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Cornell University


Want to Avoid a Default Postdoc? Try an Internship (links to a report by UCSF and UC Davis)
Through Internships, PhD Students Expand their Skills and Explore their Options

Internships & Experiential Learning: Myths vs Reality (prepared by Michigan State University)
Not Just for Undergrads (by Vanderbilt University)
Internships: Mind Wide Open (by Paul Smaglik)

Benefits for a win-win-win partnership...

Benefits to the participant, their advisor and outside organization are multiple. Key benefits to the participant involve professional development, possibly in the areas of corporate communications, project management, commercial application of knowledge, technology and research methods; and the shoulder-to-shoulder expert guidance by mentors in the outside organization. Benefits to the outside organization include tackling back-burner or early validation projects, connection with experts and facilities at Cornell University, a chance to test-drive future employees, and a fresh perspective to advance a venture. Benefits to the advisor can include industry input on the development and commercial aspects of the research, connection to experts within the industry, closer alignment with the market need or user constraints, and research insight and inspiration from a different perspective. Contact us if you are interested in creating one of these BESTernships.

What is a BESTernship?: Think beyond a typical undergraduate internship experience, or externship which is more job shadowing. These BESTernship offerings are ideally industry-initiated, project-based, experiential, hands-on opportunities mentored by experts in the field where you would like to be employed. BESTernships can be 5 hours a week flexibly during the semester or over a break, a more standard 10-12 weeks full-time over the summer, or during the semester, in which case you might consider discussing a period in absentia with your advisor (see the forms here filed by June 15 for the fall and Nov. 1 for the spring semesters); or they can be a pre-negotiated time off-campus of a week or two with continued remote involvement.

...and preparation for ultimate employment

What qualities do employers look for when deciding whether to hire you?  What follows are highlights from our conversation with Kent Goklen from GlaxoSmithKline: It is a given that you excel scientifically and technically, that you can do the job and have published in your field. Experience that is easily gained can be acquired during the first months on the job. Do you have experience that will help solve future problems? Employers are concerned whether you will get along with the existing group, with your future co-workers. Are you used to teamwork-relying on others to get a project done, and in turn being reliable and able to keep commitments to co-workers-or are you used to setting your own timeline and working alone? Are deadlines meaningful to you? Can you communicate effectively, with clarity and respect for individuals at all levels, regardless of rank or scientific background? Knowing your audience and connecting with them is key. Do you think differently and bring a diverse perspective? Can you engage constructively when you disagree, and build consensus? Are you a listener, finding out what others know and keeping everyone on a project in the loop? Do you have flexibility and resilience? After all, more projects die than move ahead. Can you switch, if needed, to a new project after you have put your heart and soul into a different one? Do you have broad knowledge of your field and learn from many people outside your field? Are you good at planning, organization, and follow-up? Complex projects require keeping many balls in the air, and keeping several groups apprised of progress. Do you take that extra step, say, to let everyone know the project is finished? Are you a good fit for the organization? Do research on the people, culture, and customs of the organization and ask questions at your interview that show you have done your homework. Are you likely to stay at least 3-4 years? It is a big investment for the company to train new employees, and it can be disruptive if they leave sooner. And finally, do you have potential? Do you have the ability to learn quickly and think beyond your field? Do you have the talents and skills to move up within the organization? Do you think tactically? Do you make the best of what you have? Do you think strategically, beyond what you currently know and have?


We disseminate opportunities as they become available, sending them first to our BEST listservs but often posting them to the BEST LinkedIn group. Contact the BEST Program staff for detailed information.

Entrepreneurship@Cornell internships: a partnership with the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Unlike experiences at a large corporation, a small company experience will expose you to the pressures, constraints and multitasking that founders are subject to. You might tweak the design of a new product, develop a marketing plan, launch a website, conduct a prior art search, help write patent claims or all of the above! Matching takes place between December and May for the following summer. If you already have a small or startup company in mind, note it on your application. For more info and to apply, go here.  If you are in the College of Engineering, or in the Departments of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Physics, applied Physics, and Food Science the Center for Materials Research will contribute to fund your internship at a small NYS company. If you are in life sciences, the Institute of Biotechnology has subsidized internships in the past.

Search these websites for listings of internships, experiential learning opportunities, academic fellowships and scholarships funded by government and private sector organizations:

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

East Asia & Pacific Summer Research (NSF EAPSI)-$5,000 stipend plus airfare; partner institutions pay living expenses. Deadline in November by keyword and location by keyword and location--some are virtual healthcare, pharma, biotech, science

ScienceCareers -also has interesting articles and tips

If you are interested in larger industry, see also this BEST page for opportunities.

See the SPOTLIGHT section of the BEST website:

for specific examples and highlights from the trainee's perspective