Internships

An internship is a temporary job with a defined time period and goal that helps students build their resumes and explore career opportunuties. Interns apply knowledge obtained in their degree program to “real world” problems, and often work in teams, which helps to develop soft skills.

Evaluate your goals and your personal interests

Working as an intern allows students to:

  • Explore the diverse career paths available to science majors
  • Experience the excitement of scientific discovery in a corporate setting
  • Use state-of-the-art equipment
  • Discover how scientific discoveries become marketed products
  • Build their portfolio of job skills and enhance their resume
  • Expand their professional network

A great place to start is by thinking about the tasks that you enjoy most.  If you love working with your hands, then a job performing experiments in a laboratory might appeal to you.  If you prefer analyzing data and writing, then an internship helping to write scientific manuscripts or grants might be a better fit.  If you are interested in science policy, you might consider working for a government agency. 

There are many options from which to choose. Identifying your interests can be a difficult process.  At this point, it is also helpful to put together a list of technical skills that you have developed while completing classes in your major.

ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services unit has a number of tools that can help.

Evaluate your existing responsibilities and time commitments

Before beginning to look at internship opportunities, it is important to consider your current responsibilities and commitments. 

How many hours a week can you work?  Do you want to work when you are not enrolled in classes or during the school year? Do you prefer to work at night or on weekends or during the day? Is location an issue?

There are part-time, full-time, full-year, and summer only internships available.  Some opportunities are in Arizona, others are throughout the United States. 

Decide what type of internship meets your needs

Unpaid Internships: Start-up companies, government institutions and healthcare facilities occasionally offer students with little or no work experience the opportunity to work as an unpaid intern. 

This can be a valuable way to expand your working skills and see how a scientific discovery can move from the lab bench to the market, how science policy is made or how healthcare is provided to underserved groups.  It is very important to consider your financial situation as well as your long-term career goals when considering this type of internship. 

 

Paid Internships: Companies in a variety of industries offer paid internships to students.  It is a great way for students to earn valuable work experience and provides the company with the opportunity to screen potential future employees. 

The duration and timing of the internships vary.  Some government agencies also offer paid internships during the summer months as a way of stimulating interest in STEM careers.

 

Gain course credit: It is also possible to gain college credit (e.g, CHM 484/BCH 484) for some internships.  An internship completed for university credit is intended to be a unique learning experience offered at an off-campus facility.  In general, course credit is not offered to students already employed by the company.  Students and the employer must define the scope of the internship project. 

SMS academic advisors and faculty will review the proposed project to ensure that is suitable for course credit.  A minimum of 45 hours of work are required for each unit of college credit.  This is consistent with the one hour of contact time and two hours of homework typically required in a 400 level class. 

For more information on earning CHM 484 or BCH 484 credit for an internship, contact SMSadvising@asu.edu

Prepare your resume and cover letter

Students are encouraged to explore intership opportunities, the search for a rewarding career begins as early as the end of your freshman year!

After identifying a list of internships that meet your current interests, it is time to apply for the position.  To do that you will need a focused resume and cover letter showing the employer that you are a good candidate.  You will also need to provide reference letters.

A resume is a summary of your qualifications and includes sections on your education, your technical and soft skills as well as your experience.  Writing a resume and cover letter for the first time can be difficult.

As a student in the School of Molecular Sciences, you are developing technical skills with each class you take as part of your major. A quick review of the syllabus from your laboratory classes can help you pull together a list of these skills. For eample, as you move into upper division courses, you may have completed a class project.

Scroll down to see an example of a resume for an SMS student who is in the early years of their program of study.

We encourage our students to visit the “Additional Career Resources” and the Resumes and Application Materials pages on the Career and Professional Development Services website.  You will find additional sample resumes as well as tips on how to write an excellent cover letter and prepare for your interview! 

If you prepare your application materials and for your interview as if you were preparing for an exam, you will have a much better chance of landing the job.

Example Resume

 

Name

Home address
Telephone number/email address

EDUCATION

Bachelors of Science in Chemistry  expected completion May 20XX
Arizona State University Tempe, AZ

TECHNICAL SKILLS

  • Basic understanding of the use of personal protective equipment, procedures for safe handling of laboratory chemicals and hazardous waste
  • Novice level familiarity with basic laboratory equipment including volumetric glassware, electronic balances, hot plates, Bunsen burners, pH meters, electronic measuring devices (e.g. monometers, spectrophotometers, voltmeters, thermometers)
  • Experienced with quantitative methods including titrations, gravimetric and spectrophotometric analysis
  • Ability to analyze data from laboratory experiments and prepare graphs and tables and written lab reports using Microsoft Excel and Word software programs

CLASS PROJECTS

Quantitation of Quinine in Tonic Water (CHM XXX )January 20XX – May 20XX

  • Conducted a literature search to identify a suitable analytical method for this project
  • Designed and executed the experiment using the method of standard additions and fluorescence spectrophotometry
  • Wrote a research report summarizing the data obtained from the study
  • Summarized the results of the study in an oral presentation using PowerPoint slides

WORK EXPERIENCE

Cashier, Walmart Tempe, AZ, August 20XX – Present
Tempe, AZ

  • Provided accurate and fast customer service to patrons finalizing their purchases
  • Worked with other team members to restock store shelves and maintain store cleanliness during non-peak hours

 

SOFT SKILLS

Excellent oral and written communication skills, intermediate fluency in French

Ask faculty for a letter of recommendation

When applying for an internship, employers will want to contact individuals who can discuss the quality of your technical and soft skills.  For undergraduates, these references are typically School of Molecular Science faculty members.  Students are often nervous about asking faculty for letters of recommendation but if you have done well in their class, many faculty are happy to help.

  • Select a faculty member in whose class you did well, completed a class project or for whom you did research
  • Call or send an email to the faculty member indicating that you would like to make an appointment to discuss a reference letter.
  • Be prepared to explain why you think the faculty member is in a position to assess your preparation for the internship you are seeking.
  • Bring copies of your current resume AND the description of the internship (e.g. job posting) to your meeting. Providing a copy of your draft cover letter describing your interest in the opportunity is also helpful.
  • Allow plenty of time for the faculty member to write the letter of support (if a letter is needed) or to be prepared to answer questions by phone
  • Let them know how the letter of reference should be sent or if they should expect a phone call from the potential employer.
  • Follow up your meeting, with an email thanking the faculty member for their time and consideration of your request for a reference.

Internships in Industry, Non-profit Organization, and State Agencies

Handshake Arizona State University has purchased access to Handshake, an online source of career information.  The SMS Internships page, designed especially for our students, provides a pre-selected list of organizations looking for interns with chemistry or biochemistry backgrounds.  Click the link, log into Handshake with your azurite ID to begin searching for a great internship.  If you create a profile for yourself on Handshake, employers will be able to contact you directly when your skills match their needs.  You can also search public databases such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and CareerBuilder.

 

Pre-Health Internship Program: The Pre-Health Internship Program (PHIP) is a university-wide program designed to develop high quality activities that give ASU students the practical experience needed to be competitive in post-graduate degree programs and careers. Internships provide additional hands-on experience in a professional setting and offer students an opportunity to explore potential career options. PHIP internship opportunities are unpaid and are utilized for educational purposes only.

 

American Chemical Society: The American Chemical Society (ACS) is the professional society for chemists and biochemists.  ACS has resources for students who wish to explore careers in their major discipline or search for undergraduate internships, summer jobs or co-op programs:

Institute for Broadening Participation Resources for Students: The Institute for Broadening Participation works to increase diversity in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professional workforce.  This organization provides resources to faculty and students with the intent to keep students on the path to successful STEM careers.  Resources include:

 

Interships Offered by Arizona Employers

Helios Scholars at TGEN: TGen sponsors a paid, 8-week internship program in biomedical research.  TGen scientists mentor participants working full-time on research projects covering a variety of areas in translational bioscience including “laboratory research, computational biology and bioinformatics, mathematics and statistics, and research administration”.  Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States and be a full time enrolled student at an Arizona college or university.

Center for Innovation at the Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation offers paid internships for undergraduate juniors and seniors interested in health care.  The program’s mission is to “transform the experience and delivery of health and health care with a human-centered focus”.  Summer and semester programs are available.  Applicants who are self-directed, adaptable, enthusiastic and interested in innovating health care are encouraged to apply.

Barrow Neurological Institute: This summer program is a paid 10 to 12-week experience in which undergraduate student perform laboratory research under the guidance of a Barrow Neurological Institute scientist.  A variety of research areas are available including: Alzheimer’s Disease, brain imaging, brain tumor detection and neuro-oncology, neurotrauma, and stroke among others.  Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States and be a full-time enrolled student during the internship period.

 

Government Sponsored Summer Internships

 NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program: REUs are held at various academic institutions throughout the United States. Students work with university faculty members on projects in a variety of topics related to chemistry and biochemistry.  Applicants must be Lawful Permanent Residents or citizens of the United States.

FBI Honors Internship Program: The Federal Bureau of Investigation offers a 10-week paid internship for college undergraduate and graduate students.  The gives students the opportunity to explore career options within the FBI.  Students work along-side FBI employees in offices at a variety of US locations.  Applicants must be US citizens attending a college or university full time.  Students with STEM educational backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

NIH Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research: The National Institutes of Health sponsors programs that allow students to work on cutting-edge research projects and gain exposure to emerging techniques in biochemistry, molecular biology and chemical analysis. Applicants must be Lawful Permanent Residents or citizens of the United States.

DOE Science Undergraduate Internships (SULI): The US Department of Energy also funds  at a number of national laboratories across the United States to encourage undergraduates and recent graduates to pursue STEM careers by providing research experiences at Department of Energy laboratories.  The focus of the research varies depending on the location of the laboratory.  Summer internships are 10 weeks long. Fall and spring internships are also available. Applicants must be Lawful Permanent Residents or citizens of the United States.

NASA Internships: These internshipsp rovide the opportunity for students to work with career scientists in mentor-directed, degree-related projects.  Summer internships are 10 weeks long.  Fall and spring internships are also available.  Applicants must be US citizens.

A complete listing of research opportunities can be found on the Gateway to Federal Opportunities for Undergraduate Students.