Spring 2016 | Biology | Marquette University

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By: Leah Conrath, Biological Sciences B.S. 2016

Launch Internship ProgramBiology is the study of life, which makes it a vast, complicated field of study. The combination of scientific thinking and a basic understanding of organic interactions make a biology degree applicable in a number of fields. However, this very applicability often leaves students feeling lost, until they believe the only thing they can do is follow one of the established post biology tracks: medicine, lab research, or graduate school. This is not to say that these are not strong fields with good jobs at the end of them, just that they are not for everyone. To help people see this and guide the students who have not already decided what they want to do, the department began the Launch Internship Program.

 

In its inaugural year the program has already placed eight students in biology related businesses around Milwaukee, including the Milwaukee Public Museum, The Blood Center of Wisconsin, and Strong Microbial. Sarah Reichert, an undergraduate student participating in the program, will be applying to vet schools after she graduates. Sarah and a few other pre-vet students found themselves in a bit of a conundrum; Marquette has a strong science program which makes alumni excellent candidates, but since there is no official pre-vet track, choosing the best coursework and gaining internships can be difficult. Thanks to Launch, Sarah is able to get credit for her internship while getting the experience she needs to be a competitive applicant for vet school.

Launch Internship Fair
Students had the opportunity to meet potential employers at the Launch Internship Fair in October 2015

In addition to gaining desired experience these internships also offer an opportunity to gain experiences they didn’t realize they wanted. Katelin Krenzke is another participant in the program currently doing an internship in the Botany Department of the Milwaukee Public Museum. She applied to the Launch program thinking of getting some experience in a corporate setting but after working at her placement she realized “I was actually looking for experience outside of molecular biology.” Katelin has found the experience to not only broaden her horizons professionally but also allowed her to see more of Milwaukee. She hopes that other biology students will participate and encourages them to ask about it their first advising meeting freshman year.

 

Dr. Martin St. Maurice, Associate Professor at Marquette and one of the founders of Launch also hopes students come into the department planning on doing an internship. “We would like the program to almost be an expectation, that older students encourage younger students,” he said when discussing the future of the program. He explained that part of the program’s success comes from excellent timing, as the College of Arts and Sciences has just been approved for The Great Lakes Grant. This grant allows qualifying students to be compensated for their time even if they do an unpaid internship. This monetary support combined with the backing of faculty has the program off to a great start but it still has a lot of room for improvement. Gaining new business partnerships, increasing student participation, and eventually creating full time co-op positions are just a few ways Dr. St. Maurice feels the program can be improved.

 

Sarah Reichert Oceans of Fun Internship
Sarah Reichert at her internship at Oceans of Fun in Milwaukee

A full time co-op would not leave a lot of time for reflecting on new experiences and even part-time internships don’t leave a lot of relaxation time combined with school, so very few assignments are required for students while they are working: a midterm report and a final paper. The department requires completion of an associated course in the fall semester to apply 3 credits for the internship. Professor Dr. Dale Noel will be teaching the course. He intends for the course to be both a recap of the internship and a way for students to share the knowledge and skills that they have gained with each other. “I don’t want to make it too much, since you’ve already done the work at the internship,” he said. At the same time he wants to make sure students leave the course with certain professional skills that are not always emphasized in science classes, such as workplace writing and speaking about a project to audiences of varying education. These skills combined with the experiences of each participating student will make the course unique each semester as it molds to the needs of the students.

 

If this like a good opportunity for you or a Marquette student you know, make sure to go to the Launch Website, and apply this fall.


 

 


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Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
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P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
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