November 21, 2017

Biotech internships provide students with crucial work experience

By Maysen Marolda

Staff Writer

Select Mira Costa students have been able to enroll in a three-year-long biotechnology elective starting in 2014. The third year of the program will provide students with internship opportunities within the biotech field. The internship program is an invaluable experience for students that will help them develop critical skills; thus, the school should offer this interactive educational opportunity in other appropriate Costa electives.

As part of the internship, students will be required to complete 20 monthly hours at their approved workplace, including sites such as Torrance Memorial Hospital and the University of Southern California campus. Each site will provide specific training in different areas of the  biotech field, so science teacher Jessica Bledsoe will place students according to which aspect of biotechnology interests them the most, such as histology or in vitro technology, Bledsoe said.

At the internship site, students will have the opportunity to use the skills they have learned in their biotech classes and apply them when working with lab professionals and professors, Bledsoe said. Students will also meet with Bledsoe in bi-weekly, one-hour class discussions to discuss their progress in the internship.

According to Bledsoe, working as an intern will allow a student to finish high school with experience in the biotechnology field comparable to that of a college graduate. Therefore, the internship will put students at an advantage because once they arrive in higher-level learning, they will be more knowledgeable in the said fields compared to their counterparts. As a result, their experience will ultimately increase their chances of being hired over those who are less experienced.

According to a La Vista survey of 207 students, 99% believes that working at an internship is the most valuable learning environment in which to learn about Science Technology Engineering Mathematic-related material. Therefore, although the classroom can teach students skills needed to succeed, an internship has the ability to advance the students’ capabilities in a real-life setting, further preparing them as much as possible for the years to come.

Additionally, students will learn valuable time-management skills at their internship sites, according to  Bledsoe. For example, they will have to maintain time sheets and manage schedules. As a result, the internship opportunity will be an assured means of emphasizing time management skills for students as they learn to balance responsibilities at the workplace and at school.

Due to the positive reception of the biotech internship program, the school should offer similar programs in additional disciplines at Costa, such as the option for Model United Nations students to intern for a political figure. According to the survey, 99% of students said that if one of their classes provided the opportunity to complete an internship related to the subject field instead of attending class, they would sign up for the internship.

Through the above opportunity, motivated students would be able to further identify specific interests and perfect the skills that apply to the areas of study they want to pursue later in life.

The internship that third-year biotechnology students will have available to them will allow them to experience vital real-world conditions. More Costa electives should include similar internship opportunities so students get as much exposure to the workplace as possible.

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