Preparing For A Research Internship in the Sciences: W&J professional development classes prepare students for next steps

Created: January 21, 2021
Last Updated: January 21, 2021

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WASHINGTON, PA (Jan. 21, 2020)—At W&J, academic excellence isn’t the only thing you’ll find in the classroom.

Many instructors take advantage of the College’s unique JayTerm—a condensed learning period between semesters designed for students to complete intensive experiential learning opportunities—to offer courses that provide professional readiness and an education in life skills.

“JayTerm is a unique opportunity to offer courses that really focus on making students professionally ready…Many of our students have landed cool internships or conducted cutting edge research or won prestigious awards but our goal is to make this true for all W&J students,” said W&J Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Curriculum and Programming Committee Jennifer Logan Bayline, Ph.D.  “JayTerm is just one part of our curriculum where we can do that, whether it’s teaching students programming or how to manage money or guiding them as they apply for prestigious awards and internships.”

In 2021, JayTerm included both recurring and new courses designed to bring these opportunities to students. In her third JayTerm teaching the course, Professor of Biology Candy DeBerry, Ph.D. prepared students to find internship opportunities and gain valuable research experience.

In this class, students learn how to write their own C.V.s or resumes, and cover letters; how to find summer internship programs and potential host labs relevant to their interests and career goals; and how to apply to each of the five different W&J programs that provide funding to support student summer internships (Linton, Magellan-Franklin, Maxwell, Mazingira, and Merck).

Students regularly cite Dr. DeBerry’s course as a major factor in helping them find and secure internships and funding. Environmental Studies, International Studies, and Spanish triple major Selena Easley ’21 connected with the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology after taking Dr. DeBerry’s course last January. She secured an internship with a lab at the Institute researching the effects of microplastics on coral reef ecosystems and larval fish, as well as funding from W&J’s Mazingira Award to spend the summer in Hawaii. Ultimately, the pandemic prevented Selena from traveling, but she’s continued contact with the Institute and is discussing internship possibilities for 2021.

“Previous to this course, it was exhausting trying to find internship opportunities for the summer. There are just so many options out there for students and many of us do not know where to start. Dr. DeBerry guided my fellow peers and I during this process by empowering us with the skills and information we needed in order to directly reach out to PIs [principal investigator] and laboratories around the world,” Selena said.

This type of preparation isn’t limited to the sciences. Read the next story in our professional readiness series on Writing for the Job Search.

About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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