Perhaps the most coveted feature of the Masters in Biotechnology program at Georgetown University is the second-semester biotechnology internship. The internships provide students with real-world experience in a wide range of environments, including: GU’s Lombardi Cancer and Medical Center, NIST, NIH, FDA, USDA, biopharmaceutical companies, law firms, and investment banks.

The diversity of respective internships for the 2016 graduating class is reflected in the range of poster titles during the fall poster presentations: the capstone experience for all MS biotech students before they graduate. The poster presentations allow students to summarize their internship research, findings, and processes to an audience of program faculty, current students, and industry professionals.

Each poster is assigned 2-3 judges and the winner of the capstone experience is announced at the awards ceremony in May.

The event is unique in that regulatory/business-centric poster titles like “Comparing the Pharmaceutical Drug Application Approval Processes Around the World” can be found alongside technical science titles such as, “Glutamate-stimulated Release of Norepinephrine in Rat Hippocampus.”

Current student Rohan Ranadive noted the diversity of poster topics, stating, “[This is] an amalgamation of experiences spanning across the life sciences.”

Gradating student Naitry Shah completed her internship at EAS Consulting Group, LLC, and explained the findings of her poster entitled, “Uncovering the truth about what you eat: The Impact of the Modernized Nutrition Facts Label.” Besides learning shocking facts about modern food labeling (such as until recently, companies were allowed to omit ‘Added Sugar’ on the Nutritional Facts label), Ms. Shah appreciated the chance to enhance her marketing and business development skills throughout her internship.

Her mentor, Edward A. Steele of EAS Consulting Group, LLC, remarked, “Anything we needed done, she did with lightning speed.”

Occasionally full-time employment offers are borne out of these internship experiences. Luis Romero, who gained invaluable practice with cutting-edge 3D cell culture technology at Trevigen (Gaithersburg, MD), was recently hired by ATCC (American Type Culture Collection, Gaithersburg, MD) specifically for his knowledge and competency with 3D cell culture. Mr. Romero remarked, “it just goes to show, you never know where an internship may lead.”

Another graduating student Thomas Toshkoff, had “no idea” about the breadth and career opportunities in forensics until completing his internship at the Public Health Lab in the Department of Forensic Science, and described it as “discovering a whole other side of biology.”

This was also the first semester in which biotech students completed internships in Georgetown’s Department of Pharmacology. A mentor of one these students, Gerard Ahern, described his intern (Fan Zhou) as, “diligent, motivated, and engaged.”

MS Biotech students tend to have multiple professional opportunities after completion of their internships and graduation from the biotech program. Marc Teitelbaum recently completed his internship with FOCUS Investment Banking (Washington, D.C.), and has three upcoming interviews with consulting firms in New York City. At FOCUS, Marc was involved with $5-300 million merger and acquisition deals, contacted potential buyers directly, and gained a solid understanding of the investment trends within the life science industry.

Biotechnology Assistant Professor Ken Wasserman summarized what he perceived to be the greatest value of the internships and poster presentations: “This is the capstone of the program. You get three letters of recommendation out of it: one from our program director, one from a program professor in a class that you did well, and one from your internship mentor. The letter outside of the department is important because they are under no obligation to give you a great recommendation. They will give you a stellar letter because they love you. Put the time in and get the job done.”

Written by Elaine Shults, MS Biotechnology 2017