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Different Types of Chemistry Internships

Wed, Oct 10, 2012

Internship Information

Choosing an internship is one of the most important decisions you can make. They type of experience you gain outside of an educational setting will begin to show you the day to day work of the career you are preparing for, when you still have the opportunity to move in a different direction. Some internships provide a wealth of learning situations, giving you that all-important on the job training that hiring managers are looking for these days. Other internships are poorly run, and could leave you simply wasting your time. If you are at school majoring in chemistry, it is incredibly important that you find an internship that allows you to get your hands dirty. So what are some of the different types of chemistry internships you can find?

Most chemistry majors go on to work in research and development. You can either find a position with a private company, working on a product or drug being created, or you can work at a government or educational institution trying to make a larger difference in the world. So how does the internship you choose set you on one path over another? Well, many of the largest, most successful drug companies offer internships. Taking one of those positions could give you a leg up if you hope to find full-time employment there after graduation. You’ll want to choose which area of the company you prefer to work within however. Many students focus on actual lab work, helping to design and test a new compound. Others prefer to remain more on the research side, either testing current drugs or trying to determine which issues deserve a more in-depth look by the employer.

You’ll also want to look at how internships are structured. Some companies will offer internships that run during the course of the whole year, which will give you the ability to schedule it during downtime with classes. However, if you aren’t graduating on the same schedule as the majority of your classmates, you could find a slot during the semester instead. Beyond the schedule, there is also the question of compensation. The majority of internships offer college credit, which you can apply towards graduation. Other internships could offer a per diem, or even full pay while you are in the program. These are incredibly difficult positions to get, but offer you the ability to show the company what sort of value you could provide. They will be looking at you very carefully, so make sure that if you take a paid internship you are willing and able to treat it like a full-time job.

Your future educational aspirations should also be considered when choosing a chemistry internship. Most chemistry majors go on to earn graduate degrees of one sort or another. And you’ll find certain internships that are targeted towards those goals. Some intern programs are looking to fill administrative positions, which makes them a good fit for MBA candidates looking to run chemistry companies or their own labs. You’ll find internships that focus on animal health, accounting, and even chemical marketing. In the end, just try to match the internship to your career aspirations.

Finally, you’ll find internships that offer the chance to work with real mentors, which can be hugely beneficial. Some of the people you will come across have developed prescription drugs, or furthered how products are tested. Others perfected some aspect of NMR services or developed incredibly useful over-the-counter products such as toothpastes or dish detergents. Make sure you research every company you are going to apply with, and talk to other students that have interned there. If you have the opportunity to learn from someone that experienced in the field, you should absolutely take it.

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