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Internship provides undergrads hands-on experience in start-up company environment

CNSI’s Magnify Internship Program provides undergraduates hands-on experience in start-up companies during academic year

By Nicole Wilkins

Karissa Shuck (4th year, biochemistry major with a minor in accounting)

This past year the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, known as CNSI, launched a program to prepare students for entry into the California workforce.

Starting this fall over a dozen undergraduate students were selected for a new internship program where they have been matched with a current start-up company in CNSI’s Magnify incubator for a hands-on experience lasting the academic school year.

The internship addresses a shortfall in hiring options for high-tech companies needing skilled employees in select scientific areas.

“The program gives students not only valuable lab and scientific experience but may also create future employment opportunities through these internships,” said Nikki Lin, director of the Magnify incubator at CNSI.

We spoke with two interns about their experience this fall and what they have gained through the experience so far:

Karissa Shuck (4th year, biochemistry major with a minor in accounting) and Priscilla Yang (3rd year bioengineering major with a minor in geography and environmental studies) are working with Partillion Bioscience. Partillion’s technology is enabling biology research at the single-cell level.

What is your role at Partillion during the internship?

Karissa: I have been working on research and development with our bioassay team as well as performing market research.

Priscilla:  My role as an intern is to work with the manufacturing team to prepare and perform quality control checks on the nanovials, which are microscopic, bowl-shaped hydrogel containers. Further in the year, I will also assist in creating marketing and packaging collateral as needed.

Priscilla Yang (3rd year bioengineering major with a minor in geography and environmental studies)

What drew you to the Magnify internship program?

Karissa: As a biochemistry major/accounting minor, I’ve always been interested in exploring the intersection between science and business. I thought the Magnify program was a cool opportunity for me to apply what I have learned in classes to a real-world setting.

Priscilla: I was drawn to the idea of working in a fast-paced startup environment with direct applications to biotechnology. Additionally, CNSI’s proximity to campus was a beneficial factor I considered when applying for an internship that would last throughout the school year.

How has the internship experience been thus far?

Karissa: Working at Partillion has been a really eye-opening experience for me so far. I’m learning that everything we do is truly based on science and I love how when I’m performing an experiment, the reasoning behind all the steps is explained with a scientific perspective. It’s the first time I have been able to see the connection to all the concepts I’ve learned in school. I also love how welcoming and friendly everyone is.

Priscilla: The people at Partillion are excellent mentors to me as an intern. They not only show me procedural steps, but also ensure that I understand the scientific background of why our protocols are performed in a certain way. The environment I’m in allows for a seamless transition between the theory I learn in class and the scientific application carried out in industry. Partillion’s intelligent and collaborative workforce keeps me curious and excited each time I interact with them!

What are you looking to gain from the internship?

Karissa:  Since this is a startup environment, I have the chance to contribute to all functions of the company and get a glimpse into the inner workings of the biotechnology industry. I’m looking forward to learning more throughout the rest of the year.

Priscilla: The internship has been a great introduction to the biotechnology industry. I get behind-the-scenes aspects of how startups are run and maintained, including the creativity, dynamism, and teamwork involved to make things function. Additionally, I’ve gotten to network with fellow interns, CNSI directors, and Magnify administrators, providing me with a sense of community and motivation to keep progressing.

This spring the Magnify Internship Program will open applications up for fall 2023.

Student applicants will be selected for the program following an interview process and matched with a current Magnify portfolio start-up company. Interns will be compensated through a stipend paid for by funding provided by the State of California dedicated to workforce training and development.

More program information can be found at: https://cnsi.ucla.edu/education-workforce/

Learn more about the Magnify companies participating in this program.