Biotechnology Human Resources Council Starts Industry Internship Program

Last week the Biotechnology Human Resource Council (BHRC) of Canada announced their first ever internship program for young scientists. The council, a subsection of Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), created the program to help young Canadians (under 30) make the transition from school to the work force.

"We'd like this to be a transition to full-time employment," says Paul Watson, associate for career development at the BHRC. "[The BHRC] prefers that the internships last 6 months [rather than just for a summer] so that it's more of a 'foot in the door' in order to gain entry to the industry and gain access to full-time employment," he adds.

The pilot program has a budget of $250,000 and hopes to place 25 to 50 Canadian youth into positions in biotechnology. The program works in two ways: It subsidizes one-third of the salary of interns (up to a maximum of $10,000 and 6 months), and it helps match companies with the appropriate new hires. It does the latter by creating a central, virtual place for biotech companies and young scientists to find each other.

To apply, young scientists who are under 30, unemployed or underemployed, and with the minimum of a high school diploma--but preferably with a postsecondary degree in a field related to biotechnology--just have to fill out a simple online application form. At the same time, somewhere else, a company with the proper qualifications (in Canada, and in the biotechnology sector) also applies to the program, through a different online form. Once they qualify, they can either go through their own recruiting process, or they can use the database of qualifying candidates to find someone with the appropriate experience or education.

According to the folks at the council, applications, both from young scientists and from companies, have already started piling in, even though they have yet to advertise or even put out a formal press release. "We just started getting the Web site out, so we're collecting applicants at this point. But they've already started rolling in," says Watson.

The Council hopes that, if the program is successful, they may be able to expand it: "It's a pilot program, but we're confident that these positions will quickly and easily be filled. It may be possible to go back to HDRC and get more funds," explains Mark Feldbauer, senior associate in communications at the BHRC. In this way, they hope to make it a permanent part of the services the BHRC provides.

But until that happens, you might want to jump on getting your piece of the first $250,000. Though the program has until next March to spend all their money, it might be gone a lot sooner, given its popularity so far. So if you qualify, and you want to apply, you should do it soon. More information and the application can be found online.

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