Our new NSF ATE grant project is involved in improving work-based learning (WBL) in biotech, and our team from City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), are collaborating with InnovATEBIO to compile information about the kinds of WBL opportunities at biotechnology training programs around the nation.
In October 2021, we reached out to over 109 community college biotechnology programs via email and through the Virtual 2021 ATE PI Conference with this survey to gather data about work-based learning (ex. Internships, apprenticeships, etc).
We were thrilled to receive 40 responses from 39 programs across the nation, 34 of which currently had some portion of their students engaged in WBL experiences ranging from 40-400 hrs (average 176.5 hrs). This data suggests that at least one third of community college biotechnology programs are providing Work-Based Learning experiences for their students!
Of those 34 programs offering WBL experiences (predominantly internships):
29 (85%) provide college credit for their internships.
22 (65%) provide instructional materials to support students in their internships
11 (32%) bring student interns together as a cohort (e.g., they may go through an orientation together, meet to share their experiences, provide support to one another, etc.)
23 (68%) were interested in engaging in discussions around WBL and sharing resources.
With so many programs engaging students in WBL, we feel it’s important to develop and disseminate further resources and tools that are directly relevant to community college biotechnology students undergoing internships, apprenticeships and the like. To support this effort,we have developed the Collaborative to Strengthen Work-Based Learning, to share best practices and strategies for overcoming challenges.
The CCSF Biotechnology Program has been actively engaged in running internship programs for our students for over fifteen years. Over the past six years we’ve been collaborating with UCSF, the second largest employer in San Francisco and employer for many of our interns, to improve WBL experiences for community college students and foster more inclusive lab environments. We are excited to share what we’ve developed and obtain input from programs nationwide.
In our first collaborative ATE grant (2018-2021, DUE #1801186, 1800998) we:
Developed a novel CCSF-UCSF Inclusive Mentoring Fellows program, in which UCSF internship mentors are coached as they apply inclusive workplace practices while mentoring CCSF interns.
In our current ATE project (2021-2024, DUE #2055735, 2055309) we will:
Translate our trainings for biotechnology community college students and mentor-managers from an academic to an industry setting
Disseminate those trainings nationwide to community college students and biotech/bioscience mentor-managers through online platforms to foster the knowledge & skills needed to operationalize inclusivity and reduce barriers for community college students in the biotech workplace