Aug. 14, 2023 — Though their studies at the UF College of Medicine are focused on different concentrations, doctoral candidates Laura Falceto Font and Victoria Leroy have similar ideas about where they hope their Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences training will take them.
To help achieve their goal of applying their research backgrounds in the world of business and entrepreneurship, they are assembling a program that enables trainees to gain practical industry experience that cannot be found in a classroom. Building off an idea established by a program alumna, Falceto Font and Leroy have teamed up to launch a biomedical sciences career development internship program that gives their peers a chance to explore different fields and build connections.
Mai Tanaka-Wakefield, Ph.D. ’21, M.P.H., conceptualized an internship program that would give College of Medicine graduate students the opportunity to discover alternative career paths, but she graduated before such a program could take off. After she returned to the college this spring as part of a career development discussion with students, Falceto Font and Leroy became inspired to restart the program, working with faculty adviser Stephanie Karst, Ph.D., a professor in the department of molecular genetics and microbiology.
“For every student who wants to do an internship, we want them to be able to do so and feel supported,” Leroy said. “We hope to establish an accessible, centralized location where students can peruse internship possibilities they may not have known about otherwise.”
Leroy and Falceto Font have connected with UF Innovate, the university’s tech startup incubator, to begin garnering business interest in the program. Their vision is to offer one-month internships to students paid for with sponsorships from participating companies and organizations, which would cover the costs of participation and tuition for the duration of the internship.
The internship program seeks to enrich students’ understanding of how science can be applied in industry to develop new technologies, find innovative solutions and collaborate across teams. Aside from building students’ resumes and giving them access to a network of potential peers, the program aims to establish a platform where students can explore their career options.
“Students are welcome to find a company on their own that mimics what they want to do and their field of interest or search our centralized list of local internships,” Falceto Font said. “It’s going to be specific to each student, so the internship program is going to be very flexible. Whatever they want to explore, we’re going to support them.”
Information about how students, businesses and organizations can become involved in the internship program will eventually be available to view on the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences website, but in the meantime, anyone can email Falceto Font and Leroy at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org if they are interested in learning more about the program or becoming involved in the student committee launching it.