QB3-Berkeley’s Summer Undergraduate Biotech Internship program is now open. For 2023 placements at Bay Area biotech companies, UC Berkeley undergraduates must apply by January 30th. Information and application form are on the internship program’s page.
During the summer of 2022, I had the opportunity to be a QB3-Berkeley Undergraduate Biotech intern at InterVenn Biosciences, located in South San Francisco, as a BioAssay Development Research Intern.
InterVenn Biosciences is a biotechnology company focused on leveraging the glycoproteome to develop liquid biopsy solutions for disease diagnostics. More specifically, I worked with the Future Frontiers team in the company, responsible for establishing innovative research groundwork for developing future technologies for InterVenn. Working on this team exposed me to a variety of ideas, projects, innovation-focused brainstorming sessions, and a collaborative environment where I got to work with individuals from different backgrounds.
Coming into this internship, I had several goals and expectations. First and foremost, I wanted to be able to translate my research experience in academia to an industry setting while gaining knowledge on how to conduct glycoproteomics research, an emerging field that has exciting potential. Additionally, I wanted to have the opportunity to network with employees from a variety of backgrounds, departments, and levels throughout the company, as well as experience start-up culture.
Over the course of this summer, I was fortunate to participate in and contribute to a variety of projects within Future Frontiers, relating to the glycoproteomic analysis of dry-blood spots or fibrination of plasma in sample processing and glycoproteomic analysis. Starting in my first week, there was a lot of information to digest and learn, including thinking about operating a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometer (LC-MS), which was a little intimidating. However, the team set aside time to explain any concepts I was confused about and walked me through their protocols.
Being involved in a small team encouraged me to be more confident in asking questions and clarifications during team meetings, no matter if the concept was something they had already covered. Additionally, I had the opportunity to learn about the patenting process. I wasn’t aware of how beneficial intellectual property generation is to a start-up as well as to growing an industry, especially coming from an academic perspective. At a start-up, research moves fast!
An unexpected meeting I saw on my calendar was an intern meet and greet with our CEO along with an Executive Speaker Series with the other C-level executives and leadership members. Coming into the first couple of weeks, I would have never imagined having the opportunity to meet with the company’s leadership and being able to ask them questions. A huge takeaway from that experience that I gained was that there are so many different career paths within the industry of research and there is no one set linear path to become successful. Absorbing this information was extremely valuable and helpful to me as someone who is in the early stages of my career development.
One aspect of my internship that I appreciated was the employee-first culture at InterVenn, which I experienced firsthand everyday I walked in the door. I could genuinely tell that the company supports its employees and cares for them, giving them the space and opportunity to be productive and for the company as a whole to operate at “InterVenn speed”.
I thoroughly enjoyed having team lunches where we could take some time off of work to get to know each other more and explore South San Francisco’s many cuisines. Every Wednesday, the science teams would come together for “boba time”, where we would discuss pertinent issues involving the lab or what each team is working on, while enjoying a refreshing drink to energize us in the middle of the day. These informal gatherings allowed me to gain some insight on what other teams are working on, gave me an idea how InterVenn resolves conflicts within its science teams, and introduced me to the many other science employees at the company.
As a part of QB3 Berkeley’s program requirements for this internship, I presented my summer’s work at a poster symposium along with interns from other companies. My manager and another mentor both set aside time in their busy schedules to provide me guidance and feedback in the creation of my poster and what I would present to the science teams as my exit presentation. This experience was extremely valuable in developing not only my research skills, but my scientific communication skills as well, which is an equally important part of contributing to this industry.
I am very thankful to have had this opportunity, experience, and mentorship from my manager and other team members. I look forward to seeing what InterVenn continues to explore and accomplish! As a senior undergraduate Bioengineering major, I will utilize the skills and knowledge I learned at InterVenn as I complete my studies at Berkeley and navigate my future career.