Internship Experiences Contribute to Confident Career Decision Making for Doctoral Students in the Life Sciences

Alexandra M. Schnoes, Anne Caliendo, Janice Morand, Teresa Dillinger, Michelle Naffziger-Hirsch, Bruce Moses, Jeffery C. Gibeling, Keith R. Yamamoto, Bill Lindstaedt, Richard McGee, Theresa C. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The Graduate Student Internships for Career Exploration (GSICE) program at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), offers structured training and hands-on experience through internships for a broad range of PhD-level careers. The GSICE program model was successfully replicated at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). Here, we present outcome data for a total of 217 PhD students participating in the UCSF and UC Davis programs from 2010 to 2015 and 2014 to 2015, respectively. The internship programs at the two sites demonstrated comparable participation, internship completion rates, and overall outcomes. Using survey, focus group, and individual interview data, we find that the programs provide students with career development skills, while increasing students' confidence in career exploration and decision making. Internships, in particular, were perceived by students to increase their ability to discern a career area of choice and to increase confidence in pursuing that career. We present data showing that program participation does not change median time to degree and may help some trainees avoid "default postdocs." Our findings suggest important strategies for institutions developing internship programs for PhD students, namely: including a structured training component, allowing postgraduation internships, and providing a central organization point for internship programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCBE life sciences education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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