A Culture of Mentorship: Our Internship Program
Fostering academic relationships and networking opportunities
Imagine interning at the intersection of lab science, pharmaceutical science, social science, business and international development―where work is geared toward improving the global good.
For our interns, the RTI experience is more than just an introduction to the working world. Our interns perform substantive work integral to our goal of delivering the promise of science. Experiential learning opportunities span many disciplines and practice areas, all aimed at making a positive social impact.
Interns make real contributions through their involvement with projects that influence both national and international research efforts. They may co-author articles (sometimes earning listings as first author), participate in and present at research conferences, and take part in other professional development activities.
Offering a Range of Subjects and Experiences
Each intern’s experience, nationally or internationally, is unique. Here are a few examples:
- Interns have assisted with the Campus Sexual Assault study, a contribution to the national conversation about universities and sexual victimization that captured the attention of the White House.
- Some of our interns learned mechanical and practical skills of operating and maintaining pilot-scale runs of a bio fuels plant.
- One intern investigated e-cigarette jokes on Twitter as a confounding or supportive factor in public health.
- One intern contributed to a program in Uganda aimed at helping improve government accountability.
- Another intern participated in the new Pharmacoepidemiology Internship, resulting from a collaboration between RTI Health Solutions and the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings Global School of Public Health.
Over the past several years, projects like enhancing the LungMap website, the development of a retrievable biomedical device for islet transplantation, the MicroPem project, and a study of the cytotoxicity of e-cigarette liquids and aerosols on human bronchial epithelial cells all benefited from the substantial contributions of several of our interns. In turn, interns gained valuable research experience in a professional setting.
In addition to participating in high-level projects, our summer interns are invited to professional development workshops designed to supplement their research. They also network with leaders at the institute, many of whom are at the top of their respective fields, as well as those in other fields with whom there may be a cross disciplinary opportunity. For interns located in our many U.S. and global offices, participation in these events is supported and encouraged.
Interns are also encouraged to share their accomplishments at the annual Internship Showcase, a culminating event that underscores the importance of communicating about the sciences in the public sphere.
Standing on the Shoulders of Research Giants and Accomplished Scholars
Our interns glean tremendous knowledge from our seasoned scholars, researchers, scientists, and engineers who pride themselves in training the next generation of great minds. Many interns build lasting relationships that often result in further involvement with the institute, even years after their initial experience or internship.
We encourage interns to seek mentors in their fields, who illustrate what a career in that focus area may entail, as well as what challenges they may face, and how to respond.
“[My mentor] continuously reminded me as a woman interested in data science I must be ferocious and attack problems with gusto,” said one intern, “she routinely reminds me to stay focused and get up, even when I fall.”
Another intern talked about his mentor investing in him and urging him to grow as a researcher: “It is not surprising of him to ask me a challenging question relating to my work to make me think about what I am doing in a broader sense,” he said.
One mentor cited the invaluable contribution of interns as a reason he continues to host them in his program. A group from a recent internship has stayed in touch and one has come on as an employee. Like so many mentors, this mentor mentioned the value of a pair of eyes from outside of the institute and the new perspectives interns bring.
If you are seeking to make a difference and improve the human condition by turning knowledge into practice, apply for an RTI Internship today.