Science students are often encouraged to find internships to get some experience before trying to find a job, but these days, work placements "are like gold dust," says Diana Garnham, chief executive of the UK Science Council. In a column in New Scientist's Big Wide World blog, Garnham writes that a new Science Council report shows that, while scientific employers view work placements and internships as a great way for students to learn hands-on science, there aren't enough of these opportunities for STEM students. And even if students do get internships in scientific companies or organizations, they're far more likely to be in the business and marketing areas than in the actual lab. "This is disheartening as it is often invaluable for people considering a research career to see what it is really like to be in a routine technical role working in a lab, day in day out," Garnham says. "There are hardly any internships on offer in emerging sectors such as the digital or low carbon industries. Also lacking is a chance to experience what combining science with something else, such as policy, fundraising or publishing is like." She suggests that students who are offered work placement by their universities take the offers, and says the Science Council plans to encourage STEM sector employers in the UK to think up ways to help students get the skills they need. "But for now," Garnham adds, "if you want to work in science, the clear message is that you should start preparing for the role while you are still at university."
We'll Have that Internship Rare
Jul 12, 2011