High School Apprenticeship Challenge

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) High School Apprenticeship Challenge facilitates and funds paid internship opportunities for high school students throughout the Commonwealth and also offers a pre-internship lab training program for underserved students.

Since the program first launched in 2016, the MLSC has supported nearly 400 internships at 88 organizations. Interns have represented more than 100 Massachusetts high schools and nearly 200 students have participated in MLSC-sponsored lab training programs designed to better prepare them for internship opportunities.

The path to economic opportunity in life sciences is not well defined for youth who find multiple barriers to entry. The life sciences ecosystem has grown significantly in Massachusetts, which is home to world-renowned academic and research institutions, 18 of the top 20 global biopharmaceutical companies, and all of the top 20 medical device companies. We need a deliberate, coordinated, and outcomes-driven approach to ensure that our high school students are prepared for career success in this vibrant industry.

How the Program Works

The High School Apprenticeship Challenge is designed to create new internship opportunities by subsidizing intern stipends for small life sciences companies and academic researchers to enable them to hire paid interns.

  • Students submit an online application, which includes their resume and cover letter, through the MLSC’s secure online platform. There is no application deadline, but interns are generally selected between February and June since most internships begin in July.
  • Host organizations seeking interns first register online. Once approved, they are given access to a secure database to review applications, reach out directly to candidates, and select interns with the qualifications that are most suited to their needs. Interns are hired and paid by the employer. Companies can hire up to two interns and research institutions can hire no more than 20 interns per year.
  • The MLSC reimburses eligible host organizations for intern wages of $13 per hour, for a total reimbursement of up to $3,120 per intern (based on six weeks of full time work).

The after-school/summer lab training program provides rigorous pre-internship biotechnology/biomedical and professional skills development for underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged students. The program has previously been offered in Brockton, New Bedford, Worcester, and Cambridge (serving Greater Boston students). For 2020, students at Brockton High School and New Bedford High School should ask their Biology teachers about application information. This summer, MLSC will again partner with the MIT-based LEAH Knox Scholars Program to support training and internships for Boston-area public high school students. Please visit their website to learn more.

Internship Eligibility Requirements

Interns:

  • Must be Massachusetts high school students
  • Must be at least 16 years old and currently in their sophomore, junior, or senior year. Recent graduates (not enrolled in college) that received their high school diploma within the past two calendar years are also eligible.

Host Organizations:

  • Must be located in Massachusetts
  • Must provide a project-based learning experience and at least one mentor that directly oversees the internship
  • Must be companies, research intuitions, or incubators engaged in life sciences:
    • For-profit companies must have 100 or fewer employees in MA (up to 250 worldwide) to be eligible for the internship subsidy. Larger companies are also encouraged to participate, but cannot be reimbursed for intern stipends.
    • Research institutions and life sciences incubators of any size are eligible for the subsidy.

Host Organizations Please Note:

• Interns are to be hired and paid directly by the host organization. Any intern shall be treated as a W-2 employee (not a contractor or subcontractor) for compensation purposes.
• It is preferred that interns are paid through a third party payroll service (e.g. ADP, Paychex, Intuit Payroll). If using an internal payroll system (e.g. QuickBooks) in which payroll is not processed by a third party, additional support in the form of signed weekly timesheets will be required.
• Companies cannot hire an intern who is the child, grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew, or cousin of ANY employee of the company. Research institutions cannot hire an intern that is related to any employee affiliated with the lab or department at which the intern will be working.

Testimonials

“The High School Apprenticeship Challenge made it possible for us to place 18 students at high-quality, paid STEM internships at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Without MLSC, this simply would not have happened. MLSC made the partnership between my organization, UMass, and the students possible. With MLSC support, UMass increased their number of places over 500% in a year. This kind of support is what will move the needle on STEM education and preparation for high-quality STEM careers in the Commonwealth.”

Matt Rigney, Alternative Youth Programs Director, Collaborative for Educational Services

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