Internship Challenge

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Program Overview

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) Internship Challenge is a workforce development program focused on enhancing the talent pipeline for Massachusetts companies engaged in life sciences. Each year, the program creates over 550 new internship opportunities for college students and recent graduates by enabling small companies to hire paid interns. The program connects employers with prospective interns through an online platform and reimburses eligible companies for intern stipends. The Internship Challenge expands the pool of prospective employees who have practical experience, increases opportunities for mentoring, and enables more students from across the Commonwealth to explore careers in the life sciences industry.

MLSC has supported more than 4,300 internships at nearly 800 companies throughout Massachusetts, since the Internship Challenge first launched in 2009. 

Internships can be part or full time and can take place throughout the Program Year, which begins on May 1st and runs through April 30th of the following year.

Eligible students and recent graduates looking for an internship are welcome to submit an online application, which includes their resume and a cover letter, to be posted in the MLSC’s application database (they do not apply to a particular company or for a specific position). Applications are accepted year-round but will expire at the end of each Program Year or after six months if not renewed. Company representatives review applications on a rolling basis and contact applicants directly if they are interested in hiring them for an internship.

Companies interested in hosting interns can register with the MLSC at any time throughout the year to gain access to our database of prospective interns. Once approved, company representatives can then review applications, interview candidates, and select interns with the qualifications that are most suited to their needs. Companies can hire up to two interns per Program Year, but have the option to hire up to two additional interns that are enrolled in a 2-year/community college or certificate program. Furthermore, companies are eligible to hire an additional intern provided that they replace one that was hired by the company as a full time employee during the same Program Year. The MLSC will reimburse eligible companies for pay rates of up to $17 per hour for a total reimbursement of no more than $8,160 per intern at the conclusion of the internship.

Other MLSC-Sponsored Internship Programs

High School Apprenticeship Challenge: Companies participating in the Internship Challenge will automatically gain access to a separate database of high school student applications. Companies are permitted to hire up to two subsidized high school interns per year, which do not count towards the limit on college interns hired through the Internship Challenge.

Advanced Analytics/Data Science Internship Program: Companies participating in the Internship Challenge will automatically gain access to a separate database of candidates at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels seeking data science related internship opportunities with life sciences companies and research institutions. Companies are permitted to hire one subsidized data science intern per year, which WILL count towards the limit on interns hired through the Internship Challenge.


JoAn Blake and Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff, CSO at CytomoneST, share their experiences as participants of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s Internship Challenge. JoAn’s internship was partially funded by the SCILS Initiative (Skilled Careers in Life Sciences), a $5 million, 4-year training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The interview was filmed and produced by the Boston Private Industry Council, one of the SCILS Initiative administrators.

Hear from other program participants by visiting our testimonials page.

Stories and perspectives on enhancing career exploration and expanding the talent pipeline:

A Sweet Spot for Growth and Development: Internship Challenge part of FloDesign Sonics success story

High Throughput: EpigenDx in Hopkinton providing internship opportunities for 10 years

Defining a Student’s Career Trajectory

Sustainable Opportunities: KnipBio

Internship Challenge providing professional experience opportunities: Quinsigamond Community College

The Internship Challenge Business Model: Enable Life Sciences


Program Eligibility


  1. Must be residents of Massachusetts (able to provide proof of residency) OR attend(ed) a college or university located in Massachusetts (able to provide enrollment verification); and
  1. Must meet one of the following:
    • 2-year/Community College/Certificate students must be enrolled in an Associate’s Degree or Certificate program or have completed one within the past calendar year. Continuing Education students are also eligible.
    • 4-year college or university students must have or will complete(d) at least their freshman year the semester before the internship starts, or have graduated within the past calendar year.
    • Graduate students must be enrolled in a Master’s Degree program or received their Master’s Degree within the past calendar year. Ph.D. and M.D. students are not eligible.

Host Companies:

  1. Must be located in Massachusetts and internships must take place in Massachusetts. Companies are required to be registered to do business in Massachusetts and must submit Certificates of Good Standing from both the MA Department of Revenue and the MA Secretary of the Commonwealth (click on links to request). Companies will also need to provide MLSC with a signed copy of their Form W-9 and an authorization for electronic fund transfers (if not previously provided).
  2. Must be small businesses (100 or fewer employees in MA and no more than 250 employees worldwide). Larger companies, subsidiaries of larger companies, research institutions, and incubators are welcome to participate in the program, however their internships would not be subsidized.
  3. Must be life sciences companies or companies that provide services to the life sciences industry. “Life sciences” is defined as: “advanced and applied sciences that expand the understanding of human physiology and have the potential to lead to medical advances or therapeutic applications,” – Massachusetts General Laws (MGL), chapter 23I, section 2.
  4. Must offer interns a hands-on learning experience and at least one mentor that directly oversees the internship at an official place of business (no residences or remote workplaces).

Please Note:

  • Interns are to be hired and paid directly by the host company. Any employed intern shall be treated as a W-2 employee of the company (not a contractor or subcontractor) for compensation purposes. However, interns must be hired for a temporary internship experience and not hired as permanent employees (interns can be hired full time upon completion of the MLSC-sponsored internship).
  • 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 supporting documentation may be required for reimbursement. Companies are required to pay their interns on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and include in each payment all applicable employment taxes in accordance with state and federal law.
  • Effective as of the 2020-21 Program Year (i.e. internships beginning on or after May 1, 2020), MLSC will only reimburse host companies for wages paid for hours worked and will no longer offer companies the option to request reimbursement for payroll taxes and payroll fees. Please be advised that although payroll taxes and fees will no longer be reimbursable by MLSC, companies hiring interns though this program are still required to pay mandatory federal and state employer-paid taxes, such as Social Security and Medicare, and if applicable, an increase in monthly payroll service fees for additional employees.
  • Multiple companies that are “Related Parties” can participate, however will be limited to the maximum funding available for ONE company. Related Party Companies are defined as companies having common ownership and/or management personnel (including but not limited to the CEO, CFO, or COO).  Related Party Companies are also considered to be related if at any time one company has the ability to Control (as defined below) the other company or exercise influence over the other company in making financial and/or operating decisions. Control is defined as:
    • ownership, directly or indirectly, of more than one half of the voting power of a company, or
    • control of the composition of the board of directors, or other governing body of a company, or
    • a substantial interest in voting power and the power to direct the financial and/or operating policies of the company.
  • Companies cannot hire an intern who is the spouse, child, grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew, cousin or spouse of a child, grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew, or cousin of ANY employee of the company.
  • Interns cannot participate in more than one subsidized internship in the same Program Year.
  • Interns cannot participate in more than two subsidized internships (over two Program Years) with the same company.
  • Internships cannot also be subsidized by another state entity (such as MassTech or MassCEC). Companies participating in more than one state-funded internship program must hire different interns under each program.


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