Kicking Off the MLSC Summer Internship Challenge

from left: Valentina Rosa, Ryan Connors
from left: Valentina Rosa, Ryan Connors

Ryan Connors, TRA360’s Summer Intern and I attended the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) Internship Challenge Summer 2011 Launch Event. Thanks to the MLSC for inviting us.

The event was hosted at the WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center. The WPI Center is AMAZING! It’s a new, big, and exciting place to be and to work. The WPI Center is aptly located in Gateway Park—it’s a gateway to Boston/Cambridge, Worcester, and Western Massachusetts.

Susan Windham-Bannister and the entire MLSC staff know how to do things right. The venue was beautiful, the speakers were varied and engaging, and the three hours flew past.


Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray with MLSC interns (left to right: Sadie McCarthy, Kelsey Scheidemantel, & Max Notis)
Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray with MLSC interns (left to right: Sadie McCarthy, Kelsey Scheidemantel, & Max Notis)

Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray talked about growing up in Worcester and becoming the mayor before moving to the State House. His announcement that the Internship Challenge Program would be expanded to a year-round program was received by huge rounds of applause from both interns and sponsors.

Kevin O’Sullivan, President and CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, got everyone jazzed up by his palpable passion and contagious energy. When speaking directly to the interns he said: “You’ve got ‘it’ (you know what I mean!)” and “I have one request: Stay here! Stay here in Massachusetts after you graduate.”

The armchair conversation with Susan, Joshua Boger, former CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Chief Scientific Officer for Ctyonome/ST. There were so many jewels of insights offered by these three giants in our industry. Among the best were Lydia’s comments on the importance of curiosity and persistence (she spoke with 244 (!) prospects to get funding for Ctyonome and Josh’s phrase that people in our industry need to possess a “borderline psychotic confidence.”

Norm Garceau, Chief Scientific Officer of Blue Sky Biotech, spoke about leaving the comfort of Pfizer to join a start-up and Caitlin Pond, a 2010 Intern and Research Associate at Blue Sky Biotech, warmed our hearts with her honesty, commitment, and incredible energy.

Steve Kelly, CEO of Myomo, got the crowd laughing with his slideshow and great sense of humor. He also demonstrated how his company is making robotic products that are fundamentally changing people’s lives.

The Internship Challenge has grown by leaps and bounds since it was started in 2009. Take a look at these exceptional numbers:

Intern/Sponsor Data Summer 2009 Summer 2010 Summer 2011
Student applications 508 899 1,323
Interns placed 104 170 216
Registered sponsors 77 140 178
Actual sponsors 59 94 123

We met a lot of people and had a great time! We’re thrilled to participate as an MLSC Internship Sponsor again this year. Ryan’s doing a superb job for TRA360. He’s just finishing his fourth week and he’s already a fixture.

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