If you're interested in getting real-world experience in biology, consider an internship.
Participating in an off-campus biology internship is a great way to earn biology major credits, too. While biology advisers can assist you with recommendations, site approval and course registration, you must find and select your own internships.
Here are some steps you can take to find internship opportunities.
Consider Your Interests
Think about when you would like to do an internship, i.e., summer or fall. Also consider what you are interested in: ecology, microbiology, wildlife biology and biomedical research are a few options.
- Talk to biology advisers about your ideas
- Browse the internet on topics that interest you
- Check out the career center
- Talk to your peers
While our advisers will not contact places for you, they do know about different options in the Richmond area. They also can point you to other resources outside the area.
Just remember, to be eligible to receive BIOL 493 credit for your internship, there must be some field or lab work involved. Pre-health shadowing or patient care is not applicable for internship credit.
Start contacting potential internship sites. Again, biology advisers will not contact them for you since sites will want to work with students who take initiative. Remember to be professional and courteous when contacting possible organizations. You are representing VCU.
If you don’t have a resume yet, check out VCU Career Services for guidance. All it can take to secure an internship a some sites is a well-written email, though many other places may require formal applications.
Register for Credit
Once you have an internship locked down and a supervisor has been confirmed, then you can contact biology advising to register for BIOL 493 internship credit. In some cases, you may choose not to do the internship for credit. In other cases, companies may require it.
Remember that if you decide to register for BIOL 493, you have to pay the VCU tuition that goes with those credits. If you are a senior, you can use this as your capstone experience by also registering for BIOL 477.
To help you get started, here are some companies and organizations VCU biology majors have interned with in the past:
- Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
- Virginia Institute of Marine Science
- Health Diagnostic Laboratories
- Afton Chemical Corporation
Earning Course Credit
If you set up an internship, you can request course credit for the experience through the BIOL 493 Internship Request Form [Google Form]. Fully complete internship request forms must be received at least a week before classes begin for the semester so that you can register for credit. You must start planning well in advance of the semester that you plan to work an internship.
BIOL 493 is a semester-long course with variable hours and credits, and you can earn a maximum of three credits per semester, or a maximum total of six credits for all independent study and internship courses. One credit is awarded for each 100 hours of work you experience in a professional biology setting.
Prerequisites for BIOL 493 include BIOL 310 or 317 with minimum grades of C, and permission of the chair of the Department of Biology and of the agency, company or organization in which your internship will be held. Internships must be designed to provide you with laboratory or field experience in an off-campus professional biology setting. A final report must be submitted upon completion of the internship, and you will be graded as either pass or fail.