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All You Need to Know about the Fred Hutch Internship Program: Should You Do It?

If you are interested in biomedical science, then internships are a great pathway for you to get a first-hand idea of the rigors of the field and build a strong foundation. Internship experiences are quite intense and immersive, providing you with tangible, hands-on exposure to real-world applications. Participating in them will also set your profile apart from your peers. Moreover, these experiences cultivate critical thinking and problem-solving skills. If an internship carries prestige, it can elevate your resume, potentially unlocking doors to future college and career prospects.


If all of this sounds good, a great option for you to consider is the Fred Hutch Summer Internship Program, hosted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. We’ve deep-dived into everything you need to know about this internship in this blog!


Who can apply? When are applications open?


Eligibility:

  1. High school students preparing to enter their senior year or those entering the final term following the summer are eligible to apply for Fred Hutch's Summer Internship Program (SHIP).

  2. Eligible candidates should have a strong passion for science and a solid academic record. SHIP primarily seeks students from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities, individuals with disabilities, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

  3. The program is not open to international students.


Note: The program does not provide housing or transportation arrangements.



Fred Hutch's SHIP cohort
Fred Hutch's SHIP cohort

Application deadline and program dates:

The application portal typically opens around the beginning of February of the program year and closes around the end of March.


How do you apply?


You need to complete a two-part online application. The first part requires you to fill out your information, provide necessary details, and write a few short-response essays. The second part is a separate online form that your references must complete, and two recommendations are mandatory for your application to be reviewed.


You can view the 2023 application in PDF format for reference.


In case you don't meet the eligibility criteria, you can explore other opportunities at Fred Hutch through the Catalog of Biomedical Research Internships.



How much does it cost? Do you get a stipend?

Fred Hutch’s Summer Internship Program (SHIP) is a fully-funded program, and interns do receive a stipend (amount unspecified). Further details about the stipend will be communicated to applicants who are invited for an interview.


Additionally, interns are offered a complimentary ORCA card (a card to help you pay for public transit) to cover their transportation expenses within the greater Seattle area. This support helps ensure that financial constraints do not hinder the participation of qualified students in the program.


Is Fred Hutch's Summer Internship Program prestigious?

While there is no publicly available information about the acceptance rate of Fred Hutch's Summer Internship Program, it’s safe to assume the program is prestigious. The program website states that it is competitive.


The program is fully funded and also provides accepted students with a stipend. This means that you’ll have a lot of applicants for a cohort size of 20-30, so our guess is that the acceptance rate should be well under 10%.


The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center was among the first 15 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers to receive federal funding in 1971 and today is an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center (one among 56 in the U.S. that are supported by the NCI). Among several awards and accolades received by the cancer center and its doctors, three Nobel laureates (for physiology/medicine) have made their prize-winning discoveries in cancer treatment at Fred Hutch's Center, making it a highly regarded institution for students who wish to pursue medicine and oncology.


What is Fred Hutch's Summer Internship Program like?

Fred Hutch’s Summer Internship Program (SHIP) is an intensive eight-week opportunity for rising 12th graders, providing a unique experience for students from underrepresented backgrounds in the field of biomedical science.


The first two weeks of the program involve receiving training in laboratory safety techniques and essential skills within Fred Hutch's Training Labs.

The training covers crucial laboratory skills, such as:

  • Pipetting

  • Solution preparation

  • Sterile procedures

  • Tissue culture (non-primate)

  • Blood separation (non-primate)

  • DNA isolation

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

  • Gel electrophoresis


In the first week, you also attend lectures and discussions on topics like central dogma (the flow of DNA to RNA to protein) and hematopoiesis (the formation of blood cells).


For the remaining six weeks, you will be paired with mentors and engage in hands-on work within a Fred Hutch research group in Seattle. Your daily schedule will vary depending on the lab's ongoing projects, but typically, interns commit up to 40 hours per week, from Monday to Friday. Daily tasks usually include data entry, attending laboratory meetings, making solutions or dilutions, creating culture plates, and more.


Throughout the program, you get to participate in research seminars, attend workshops focusing on college and career development, and interact socially with fellow interns and teams. These weekly sessions cover a variety of topics, including ethics, ‘meet the scientist’ sessions, health disparities research, Big Data visualization, effective presentation skills, and biostatistics.


The internship ends with reflection presentations, where interns summarize their experiences and discuss their future academic and career goals. These presentations are open to Fred Hutch's community, teachers, and families of the interns.



The pros and cons of attending the Fred Hutch Summer Internship Program


Pros

  1. You will gain an in-depth understanding of biomedical research: This program offers a unique opportunity to understand the intricacies of cutting-edge science, preparing you for a future in the field. One of the standout benefits is the hands-on laboratory experience you will receive. You'll actively participate in experiments and research projects, honing your practical skills and gaining a competitive edge for college admissions.

  2. You will learn from award-winning researchers and doctors: The privilege of learning from experienced and award-winning researchers and doctors is a unique aspect of this program. Their mentorship will provide invaluable insights and knowledge that can shape your academic and career path. And if you build a good enough relationship with them, you might even be able to ask them for a college recommendation letter. (Noteworthy faculty at Fred Hutch Cancer Center include Nobel laureate Dr. Linda Buck and MacArthur fellows Dr. Trevor Bedford and Dr. Mark Roth)

  3. You’ll get to build a valuable peer and mentor network: This network can be instrumental in your academic and professional journey, offering support and guidance as you navigate your future in the sciences.

  4. You might impress college admissions officers with this program on your resume: Participation in this program is likely to enhance your college application. Admissions officers are impressed by students who have engaged in meaningful research and hands-on experiences, giving you a strong advantage in the competitive college admissions process.

  5. Accessibility for low-income and underrepresented student groups: The Fred Hutch program prioritizes students coming from unrepresented backgrounds in the field of biomedical science. That’s not all - the program’s fully funded nature ensures that financial constraints do not limit your access to this experience and opens the doors for more such opportunities in the future. As an intern, you’ll also get a stipend! The duration of the program (eight weeks) ensures an immersive experience, and the heavy focus on lab safety ensures you build an underrated but excellent foundation skill set.


Cons

  1. The internship has a demanding nature: It's important to note that this program is intensive and full-time. This means you will need to commit a significant amount of time and effort to make the most of this opportunity. While it's rewarding, it can be demanding and may require effective time management.

  2. No option or provision for housing: Unlike some programs that offer residence options, the Fred Hutch High School Internship Program does not provide housing. This means you'll need to make your own living arrangements in Seattle for the eight weeks of the internship, which can be a logistical challenge or financially restrictive for some participants.

  3. The program is competitive: While this is not a bad thing if you do get selected, the competitive nature of the program does lower your chances of being accepted. Make sure you have a plan B so you can make the most of your summer! Here are a few more medical research opportunities you can apply to as a safety net.



Our Review

The Fred Hutch High School Internship Program offers a great opportunity for high school students interested in biomedical research. It's an excellent fit for ambitious students with a passion for science and a desire to gain real-world research experience. The program's commitment to accessibility ensures that it's inclusive for low-income families and fosters a diverse learning environment, enriching the experience.


However, you should be prepared for an intensive, full-time commitment. You should also think through the miscellaneous costs such as housing.


The Fred Hutch High School Internship Program can be a valuable stepping stone for aspiring doctors and scientists, providing a unique glimpse into the world of biomedical research. It's ideal for those willing to dedicate their summer to rigorous learning and research.



One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research in biology, engineering and other STEM fields, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center logo, Group photo credits

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