There's a lot more to getting into a good college than just grades. While you might be a straight-A student, things like practical experience, independent projects, and networking can give your application a bigger boost. Doing internships is one way for you to tick these boxes off. Most internships expose you to a high level of hands-on work and connect you with peers and professionals that you can learn a great deal from. In fact, you can use this kind of experience way beyond college applications and in all your future endeavors. One such internship in the field of biomedicine is the City of Hope's summer internship.
What is the Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy?
City of Hope's Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy is a research-based internship that takes place at City of Hope, a renowned cancer treatment and research center. The program provides high school and undergraduate students the opportunity to work on an independent research project within the field of biomedicine. Over the span of ten weeks, you will work as a full-time member of a professional biomedical research team and engage in hands-on lab work.
How is the City of Hope internship structured?
Since the focus of the program is on hands-on work, you will spend a lot of time in the lab. Along with lab work, you will also attend weekly meetings and seminars. During these meetings, faculty speakers will give talks on various subjects — academic topics like the study of neural stem cells as well as sessions on career pathways and advice. There will also be workshops on topics like biomedical ethics or poster creation. Student presentations during the seminars will allow you to get a look at your peers’ research work.
The summer academy culminates with a poster session where you will be allowed to present your project and its findings. Moreover, you get the chance to network and discuss your research with lab members, medical doctors, and other professionals from the community. Aside from academics, the program also sets out time for social activities like field trips, movie nights, and dinners.
This summer academy also offers the option of signing up for the CIRM/TEAMS program, a ten-week internship in one of City of Hope’s stem cell laboratories, and the YES2SUCCESS program, a research program for underrepresented students.
Is it a prestigious internship?
For students who are looking to pursue careers in medicine or research, this summer internship can be highly beneficial. City of Hope is a leading cancer research and treatment center in the country, known for its cutting-edge research and contributions to the field of oncology. An internship at a renowned institution such as this one is definitely a prestigious opportunity. The fact that it’s free and comes with a stipend (details below) is a further sign of the program’s prestige.
Moreover, this is a highly competitive program. Last year they accepted 82 students from 2,100 applications which is a 3.9% acceptance rate. About half of the accepted students were from high school narrowing the chance of acceptance even further. Getting into a selective program like this is a mark of your caliber as a student and can boost your college application.
Who is eligible?
The Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy is open to students who are:
At least 16 years of age before the program begins
High school or undergraduate students
U.S. citizens or permanent residents
Have completed high school courses in chemistry and biology
Is there a stipend?
Yes! Most interns receive a stipend of $4,000 as long as they complete the entire 10-week program.
Dates and deadlines
Here are all the dates that you need to keep in mind for this program (do keep in mind these are the dates for 2023 and those for future editions will be on similar lines):
Applications open: January 16, 2023
Applications close: March 16, 2023
Program starts: June 5, 2023
Program ends: August 11, 2023
What can you expect as an intern?
As a City of Hope intern, you will join a biomedical research team and work with them on ongoing lab experiments and projects. Your research will involve reading lab notebooks and journal articles, followed by discussing questions with your mentors. In the end, you will present your work at the poster session and submit a written report on your research. Regarding this end goal, one student said, “Knowing I had something tangible to work towards was not only motivating but enhanced my sense of personal accomplishment.”
During the internship, you will be mentored by City of Hope faculty members (physicians or scientists who will guide you at every stage). Throughout the coursework, you will also interact with lab personnel, post-doctorates, and graduate students. As mentioned above, the curriculum is structured using a combination of lab work, meetings, seminars, workshops, and social activities.
Can you choose your own research topic?
A highlight of this program is that you can select the focus of your research project based on your own interests. You will indicate your preferred area of research in the application itself. One of the previous intern’s projects looked at anti-HIV therapeutics using the RNA interference cellular pathway. Hydrogel-based delivery systems for therapeutic neural stem cells is another example of a student’s field of research.
To learn more about what topics the interns worked on, you can browse through these selected published works. If you’d like to know more about what students go on to do post-internship, you can have a look at some of the program’s alumni here. Some have even gone on to enroll at renowned universities like John Hopkins University of Medicine or Pomona College.
Pros and Cons
You will gain hands-on research experience: The kind of practical experience this internship offers is especially valuable for high schoolers since it is not typically available in school settings. You even get to work with cutting-edge facilities at a prominent institution.
You will get access to mentorship and networking opportunities: This program provides a unique opportunity to be mentored by a member of the City of Hope faculty, all of whom are highly skilled professionals in their field. You will also get the chance to network with other members of the scientific community and form relationships that will benefit you in the future.
Your research could lead to more significant outcomes: Taking part in this internship comes with tangible results even apart from your research project. Interns of this program have been known to become co-authors on papers, win scholarships, get invited to conferences, or even have their work translated into physical inventions.
You could be one step closer to your dream college: Being part of this prestigious program can enhance your college applications. The experience demonstrates a student's dedication to their field and their academic potential, making them a more attractive candidate.
The program is highly selective: The extremely competitive nature of the program can make it challenging for some students, who may not want to spend too much time and effort on an application with such a low acceptance rate.
The workload can be very intense: The research demands of the internship can be quite intense and require a full-time commitment, which may limit availability for other activities.
The location can be a hindrance: Being location-specific (at City of Hope in California), students must either live in the vicinity or relocate for the duration of the program, which might not be feasible for everybody.
It's important for you to carefully consider these factors, along with your own interests and goals, before applying to the City of Hope summer internship.
Should you apply?
While this internship specifically looks at biomedical research, it is a lucrative opportunity for any student interested in medicine, science, related fields, or even just research. There are several factors that make it a valuable internship for high school students — the prestige of an institution like City of Hope, the substantial stipend amount, and the incredible hands-on lab work. Moreover, there is a possibility of your research efforts extending beyond the program and making significant contributions to the field.
The high selectivity of the program can be a deterrent. But seeing as the application requirements are not too extensive — apart from general information, you need to describe why you want to do research and in which area of biomedicine — it could be well worth the effort.
Ultimately, the recognition and high level of research experience offered by the Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Academy make it a valuable opportunity for most students.
If you are interested in doing university-level research in biology, medicine, or other STEM subjects, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that 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 Ph.D. 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: Pomona College