Program director helps students gain experience, networking opportunities in life and health sciences
Feb. 27, 2014
For seven years, Brandi Gilbert has played a pivotal role for IUPUI students eager to explore the world of health care careers, particularly in research, as the director of the Life-Health Sciences Internship Program.
The LHSI program connects IUPUI undergrads seeking life and health sciences degrees with research and professional internships on or near the IUPUI campus. The students get to explore career goals while gaining professional connections with faculty and staff in IUPUI’s graduate and professional programs.
“It’s a nice (track for) pre-professional students who want to learn what life as a researcher would be like,” said Gilbert. “It helps serve students that come from all over the academic map here at IUPUI.”
The interns, who work for a full academic year, come from 27 different majors and minors spanning seven schools on the IUPUI campus, Gilbert said.
Since the program was launched in 2007, nearly 300 students have had a chance to spend a year with faculty mentors, testing their interest and skills in the life sciences.
In 2011, the program added intern ambassadors, former interns who help recruit future interns by telling other students about their experiences.
“They can answer a whole range of questions that potential interns ask,” Gilbert said. “It has been a valuable position for us to create.”
LHSI is designed for students in their sophomore and junior years of school, which allows the program to focus on retention and graduation efforts, Gilbert said.
Internships run from late August to early May each year, with students working up to 10 hours per week. Participants in the program showcase their work during an LHSI poster session each April.
LHSI is not the only path open to students who want to pursue health care career tracks. “It’s just one of the constellation of opportunities available on our campus for students,” Gilbert said.
Other colleges and universities with strong interest in life sciences training have expressed an interest in the LSHI, Gilbert said, and IUPUI has been happy to pass along its insights. However, she noted that “budgets are so tight that not a lot of places have been able to follow suit.” In that respect, the LHSI director believes that IUPUI’s commitment to the program is even more commendable.
Gilbert has been with the program throughout its history, and she has seen a lot of value.
“The opportunity for students to explore whether an internship offers them what they seek is huge,” she said. “They have a year to see all aspects of the work, to see whether a field is for them.”
The program also offers a terrific networking opportunity for students.
“I hear that more students are coming to IUPUI because of the health schools that we have, and the LHSI program is a great way to get connections,” she said. “This program is one of the best ways for students to get one-on-one time with faculty and researchers, and get to know what a healthcare career has to offer.”