What Can Biotechnology Students Get from Internship in Consultation Company?


As a UCSI University student, an internship is a compulsory activity for an undergraduate student to complete the degree program. It’s not just any internship but needs to be related to the major taken by the student.

Biotechnology students tend to choose internships in the laboratory of biotechnology companies. Few students are keen to explore the business side of the biotechnology industry. Or is it due to the lack of awareness about biotechnology careers outside laboratories?

In any case, I chose to explore biotech business aspects during my internship and chose to do an internship at a consulting company that deals exclusively with science-based industries.

Biotechnology students can be basically divided into two major categories. The first category includes students who are technically strong, research inclined and interested in laboratory-based careers after graduating from university. The second category consists of students who are more interested in business aspects and entrepreneurship. These students perform better when they are learning business aspects. Typically, universities do not do much for such students.

Most universities focus on academic and technical aspects. Though some universities include subjects related to entrepreneurship to help students understand the basics of the biotechnology industry, the scope is not deep enough to give students enough exposure. This is where a meaningful internship related to biotech business can help.

During my internship, I learned that a biotechnology graduate has numerous career options other than laboratory-based jobs. For example, a biotechnology graduate with strong mathematical skills can excel as a biotechnology financial analyst in an investment banking firm. They also have the prospect of working for insurance companies or law firms dealing with intellectual property matters.

Consultancy is another alternative career option for biotech graduates. In consultation companies, biotechnology graduates may find themselves involved in writing reports about science-based industries.

The skills that students receive in university is largely different from what is needed to be successful as a research analyst in a consulting company. This is because consultancy companies tend to work more on the business side of the biotechnology industry.

Hence, students get an opportunity to learn more about the biotechnology industry as a whole, if they are doing an internship in a consultancy company. Some of the skills students can develop by interning in a science-based consultation company include the following:

1. Professional Writing Skills

Typically, consultancy companies provide information on market strategies, government regulations, competitive landscape, etc to clients in various report formats. The writing style used for developing such reports is completely different from scientific writing as well as creative writing. The style of writing can be different depending upon the project objective. The language and writing style are used in such a way that clients are able to make fast and effective business decisions even if they lack a science background.

2. Sourcing relevant information

Unwritten know-how on how to find relevant industry information exists among business consultants. Internship with a consultancy firm will offer a peek into how consultancy companies derive difficult to get market insights.

Most importantly, the information obtained must come from trusted sources. The information has to be the most current as well. Special care needs to be employed to assess if the information collected is still relevant in the industry. Any information older than 3 years ago tends to be less relevant as the situation might have changed significantly.

Market insights are gathered through secondary as well as primary research. Identifying the best sources for deriving market insights is an important activity. After allocating sufficient time for gathering important insights about the industry through secondary research sources, one moves to primary research, where the focus is to derive maximum insights through communicating with industry professionals. Primary research involves calling or sending the email with questions to people who are active in the industry.

3. Communication skills

Communication skill is as important as writing skills for a consultancy career. During market research, it is important for interns to talk to develop strong communication skills so that they can be effective during primary research when they talk to senior professionals in various companies that are active in the market. The objective of primary research is to obtain insights and information that can’t be obtained through the internet. This is where good communication skills assist in obtaining insights and information that are otherwise difficult to get.

4. Soft skills in work

Same as in the case of any other type of internships, soft skills are important to be successful in the consultancy field as well. Teamwork is an important part of the internship as interns and employees need to work together.

Discipline is another important factor as consultation companies usually have the deadline for their projects. Time management is critical as consultation companies have more than one project at the same time.

Overall, all the above skills can be developed by signing up for an internship in consultancy companies. While these skills are essential for successfully completing an internship, the experience can be applied in other areas including completing university assignments effectively. The experience definitely can assist students to be better in whatever they decide to do.

Viorenda Thery Wijaya - Summer InternBy Viorenda Thery Wijaya, Market Research Analyst (Summer Intern)

Biotechnology undergraduate student, final year, UCSI University, Malaysia

February 11, 2019

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