Career Clusters

Internship Spotlight: Frank Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Photo of Melanie Wu, MCAS '20
Melanie Wu, MCAS ’20

I am currently a senior studying Biochemistry with minors in Bioinformatics and Finance. In Summer 2019, with the help of Eagle Intern Fellowship, I interned as a research trainee at the Frank Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. I mainly focused on a project concerning Glioblastoma Multiforme brain cancer cells, as well as some smaller bioinformatics projects. With the help from my supervisors, we were able to successfully knock down the expression of our gene of interest in three cell lines and conduct experiments to verify whether the gene affect the way the cells react to a cancer treatment drug. I enjoyed my experience immensely, and I was amazed by the innovative work which connects my classroom knowledge to real work applications. I also made friendships with my supervisors and fellow summer student interns. 

My experience exemplified “learning one step at a time.” I didn’t know much about research going in, but my supervisor was very patient and easy to talk to. I was able to observe and learn many laboratory skills that I never learned in school, and I was able to apply conceptual knowledge to the professional setting. My experience made me appreciate the usage of bioinformatics computation in biomedical research and the creative thinking and rigorous planning behind conducting research projects, and it pushed me to consider if academic research is something I want to pursue in the future.

We had a couple summer student interns, each following a post doc fellow and focusing on different projects. Each week, my lab had a weekly summer student meeting and two students give a thirty-minute informal presentation in front of the whole research group, including the primary investigator, post-docs, and other students. It was a great reflection of the work I had done over the summer, and it forced me to actually learn the material thoroughly to explain to other people. 

The internship broadened my horizons and provided me with opportunities to meet amazing people from all over the world who share the same passion for biomedical research. I grew very close with my direct supervisor. She shared her journey to get to where she is right now, her grad school experience and why she chose to do research in the first place. I got to talk to and get to know every single one of the summer students and appreciate the richness of human connection in our lab, completely different than what I expected initially. Overall, the people in my lab offered me tremendous help in learning new laboratory skills, communications, and changed my view on academic research. 

Knowing that I chose an internship in the field that I love inspired me to go to work everyday, to be ready to learn new skills, and to meet other people who share the same enthusiasm. At some point during my experience, I felt like I had settled into a routine, doing endless experiments with no immediate outcome. However, I had come to terms that what I was doing can provide potential advancement for my lab and other research institutions on finding cancer related targets and stem cell therapeutic treatments. 

My advice to people who are looking for internship opportunities:

First, for the biology field, internship opportunities are usually posted throughout the spring semester. Definitely keep track of how, when, and what to submit in your application. 

Second, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and explore a “wrong” internship. At this initial stage, you shouldn’t limit yourself to a specific field or job type while missing all the amazing opportunities around you. If you don’t apply, you will never get it. If you don’t try, you will never know if you like it or not.

As an international student, I understand there are often restrictions placed on us. Some companies and programs filter out applicants based on citizenship or visa status. I was very fortunate to have found the academic research field that welcomed foreign scholars and researchers, and Eagle Intern Fellowship that is open to international students. Definitely don’t let these restrictions discourage you. Instead, expand the scope of your search. Don’t limit your options!

The Eagle Intern Fellowship really got me thinking about what I want to get out of the internship, college education, and, ultimately, life. I was fortunate to find my passion for research while knowing that my work could potentially help other people.

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