A Collaborative Approach to Work-Based Learning: Addressing the Needs of Community College Biotechnology Students and their Research University Mentors
Although technical training at community colleges can prepare students for work in the biotechnology industry, industry and academic employers are sometimes hesitant to hire students with less than bachelor-level degrees. Successful internship programs that integrate work-based learning and undergraduate research experiences can increase the competitiveness of community college-trained students for these positions. The City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is collaborating with the Office of Career Planning and Development at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to address this problem. This collaboration aims to align the Biotechnology Internship program at CCSF with the PhD-level Mentor Training program at UCSF. The CCSF students will work on research projects under supervision of UCSF mentors, while both are being trained on how to build effective mentor/intern relationships. In this way, the project will support productive relationships between UCSF mentors and their CCSF interns. This collaborative mentor/intern model is expected to help the interns develop technical and employability skills, and help mentors enhance their ability to train and supervise a diverse workforce.
The goals of this project are to increase the number of CCSF interns who work with trained UCSF mentors and to improve the quality of the intern-mentor relationship. The project aims to achieve these goals through an evidence-based, iterative approach to curriculum and program development by: a) identifying the needs of the CCSF students and their UCSF mentors; b) modifying the CCSF Internship and UCSF Mentor Training programs to respond to unaddressed needs; and c) examining whether joint interventions to align both training curricula improves the intern's and mentor's experience. The project includes a research component that can contribute new knowledge about and understanding of practices that increase the success of mentored research experiences. Furthermore, enhanced curricula, interventions, and tools identified by this project can be used more broadly to develop and enhance professional development for internship programs, graduate and postdoctoral training of mentors, faculty training, and industry professional training, with a focus on improved retention of diverse student populations.