Student Spotlight: Yuka Miura Wants to Work in Biotech, and a Summer Internship Is Helping Her Get There

Yuka Miura (Photo courtesy of Miura)

By Lida Tunesi

Yuka Miura, a third-year Ph.D. student in Biology, intends to work in the biotech or pharmaceutical field. This spring, with help from the Graduate Center’s Office of Career Planning and Professional Development, she surmounted a number of obstacles to land a paid internship that will get her closer to her goal. 

“I want to work in industry, and it is very important to have work experience beforehand,” she said.

It can be difficult for graduate students in laboratory science fields to pursue internships because their funding sources often require them to work in the laboratory full-time, even during the summer. But for students like Miura who intend to work in industry, the extra effort to find a paid position and fit it into their Ph.D. timeline is worthwhile.

This summer, Miura, an international student from Hokkaido, Japan, will intern with IAVI, formerly known as the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a nonprofit that researches vaccines and other preventions for HIV, tuberculosis, emerging infectious diseases, and neglected diseases such as snakebite. Miura will work in IAVI’s Brooklyn laboratory, helping to design and produce a vector, the molecular vehicle that delivers antigens to certain cells in the body, triggering a response that increases immunity.

At the Graduate Center, Miura works with Professor Allyson Friedman (GC/Hunter, Biology), studying mechanisms of stress adaptations in the brain. Miura was undeterred by the difference between her Ph.D. work and the internship topic.

“I need to learn some new techniques during my internship, like mammalian cell culture, but that is something I wanted in order to broaden my job opportunities in the future,” she said. “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, too.”

Emily Seamone, an adviser with the career planning office, explained that the appeal of careers other than increasingly scarce faculty roles is leading more lab sciences graduate students to seek internships.

“Internships can be an incredibly valuable way to not only test out a potential career path, but also gain experience applying the transferable skills gained from their Ph.D. in the non-academic world,” Seamone said. “Oftentimes, a student needs only a bit of experience in a new field to create new career possibilities for themselves — and this is true for many fields.”

Miura began to look for positions when pandemic restrictions started easing up this spring, and sought out support from the career planning office. Seamone helped her review her résumé and cover letter, and conducted mock interviews over Zoom, which Miura recorded so she could review her responses.

“Our office assists students with finding and landing internships by first helping them learn about the different careers they might pursue with their specific backgrounds, determine which career paths sound most interesting to them, and understand the types of internships that might be available in those fields,” Seamone said. From there, advisers review the places students can look for internships, help students with networking plans, and even offer support for job offer negotiations. 

On the student’s end, they also need to coordinate their plans with their Ph.D. work. Miura wrapped up her lab experiments for the season and plans to do data analysis over the summer in addition to her work at IAVI. Miura said that Friedman was a big help in the process. 

“It’s important to have good communication with your adviser,” she said. “At the end of my second year I talked with my P.I. about the plan for the remaining period of my Ph.D. to be on the same page,” Miura said. “My P.I. is very supportive of me doing an internship in order to be successful after graduation.”

Published by the Office of Communications and Marketing

Submitted on: JUN 21, 2021

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