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Career Development Story: From Laboratory Operations Intern to Molecular Technologist

Stephanie, Molecular Technologist, Former Laboratory Operations Intern

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Everything Happens for a Reason 

In 2018 I was a college sophomore majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology. I knew I wanted to help cancer patients someday, but I didn’t know how. I considered becoming an oncologist, entering the drug discovery and development field, or becoming a researcher. The possibilities were endless.  

When I heard about Foundation Medicine’s mission to transform cancer care and the deep scientific insights that fuel this mission, I was excited by the thought of joining a company that was helping physicians connect their patients to the latest cancer treatments. The day I interviewed for the Laboratory Operations Intern position was special. I had never seen a laboratory of that size and scale, and to say I was in awe would be an understatement. 

Foundation Medicine was able to offer me an opportunity that combined my love of science and laboratory work, with my passion for improving the lives of cancer patients. This introduction to the company as a college sophomore changed the trajectory of my life and serves as a good example of “everything happens for a reason!”   

 

The True Intern Experience  

The Laboratory Operations Internship allows individuals to learn about every aspect of Foundation Medicine, from clinical processing to pharmaceutical partnerships. The program allowed me to debulk packages in accessioning, read pathology reports, organize Formalin Fixed, Paraffin Embedded (FFPE) blocks and slides, watch samples be cut and stained in histology, and shadow molecular technologists performing DNA extraction, library construction, hybrid capture, and sequencing. We also had presenters from the Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Medical Data Reporting departments educate us on what happens after tumor samples are sequenced, which helps to provide doctors and patients with the insights to inform personalized treatment options. Additionally, presenters from Research & Development informed us of the important ongoing research that help us continue our mission of transforming cancer care.  

I enjoyed the fast-paced work of supporting our molecular technologists during clinical processing. Interns perform daily, weekly and monthly equipment maintenance, stock the laboratory, prepare reagents and labware, organize batch records, help with various process improvement projects, and prepare a year end presentation on a laboratory topic of choice. 

Not only did I learn about the work done in the laboratory and the technical skills it takes to complete these processes successfully, but I also found that everyone in the Laboratory Operations department was extremely warm and welcoming. The molecular technologists and leadership team created a wonderful environment for us to work in, one where we felt supported and cared for. Each time one of my intern periods ended, I went back to school wanting more. I came back after each semester with more questions and heightened eagerness to learn and make a difference. That’s another wonderful thing about being an intern at Foundation Medicine; you can see how your contributions have an impact on a patient’s cancer care journey. 

 

A Continuing Journey of Growth  

My time as an intern helped shape my career decisions. Seeing the important work done at Foundation Medicine helped me realize that this was the right path for me. After I graduated college in May of 2020, I was offered a full-time position as a Molecular Technician, before being promoted to a Molecular Technologist I. In my current role, I process patient samples by performing DNA digestion, extraction, library construction, and quality control assays. The leadership team within the Laboratory Operations department has supported and guided me to where I am today, and I am extremely grateful for their mentorship. From a student to a working professional, Foundation Medicine has made a positive impact on my growth and development.

 

Making the Most of your Internship

If I could offer advice to future interns, it would be to take advantage of all the opportunities that are offered at Foundation Medicine. Even if something is outside of your comfort zone or knowledge base, I encourage anyone to tackle those tasks head on because I’ve learned that the most growth comes from challenging yourself. Also, ask questions and don’t be afraid to take the initiative. As an intern, it can be intimidating to come into a landscape you’re not familiar with, but everyone here is genuinely kind and wants to share their knowledge with you, as well as learn from you. Believe in yourself and take chances, even if you’re unsure or not completely confident on how to proceed. It can be daunting, but it’s worth it.  

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make connections during your internship. I tried my best to learn everyone’s names and a little bit about their personal lives— something as simple as asking your coworkers how their weekend went goes a long way. Developing those relationships was enriching not only professionally, but also personally. When you get to learn about the people you work alongside, it makes the work you do that much more meaningful.   

My internship experience not only led me to find my passion and place within the company, but it has been a huge part of figuring out who I am as a person. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to intern here, which turned into my dream full-time position. I look forward to my future at Foundation Medicine and more growth and development to come. 

 

View our 2022 open internship positions here.

 

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