SBP graduate student Victoria Thaney's internship at Illumina

| Written by Guest Blogger
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Congratulations to Victoria Thaney, who was chosen for an internship at Illumina, a leader in developing sequencing technologies that was named the world's smartest company by MIT Technology Review in 2014. She was recently interviewed about her experience by Alexia Pimentel, SBP's graduate program coordinator.

What made you seek out and apply for the internship?

I wanted to identify a clear career path that is the best match for my personality, interests and training. Therefore, I needed to explore opportunities outside of the traditional academic setting, such as in industry. This allowed me to gain a realistic perspective, and practical experience of what it would be like to work in a biotech company.

What kind of research were you involved in?

I worked in product development, specifically optimizing assay biochemistry. I gained hands-on training in Illumina’s unique sequencing technologies and systems, and had the opportunity to fully apply my skills and education. I felt proud that I was able to contribute and have an impact in Illumina’s efforts to revolutionize personalized healthcare.

What is the most important lesson that you took from interning at Illumina?

What really struck me was how much Illumina values and supports teamwork. I learned in my internship the real benefit of a positive attitude and strong people skills, in addition to your scientific abilities. As a scientist you have to be independent in problem-solving, able to have focus, and expertise in your field. However, there will be many situations when you will need to ask for help and work with professionals outside of your field. You cannot work with a single aim to obtain more data for yourself, but need to be able to share your project with the team and be open to their ideas.

Would you recommend the internship to others?

Absolutely! Internships can help you identify your career path after graduation and give you an idea of whether or not a career in industry is something you are truly interested in. It will also help you network and make connections for future collaborations. While at Illumina I had many informal interviews with colleagues at different career stages and from all fields, where I learned about various opportunities my training may open up to me and how to break into those areas.

Do you feel more prepared for post-doc life and why or why not?

Simply said, yes! I feel more prepared for my post-grad life, and I am looking forward to my future prospects and job opportunities. Today I have a clear vision for my career path and for how I will use my Ph.D. training to contribute to the scientific community. The iAspire internship at Illumina helped me better understand my strengths and my weaknesses, and made me a more competitive candidate for the current job market both in industry and academia.

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