Biology Internship Program - BIO 380 (1-2 hours of credit)

Description and Objectives of Biology Internships

Both January term and regular semester internships provide an opportunity for students to learn about potential career choices. All internships involve a direct association with an institution or professional individual and are distinct from independent study. Internships are generally work-oriented and observational rather than academically-oriented. 

One major goal of this experience is to allow students a first-hand look at a profession they are considering for their future. The internship allows students opportunities to observe and/or experience both the attributes and drawbacks of a particular profession. Experiences that foster greater immersion are more desirable in this regard, e.g., an internship consisting of a 3-week, full-time experience has significant advantages over one made up of 3-hour/week blocks over a longer time period. The internship experience often solidifies the interest in the respective profession, and many students who intern are motivated to work even harder to prepare themselves for that particular career route. However, sometimes students discover that the reality is different then what they had imagined, and that the profession is not a good fit. This outcome is just as important (if not more) than the first, and will motivate the student to consider other career directions.

A second goal in this program is education. We feel that valuable learning derives from the volunteer service and observational experience made possible through this program. During the internship, we ask the students to i) keep a logbook of their observational experiences, ii) write several reflective essays, and iii) to write a short referenced paper using professional journals appropriate to the type of internship in which they are participating. We also request that the student's Off-Campus Supervisor fill out a very short evaluation of the student at the end of the program. These materials provide the means by which we evaluate the educational merits of the internship. 

Requirements for Bio 380 Internships

Notes: Bio 380 credits do NOT apply towards the biology major. Students cannot be compensated for their internship experience (or be employed part-time at the same place). One-two credits are awarded; evaluation is Credit/No Credit.

January Term Internships (2 credits): Expected to be full time involvement for a minimum of 3 weeks during January. The January Internship experience will fulfill the JII (Study Away) general education requirement.

Internships during the regular semester (1-2 credits): At least 40 interning hours are required for one credit, in a minimum of one 3-hour blocks of time per week during the semester (3 hrs/week of actual observation, travel time to and from site is not included). 

Summer Internships (1-2 credits): At least 40 interning hours are required for one credit. These internships will be negotiated individually, but in general, a shorter period of full-time observation (e.g. 2 full weeks) is recommended over a longer period of observational “blocks.”

Expectations of Students: Students are expected to abide by all the codes and ethics of the particular profession they are observing and to conduct themselves as mature, responsible, and respectful individuals. Supervisors have discretion to implement policies appropriate to their place of employment and profession.

Bio 380 Prerequisites: 12 credit hours in biology (including Bio 151 & 152) at Luther and approval of the Biology Department. With departmental consent, applicants may be able to substitute other science coursework for portions of the 12 credit biology requirement.

Specific academic requirements that must be completed for this course include: 

  1. writing a daily log of observational activities.
  2. a weekly (or monthly if semester-long internship) reflective essay on the best/worst aspects of the profession you are in and what strengths/weaknesses you bring.
  3. a short paper (3-5 pages) appropriate to the type of internship in which you are participating, which involves some research in the profession's literature and/or journals.
  4. an evaluation of your participation by your immediate Off-Campus Supervisor(s) during the internship experience.

General Application Procedure for Bio 380 Internships

Internship application forms are available in SHL 231 (Michelle’s office). Due dates for internship applications through the Biology Department are as follows:

  • SEPTEMBER 1st for fall internships
  • OCTOBER 15th for departmental J term internships or Mayo Clinic research internships           
  • DECEMBER 1st for January internships other than “departmental” internships
  • February 1st for spring semester internships
  • MAY 1st for summer internships.

Completed forms should be returned to the Biology Department (Lynn Williams). 

  • If applying for departmental internships, list them in order of choice and provide rationale for your choices. Also indicate anticipated housing and/or particular housing requirements. 
  • If applying for non-departmental internships, make sure to include sufficient information in the description, including internship location(s), supervisor(s), anticipated activities/observations, and specific days and hours scheduled/planned. Also indicate anticipated housing. 

Following department evaluation, the Biology Internship Coordinator (Enos-Berlage) will notify students on the status of their application. Approved internship applications will then be forwarded to the Career Center, which will then forward them to the Registrar.

For further information or questions, contact:

Jodi Enos-Berlage, Faculty Internship Advisor
Department of Biology
Phone: (563) 387-1554

Career Center
Phone (563) 387-1472

Bio 380 Internship Categories

I.  Student-designed Internships (developed by student in consultation with Internship Coordinator (Enos)

Options to Consider for Finding an Internship:

This is the most common type of internship, in which the student takes the initiative for making direct arrangements with off-campus professionals and/or institutions. One important consideration that often strongly influences an internship location is housing. Often, students will seek available opportunities where they have available housing. Within this restriction, students should consider several options to develop an internship, listed here:

  • Opportunities through the Luther Career Center:  These internships generally involve willing and interested alumni in the respective profession. Students seeking currently available internship opportunities should visit “Career Connection” on the Luther Career Center’s website. To log in, click on “Students” and use your complete Luther email address as the username and your Luther ID number for the password. Students can also consult with the Career Center to identify possible alumni to contact in a given location.
  • Contacts through established professional or healthcare relationships involving family/friends. 
  • Contacts to area healthcare centers/clinics/companies/etc. In this case, the initial first contact is often the Human Resources Director at such an institution.

Recommendations for making an initial contact: initial contact with the internship site is best accomplished by an initial phone call or email that confirms you are talking to the appropriate person for your inquiry. It is recommended to follow this initial contact with something in writing, (so that communication is clear and it can be shared easily with other appropriate personnel). This description should include a brief introduction stating who you are and how you learned about the internship site, and why you are specifically interested in the experience. The description should also answer several key questions for the internship site. These points are recommended to include:

  • That you cannot be paid for the internship.
  • That the structure of the experience is to create a situation that is as ‘easy’ for the provider as possible.
  • Luther handles all of the academic evaluation and documentation; there is no paperwork required of the supervisor except for a simple one page evaluation.
  • The specific structure of the internship is very flexible, i.e., an internship could involve one or multiple supervisors or departments (this is important, as it is much easier for a site to rotate an intern through multiple providers/departments, especially if the internship is over a three week period.
  • Confirmation of your understanding that the internship activities are likely to be mostly, if not entirely, observational (particularly if the site is a healthcare setting), and that you understand the importance of patient confidentiality and possible requirements for healthcare screenings, etc.
  • A clear statement about the time requirements of the internship, e.g., at least three weeks of full-time experience in January term. Emphasize that the internship is for course credit at Luther College, and the time requirements are established in part to validate the credit.

Do not expect of ask for an answer in the initial contact. Rather, offer to contact the site within a week's time to see if an internship experience might be possible. Detailed arrangements should emerge in follow-up contacts. Students should bear the brunt of contact work, make every attempt to minimize the professional's time in the process.

Established opportunities

Finally, several external, but formal internship programs are in place that Luther students have applied to in the past, and/or that the biology department has more established contacts with. For each of these, see Dr. Enos if you would like more information. These include:

A. Healthcare Internships, CentraCare Clinic Premed Shadowing Program (St. Cloud, MN): There is an independent selection process for this program. Application must be made directly to St. Cloud; students must have own housing. Have both 4 week winter and summers terms. 

B. Research Internships (Mayo Clinic): Students interested in this option first need to identify and contact potential research mentors from Mayo Clinic’s website. After mutual agreement with the student, the mentor needs to contact their Human Resource staffing specialist to complete the paperwork for the intern process. Housing is available through Mayo at the student’s cost.

C. Other: The biology department internship coordinator is familiar with other types of non-departmental affiliated healthcare internship experiences, e.g., dental, physical therapy, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, Heart Center, biotech, environmental, etc. and can offer some ideas and contacts in these areas.

II.  Departmental Internships (coordinated and selected through Biology department)

Note: Applications for all of these internships must be received by October 15th.

A. Healthcare Internships:  The department selects students to participate in the following programs that allow students to shadow medical doctors and other healthcare personnel:

  • Gundersen Clinic, La Crosse, WI (4 students – housing arranged for the Gundersen site)
  • Decorah Medical Clinic (Gundersen), Decorah, IA (1-2 students)
  • Winneshiek Medical Center, (Mayo), Decorah, IA (1-3 students)          
  • Family Care Clinic, Decorah, IA (1-2 students)
  • J term or Summer Healthcare Internship Trip to Haiti with Dr. Josh White (1-2 students for ~1 week in J term and/or June): Special application required, travel costs are covered by student. Most students couple this experience with additional observations in a healthcare setting in order to meet the 3-week full time requirement for Bio 380 in J term.

* Please note that some of these internship programs require background checks, health screenings, and CPR certification (2-man C), sometimes at the students’ cost. (If a healthcare internship, assume this.)  See Dr. Enos for details on health screenings and CPR certification. 

B. Research Internships: The department selects students to participate during January term in undergraduate research at the University of Iowa Biosciences Program and the University of Arizona-Tucson. St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix and the University of Utah-Salt Lake City also have winter term opportunities. Housing expense is currently not provided for these programs. See Dr. Enos if interested.