It is no big secret that connections make the world go round - though it certainly took me far too long to realize the primacy of networking over talent, hard work, and all the other virtues. You can be exceptional, but that contributes little to your chances of success in life if no-one knows about it. If you want to work at the best and most important tasks in your field, then you have to make connections with the people who are doing that already. No-one collaborates with random folk from out of the blue: they hire the people they know and they form companies with the people they know. It is routinely the case that connections will put you in the position to become good far more reliably than being good will put you in the position to make connections.
If you are a successful, motivated student in the medical life sciences, working in a field such as genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and so on, then you are already good, a cut above the average. But are you setting yourself up for mediocrity and a hard time in your industry by virtue of failing to put yourself out there? Internships are one way to build the connections needed to get the choice opportunities that only come to those in the network, but don't wait to go through formal channels. There are no rules to these things. Do you like the work that a particular laboratory is doing? Then contact the people working on it and say something. Reach out and make the connection.
Even in an exciting, rapidly growing, changing, revolutionary industry like the intersection of biotechnology and medicine there are the doldrums and the bad jobs and the make-work and the dross. Molecular biologists with connections have the choice of filtering that out to attempt world-changing research in young companies or well-known laboratories - while the rest get to slog through the job market looking for something that is work, not a vocation.
My recommendation for today: the most important research of the next few decades revolves around rejuvenation, the repair of the causes of aging, and producing cures for age-related conditions that work in entirely new ways. At the center of all the myriad connections and relationships in this research community are the folk who work with the SENS Research Foundation. The Foundation is very interested in producing the molecular biology community of the future to expand work in this area and see it through to completion, and hence they offer many opportunities to students: internships, the opportunity to build connections, and so on. But to hell with the structure of it - that's just a suggestion, not a set of rules carved in stone. If you can read the Foundation's research reports, and look at the cutting edge work that they sponsor and be excited about it, then just open up a dialog. Reach out, let them know you exist and are interested: that already puts you far ahead of the rest of the field.
Becoming known to the SENS Research Foundation principals and researchers is something that you can make pay off: not just the chance to do things that are truly meaningful in medical research, but also to forge the connections that will allow you to have the career that you want to have, rather than the career that you have to settle for. The Foundation staff know everyone who is anyone in the life science fields and laboratories that are important to aging and future medicine to prevent and reverse aging.
So, look, let me point out exactly what I mean by all of this, by way of directing your attention to the outcome of a 2012 internship at the SENS Research Foundation:
Jennie received her B.A. with majors in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Integrative Physiology, and Neuroscience, from the University of Colorado at Boulder in May 2012. During her internship with SENS Research Foundation (SRF) in Mountain View, CA, Jennie attempted to identify genes involved in the Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) Mechanism.
After completing her summer internship, Jennie was recruited by former SRF researchers in Central New York and co-founded Ichor Therapeutics, Inc. The company works to develop and commercialize research and clinical products in the field of regenerative medicine. She is listed as co-author on the company research and business proposal that landed a $450,000 seed grant from Life Extension Foundation. In addition to her work at Ichor, she is currently a laboratory assistant at the lab of Dr. Sarah E. Hall at Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences.
Other interns have similar stories of success and impressive placements. People do not get randomly recruited by startups, or randomly raise funds from the LEF - it happens because of who you know. The best opportunities only arise because of the people that you know, and because of the people who know that you exist. So make connections, and more to the point take the actions that will raise the odds of you being able to make high quality connections in your industry. If you are in molecular biology, bioinformatics, or a similar field, then you should talk to the SENS Research Foundation, take it from me. They have a very impressive network, and they are the ground floor of what will be the dominant medical industry of the 2020s and later decades.