The Employer Perspective
Although Corning is at the start of its experience with the life science apprenticeship program, excitement is running high. As the first apprentice hire, Austin has already been in touch with his work experience team and sees great potential for the future.
"Sylvia [Jarest] explained how there's always room to grow," says Austin. "Our conversation has me believing more and more that this is really the place for me."
This anticipation is shared by Jarest, who noted that Corning has been fully involved in the lead-up to Austin's start.
"This is our first year with the program," says Jarest. "We've talked with several instructors in the program, and in July joined one of the classes to share our experiences and discuss real-world scenarios a new hire could face in the workplace."
The Corning team shared information on how to build relationships and how technicians contribute to Corning Life Science. Jarest is confident that keen apprentices will bring a great amount of value as new hires.
"These apprentices will bring a basic foundational knowledge of life science with hands-on lab training," she says. "This helps us accelerate onboarding and training time."
Life Science Apprenticeships Launch Careers in Biotech
"Once I graduated from high school, I wasn't too sure about what career I could pursue," says Austin, noting that at first he followed the engineering tradition set by his family. With that kind of background, and a considerable understanding of the concept of engineering, he took what he describes as the safe route. "I tried a year of college to explore the engineering field, but that didn't really suit me."
Austin has found the classroom session extremely valuable, noting that his training ranged from biology and the difference between eukaryotes and prokaryotes to accurate measurement with pipettes to the importance of standard operating procedures and QA in maintaining product consistence.
"My best experience so far is being in the lab," says Austin. "It gave me a chance to get a feel for the equipment we'll be using and how to properly put on PPE gear."
Austin's preference for learning in-person was matched with classroom experience. He has found that he loves preparing buffers and learning about using the biosafety cabinet to produce solutions correctly.
He also enjoyed the group work and team assignments, where one assignment brought in sustainability issues as the group explored the correct uses and selection of plastics in the lab. Austin also advises that keeping an open mind and open lines of communication is key to maximizing gains in the apprenticeship program.
"The best way for my peers to prepare for the MassBioEd program is to have an open mind, be ready to learn, and have the dedication for the work that has to be done," he explains. "My best tip is to communicate. Communication will bring you a long way in the program."
He also notes that the education program is extremely supportive, regardless of one's education and background.
"School does a really good job of bringing you in, in case you've never done any science before," Austin explains. "As we got further, it became more advanced, and that's when you start to really pick it up."
While Austin is a bit nervous about the start of the work experience term, he's also looking forward.
"The program has helped my career by allowing me to get my foot in the door and learn and grow from there," he notes enthusiastically.
Talanian echoes this sentiment: "It's a great opportunity! Free education with a stipend and a full year of well-paid, on-the-job training for invaluable experience," she says. "It is not just a new job, but truly an on-ramp to a lifelong fulfilling career. There are ample opportunities to grow professionally."