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Undergraduate Internships

Opportunity Awaits

The journey to a Ph.D. starts far earlier than graduate school. To help undergraduate students prepare for the next steps in their academic careers, Van Andel Institute Graduate School is pleased to offer several outstanding programs.

For questions, please email [email protected].

Internship Opportunities

Summer internship programs are designed to provide undergraduate college students opportunities to be mentored by professionals in their chosen research field, to become familiar with the use of state-of-the-art scientific equipment and technology, and to learn valuable interpersonal and presentation skills. The goal of these programs is to expose aspiring researchers and clinicians to exciting advances in biomedical sciences that will help define their career paths.

Van Andel Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Affirmative Action Employer. We strongly encourage student applications from McNair Scholars and student applications from minority-serving institutions.

Each year, the Institute hosts 30-35 interns (10-week internships) in its laboratories and cores. Summer interns are paired with a scientific investigator and/or their designee for an intense 10-week research experience that provides interns with an understanding of the latest research methods, instruments and testing procedures. At the end of the internship, students give an oral presentation or poster presentation about their experience to the research staff.

Thank you to our sponsors and their generous gifts to support summer internship programs: 

  • Meijer Foundation 
  • Maas Family Foundation – Hope College 
  • Van Andel Institute Purple Community – Hope College 
  • Van Andel Institute Graduate School 
Learn more about this program

Van Andel Institute offers a research internship program (two positions / 6-9 week internships) designed to provide medical students the opportunity to work closely with a research mentor on a project exploring the cellular, molecular and genetic basis of human disease. The goal of this program is to introduce medical students to the concepts and practice of design, implementation, interpretation and presentation of basic biomedical research. This program has a separate application process from the other internship programs. 

Thank you to our sponsor and their generous gift to support the medical student internship program:  

  • Van Andel Institute Graduate School
Learn more about this program

Why Intern at VAI?

Summer interns gain a wealth of hands-on research experience during their time in the Institute’s labs. They play key roles in the day-to-day operations of the lab and have the opportunity to work closely with and learn from technicians, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, lab managers and their principal investigator.

Experiments

Interns design and conduct experiments as part of the projects underway in their assigned lab. The experimental approaches and specific techniques vary widely, depending on the lab’s expertise and the demands of their current projects. Approaches range from molecular biology (DNA, RNA and proteins) to cell biology (culturing and characterizing mammalian cells) to structural biology (X-ray analysis of protein crystals) to bioinformatics (making sense of huge volumes of genomic information). Interns are expected to maintain accurate and complete records of their work in lab notebooks, and to comply with appropriate lab safety guidelines.

Weekly meetings

Most labs have weekly meetings at which lab members (including interns) describe and discuss their results. Interns are also encouraged to attend weekly journal clubs during which recent papers from the scientific literature are presented. Van Andel Institute often hosts seminar speakers from other institutions, and each Friday a VAI scientist presents recent work in a Research in Progress talk.

Workshops

Several workshops and lunch events are designed specifically for summer interns. These include:

  • Workshops on effective oral communication, on preparing scientific posters and on career pathways
  • A lunch with postdoctoral fellows to discuss steps in scientific training and the range of career options
  • A workshop on the process of applying to and selecting graduate schools
  • A symposium with students presenting their research projects, via a talk or a poster, to Institute scientists.
Social events

Other events encourage team building and social interaction, such as an ice cream social, game night and Friday coffee chats.

Guest Student Program

Van Andel Institute hosts guest students who are seeking academic credit through their college or university. To receive academic credit, students must receive approval from their home institution.

BEFORE APPLYING
Review the inter-institutional policy for guest students
Review and complete the individual application for guest students

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS

  1. Completed guest student application
  2. Cover letter
  3. Resume
  4. Official transcript

DEADLINES  |  2023-2024 ACADEMIC SCHOOL YEAR

  • Fall Semester (August 2023-December 2023) | Apply by June 1, 2023
  • Winter Semester (January 2024-April 2024) | Apply by October 1, 2023
  • Summer Semester (May 2024-July 2024) | Apply by February 1, 2024

DEADLINES  |  2024-2025 ACADEMIC SCHOOL YEAR

  • Fall Semester (August 2024-December 2024) | Apply by June 1, 2024
  • Winter Semester (January 2025-April 2025) | Apply by October 1, 2024
  • Summer Semester (May 2025-July 2025) | Apply by February 1, 2025

International students are eligible to apply if they meet the requirements for the program and are legally permitted to work and earn income in the United States. Van Andel Institute does not sponsor visas for interns and guest students.

Undergraduate Student Research Internship Program

Van Andel Institute (VAI) offers a research internship program designed to provide undergraduate students the opportunity to work closely with a research mentor on a project exploring the cellular, molecular and genetic basis of human disease. The goal of this program is to introduce undergraduate students to the concepts and practice of design, implementation, interpretation and presentation of basic biomedical research.

We expect to support 30-35 internships (10-weeks/40 hours per week), depending on the needs of the Institute’s faculty and core directors/managers. Students are expected to work full-time for the duration of the internship, so participation in this program is not compatible with working at another job. Each experience will be different based on the research question, mentor and status of the project. Work environments include any of the basic science laboratories and core technologies at VAI.

The following program details apply to all summer interns except medical student interns. For more information on the requirements for that program, please visit our Medical Student Research Internship Program section.

2024 Application Process

The application process for the 2024 Summer Internship Program (SIP) has ended. If you are a 2024 Summer Internship Program student applicant or candidate/interviewee and have questions regarding the 2024 interview/selection process, session dates, orientation and summer holidays when VAI is officially closed, please contact Michelle Love at [email protected].

Applications for the 2025 Summer Internship Program will be accepted starting Dec. 1, 2024. The application deadline for the undergraduate 2025 Summer Internship Program is Feb. 1, 2025.

Undergraduate students are required to complete their internships in one of two sessions in 2024:

  • Session I: May 12, 2025-July 18, 2025
  • Session II: June 2, 2025-August 8, 2025

 

As Van Andel Institute is a drug and alcohol-free employer, all prospective new employees undergo a urinalysis/drug test as part of our pre-employment process. This is a 7-panel drug screen and it includes testing for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, PCP, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines.

VAI is committed to achieving excellence through increasing diversity. We actively encourage applications from women, persons of color, persons with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups.

Van Andel Institute is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) Employer.

Undergraduate college students must be currently enrolled in a science/research related degree program and maintain a minimum of a 3.0 GPA. Students who have graduated before the start date of and/or during the summer internship program (Apr. 1, 2025–Sept. 1, 2025) are ineligible. If you are currently enrolled as a high school student or in a Master’s degree program, you are ineligible to participate in the undergraduate research summer internship program.

Van Andel Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Affirmative Action Employer. We strongly encourage student applications from McNair Scholars and student applications from minority-serving institutions.

International students are eligible to apply if they meet the requirements for the program and are legally permitted to work and earn income in the United States. Van Andel Institute does not sponsor visas for interns.

Physical Demands
Assignments may involve the use of potentially hazardous chemicals, hazardous or radioactive materials, or maybe in areas where such materials are used. Adherence to safety policies and procedures along with proper storage and disposal methods are required.

Orientation
Student interns will be required to complete orientation. Session 1 interns will complete orientation on May 12 and May 13. Session 2 interns will complete orientation on June 2 and June 3.

Final Research Presentations
Student interns will be required to present a final research presentation at the end of their internship. Interns can give their final research presentation either as an oral presentation or poster presentation, or both. Session 1 final research presentations will take place on July 16 and July 17. Session 2 final research presentations will take place on August 6 and August 7.

Professional Development Events
Student interns will participate in professional development events. Mandatory professional development events include orientation, how to workshops on oral presentations and poster presentations, intern-led research in progress, networking events with interns from local colleges and universities, and final research presentations. Optional professional developments include Resume vs. CV workshop, and informational luncheons with Van Andel Institute Graduate School and VAI Postdoctoral Fellows.

Social Events
Student interns will have the opportunity to participate in optional social events including on-sites coffee conversations and intern brunches, as well as off-site dinners and recreational events.

Summer Holidays
Student Interns are not eligible for holiday pay on the following days VAI officially closes for business for the summer:

  • Memorial Day – Monday, May 26, 2025

  • Juneteenth – Thursday, June 19 2025

  • Independence Day – Friday, July 4, 2025

  • Labor Day – Monday, September 1, 2025

Housing
Local area colleges/universities may have student housing available. With the except undergraduate HBCU/UNCF students funded through Van Andel Institute Graduate School, students are responsible for their own travel, housing, room and board. See the funding sources and benefits section below for all undergraduate students.

Grand Valley State University (GVSU): https://www.gvsu.edu/internhousing/ 

Aquinas College: https://www.aquinas.edu/student-life/residence-life/

  • Find out more about our summer housing offerings and application process at https://sites.google.com/aquinas.edu/aq-summer-housing. Please note: It requires a google account to access the website.
  • Mike Ingram | Assistant Director
  • Email Address: [email protected]
  • Telephone Number: 616.632.2945
  • Schedule a Meeting: 30 Minute Meeting
  • Contact Mike Ingram regarding 2025 housing dates for Aquinas College

Calvin University: https://calvin.edu/offices-services/event-services/summer-intern-housing

Parking and Bike Racks
Student Interns will be offered FREE parking in the Michigan Street Development ramp during their internship. During the orientation process, Physical Security will provide Student Interns with a parking permit for their vehicle. The parking structure is located on Michigan Street, directly north of VAI. Parking in this ramp is contingent upon availability. Additionally, there are bike racks available for your use outside of the main entrance.

The Meijer Foundation (undergraduate: 20-25 positions) and Hope College/VAI Purple Community Games (undergraduate: one position)

  • Salary  |  $15.00 per hour
  • Reimbursement for on-demand transportation to and from home airport
  • Reimbursement for on-demand transportation to and from Gerald R. Ford International Airport (Grand Rapids)
  • Ground transportation (bus passes for student interns without vehicles)
  • Free covered parking for students with vehicles

Van Andel Institute Graduate School (undergraduate/HBCU: two positions)

  • Salary  |  $15.00 per hour
  • Housing costs
  • Air travel to and from Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Reimbursement for luggage fees-Reimbursement for on-demand transportation to and from home airport
  • Reimbursement for on-demand transportation to and from Gerald R. Ford International Airport (Grand Rapids)
  • Ground transportation (bus passes for student interns without vehicles)-Free covered parking for students with vehicles

Completed applications for the 2025 summer internship program will be reviewed by the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee and Van Andel Institute faculty after February 15, 2025. Applicants selected for interviews are generally contacted by mid-March and employment offers are extended by the end of March. If additional summer opportunities become available after this time, waitlisted applications may be considered.

All offers for the Undergraduate Student Research Internship Program positions will be contingent upon the satisfactory results of a Background Investigation and Drug Screen.

Required Documents: An attachment (electronic PDF file format) is required to support your online application:

A cover letter, resume and transcript will need to be combined as a single electronic PDF file and then uploaded as an attachment with your online application:

  • A cover letter indicating why you would like to participate in this internship and your career goals;
  • A resume, which includes your education, research experience, skills, volunteer experience, and publications (if any);
  • Official transcripts (as of Fall 2024) from your college or university. It is important to note you will be responsible for uploading your official transcripts to your online application. If your official transcript is protected, please scan a printed copy and save or convert as an electronic PDF file.

Incomplete application packets will not be considered.

Before you Apply: Review VAI faculty/lab profile and core technologies and services websites before answering the pre-employment questions on the online application:

You will be required to answer 13 pre-employment questions relating to eligibility, availability and research interest. Please review faculty/lab profiles and core profiles before completing pre-employment questions #12 and #13 on the online application.

  • Click HERE for laboratories/faculty profiles
    You will be required to list five labs of interest
  • Click HERE for core technologies and services
    You will be required to list two cores of interest

Additional Application Materials Required

  • Two (2) current letters of recommendation from college/university professors, research mentors, and/or supervisors. The deadline for letters of recommendation for undergraduate student applicants is Feb. 1, 2025. Recommenders are to submit letters of recommendation to [email protected]. Letters of recommendation are to be on Institute letterhead in the electronic PDF file format. Applicants are responsible for contacting professors, research mentors and/or supervisors to request letters of recommendation to be submitted to the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee. We recommend applicants provide a copy of this internship job description to recommenders. Applicants are NOT to submit their own letters of recommendation to the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee.
  • Online Application: Complete online application by using the “Apply Manually” option. DO NOT utilize the “Apply with Resume” or “Use My Last Application” options when filling out the online application.
  • Upload required single electronic PDF file that includes your cover letter, resume and official transcript.
  • Online Application: Applications for the 2025 Summer Internship Program-UNDERGRADUATE will be accepted starting December 1, 2024.
  • Visit https://www.vai.org/careers/ to access the online application.

Questions about applying for the summer internship program?

If you have questions about the summer internship program or the application process, please email the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee at [email protected].

Medical Student Research Internship Program

Van Andel Institute (VAI) offers a research internship program designed to provide medical students the opportunity to work closely with a research mentor on a project exploring the cellular, molecular and genetic basis of human disease. The goal of this program is to introduce medical students to the concepts and practice of design, implementation, interpretation and presentation of basic biomedical research.

We expect to support two internships (6-9 week internships/40-hours per week), depending on the needs of the Institute’s faculty and core directors/managers. Students are expected to work full-time for the duration of the internship, so participation in this program is not compatible with working at another job. Each experience will be different based on the research question, mentor and status of the project. Work environments include any of the basic science laboratories and core technologies at VAI.

2024 Application Process

Applications for the 2024 Summer Internship Program will be accepted starting Dec. 1, 2023. The application deadline for the undergraduate 2024 Summer Internship Program is Mar. 1, 2024.

The internship will be a six to nine-week research experience based on the time availability of the applicant.

As Van Andel Institute is a drug and alcohol-free employer, all prospective new employees undergo a urinalysis/drug test as part of our pre-employment process. This is a 7-panel drug screen and it includes testing for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, PCP, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines.

VAI is committed to achieving excellence through increasing diversity. We actively encourage applications from women, persons of color, persons with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups.

Van Andel Institute is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) Employer.

Medical students must be currently enrolled and in good standing with their medical school.

Van Andel Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Affirmative Action Employer. We strongly encourage student applications from McNair Scholars and student applications from minority-serving institutions.

International students are eligible to apply if they meet the requirements for the program and are legally permitted to work and earn income in the United States. Van Andel Institute does not sponsor visas for interns.

Physical Demands
Assignments may involve the use of potentially hazardous chemicals, hazardous or radioactive materials, or maybe in areas where such materials are used. Adherence to safety policies and procedures along with proper storage and disposal methods are required.

Orientation
Student interns will be required to complete orientation. Session 1 interns will complete orientation on May 6 and May 7. Session 2 interns will complete orientation on June 3 and June 4.

Final Research Presentations
Student interns will be required to present a final research presentation at the end of their internship. Interns can give their final research presentation either as an oral presentation or poster presentation, or both. Session 1 final research presentations will take place on July 10 and July 11. Session 2 final research presentations will take place on August 7 and August 8.

Professional Development Events
Student interns will participate in professional development events. Mandatory professional development events include orientation, how to workshops on oral presentations and poster presentations, intern-led research in progress, networking events with interns from local colleges and universities, and final research presentations. Optional professional developments include Resume vs. CV workshop, and informational luncheons with Van Andel Institute Graduate School and VAI Postdoctoral Fellows.

Social Events
Student interns will have the opportunity to participate in optional social events including on-sites coffee conversations and intern brunches, as well as off-site dinners and recreational events.

Summer Holidays
Student Interns are not eligible for holiday pay on the following days VAI officially closes for business for the summer:

  • Memorial Day – Monday, May 24, 2024
  • Juneteenth – Wednesday, June 19, 2024
  • Independence Day – Thursday, July 4, 2024
  • Labor Day – Monday, September 2, 2024

Housing
Local area colleges/universities may have student housing available. Students are responsible for their own travel, housing, room and board.

Grand Valley State University (GVSU): https://www.gvsu.edu/internhousing/ 

Aquinas College: https://www.aquinas.edu/student-life/residence-life/

  • Find out more about our summer housing offerings and application process at https://sites.google.com/aquinas.edu/aq-summer-housing. Please note: It requires a google account to access the website.
  • Mike Ingram | Assistant Director
  • Email Address: [email protected]
  • Telephone Number: 616.632.2945
  • Schedule a Meeting: 30 Minute Meeting
  • Contact Mike Ingram regarding 2023 housing dates for Aquinas College

Calvin University: https://calvin.edu/offices-services/event-services/summer-intern-housing

Parking and Bike Racks
Student Interns will be offered FREE parking in the Michigan Street Development ramp during their internship. During the orientation process, Physical Security will provide Student Interns with a parking permit for their vehicle. The parking structure is located on Michigan Street, directly north of VAI. Parking in this ramp is contingent upon availability. Additionally, there are bike racks available for your use outside of the main entrance.

Van Andel Institute Graduate School (two positions)

  • Salary  |  $16.00 per hour
  • Reimbursement for on-demand transportation to and from home airport
  • Reimbursement for on-demand transportation to and from Gerald R. Ford International Airport (Grand Rapids)
  • Ground transportation (bus passes for student interns without vehicles)
  • Free covered parking for students with vehicles

Completed applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until both positions are filled for the summer. Completed applications will be reviewed by the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee, as well as the VAI faculty and core directors/managers. 

Any inquiries regarding applications should be made via email to [email protected]; inquiries will receive responses as information becomes available.

All offers for the Medical Student Research Internship Program positions will be contingent upon the satisfactory results of a Background Investigation and Drug Screen. 

Required Documents: An attachment (electronic PDF file format) is required to support your online application:

A cover letter and resume will need to be combined as a single electronic PDF file and then uploaded as an attachment with your online application:

  • A cover letter indicating why you would like to participate in this internship and your career goals
  • A resume, which includes your education, research experience, skills, volunteer experience, and publications (if any)

Incomplete application packets will not be considered.

Before you Apply: Review VAI faculty/lab profile and core technologies and services websites before answering the pre-employment questions on the online application:

You will be required to answer 10 pre-employment questions relating to eligibility, availability and research interest. Please review faculty/lab profiles and core profiles before completing pre-employment questions #9 and #10 on the online application.

  • Click HERE for laboratories/faculty profiles
    You will be required to list five labs of interest
  • Click HERE for core technologies and services
    You will be required to list two cores of interest

Additional Application Materials Required

  • Two (2) current letters of recommendation from college/university professors, research mentors, and/or supervisors. The deadline for letters of recommendation for medical student applicants is March 4, 2024. Recommenders are to submit letters of recommendation to [email protected]. Letters of recommendation are to be on institute letterhead in the electronic PDF file format. Applicants are responsible for contacting professors, research mentors and/or supervisors to request letters of recommendation to be submitted to the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee. We recommend applicants provide a copy of this internship job description to recommenders. Applicants are NOT to submit their own letters of recommendation to the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee.
  • Letter of good standing from current institution (Academic Dean’s Office, Academic Student Affairs or Academic Affairs) should be emailed to [email protected] and addressed to the attention of the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee.
  • Online Application: Complete online application by using the “Apply Manually” option. DO NOT utilize the “Apply with Resume” or “Use My Last Application” options when filling out the online application.
  • Upload required single electronic PDF file that includes your cover letter and resume.
  • Online Application: Applications for the 2024 Summer Internship Program-MEDICAL will be accepted starting December 1, 2023. Visit https://www.vai.org/careers/ to access the online application.

Questions about applying for the summer internship program?

If you have questions about the summer internship program or the application process, please email the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee at [email protected].