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 undergrad@vai.edu.

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 Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. We strongly encourage student applicants from minority serving institutions including historically black colleges & universities, tribal colleges & universities and Hispanic serving institutions, as well as McNair Scholars.

Each year, the Institute hosts 20-25 interns in its laboratories. 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 (2 positions / 6-9 weeks) 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 Research Institute often hosts seminar speakers from other institutions, and each Friday a VARI 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 Students

The 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, by completing and submitting the individual application for guest students to Van Andel Institute Graduate School:

The individual application for guest students may be submitted as PDF files to Michelle Love/Undergraduate and Internship Program Committee at undergrad@vai.org or via mail to address:

Michelle Love, Administrative Assistant
VAI Graduate School
333 Bostwick Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2518

Undergraduate Student Research Internship Program

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

2023 Application Process

Applications for the 2023 Summer Internship Program will be accepted starting December 1, 2022. The application deadline for the undergraduate 2023 Summer Internship Program is  February 1, 2023.

Undergraduate students are required to complete their internships in one of two sessions in 2023:

  • Session I: May 8 – July 14, 2023
  • Session II: June 5 – August 11, 2023

At Van Andel Institute, the health and safety of our people is our number one priority. As a condition of employment at Van Andel Institute, all employees are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. “Full vaccination” is defined as two weeks after both doses of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine has been administered.

Van Andel Institute is an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer. We strongly encourage undergraduate student applicants from minority serving institutions including historically black colleges & universities, tribal colleges & universities and Hispanic serving institutions, as well as McNair Scholars. 

Completed applications for the 2023 summer internship program will be reviewed by Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee and Van Andel Institute faculty after February 15, 2023. 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.

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

Salary
The pay range for summer interns is based on a 10-week assignment at 40 hours per week. The pay rate is $15.00 per hour.

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

  • Memorial Day – Monday, May 29, 2023
  • Juneteenth – Monday, June 19, 2023
  • Independence Day – Tuesday, July 4, 2023
  • Labor Day – Monday, September 4, 2023

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/residence-life  

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

Parking
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.

  • Please review VAI research laboratories to identify your top five labs of interest.
  • Prepare a single PDF file including the following three (3) documents as an attachment for your online application:
    • A cover letter to introduce why you would like to participate in this summer internship and your career goals.
    • A resume that includes your education, research experience, skills, volunteer experience, and publications (if any).
    • A current official transcript (Fall 2022) from your college or university. Applicants will be responsible for uploading their college or university transcripts to their online application. Any transcripts received via email or from your institution’s transcript delivery service will not be accepted.
  • Two (2) current letters of recommendation (due by February 6, 2023): Ask professors, research mentors and/or supervisors to submit letters of recommendation, on institute letterhead, in PDF electronic format to undergrad@vai.edu. Letters of recommendation can be addressed to the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee:

Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee (98001/VAIGS)
Van Andel Institute Graduate School / Van Andel Institute
333 Bostwick Avenue NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2518

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 undergrad@vai.edu.

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, depending on the needs of the Institute’s faculty and core directors/managers. This program is competitive, based on recommendations, previous experience and a personal meeting, telephone interview or interview via Zoom. 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.

2023 Application Process

Applications will be accepted starting in December 2022. Completed applications are reviewed on a rolling basis from December 1, 2022, through March 1, 2023, until both positions are filled for the medical student research internship program.

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

Each applicant’s internship will be based on their research interests selected on the application form. 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.

At Van Andel Institute, the health and safety of our people is our number one priority. As a condition of employment at Van Andel Institute, all employees are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. “Full vaccination” is defined as two weeks after both doses of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine has been administered.

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 undergraduate student applicants from minority serving institutions including historically black colleges & universities, tribal colleges & universities and Hispanic serving institutions, as well as McNair Scholars. 

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.

Completed applications are reviewed on a rolling basis from December 1, 2022 through March 1, 2023 for internships with employment start dates between April 1, 2023 – November 1, 2023. Completed applications will be reviewed by the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee, as well as the VAI faculty and core directors/managers. 

Any inquiries regarding your application should be made via e-mail to undergrad@vai.edu; 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. 

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

Salary
The Medical Student Research Internship Program will be limited to a 40 hour work week with pay at $16/hr.

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 29, 2023
  • Juneteenth – Monday, June 19, 2023
  • Independence Day – Tuesday, July 4, 2023
  • Labor Day – Monday, September 4, 2023

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/residence-life  

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.

  • Please review VAI research laboratories to identify your top five labs of interest.
  • Prepare a single PDF file including the following two (2) documents as an attachment for your online application:
    • A cover letter to introduce why you would like to participate in this summer internship and your career goals.
    • A resume that includes your education, research experience, skills, volunteer experience, and publications (if any).
  • Request a letter of good standing from your medical school (Academic Dean’s Office, Academic Student Affairs or Academic Affairs) to be emailed to undergrad@vai.edu.
  • Two (2) current letters of recommendation: Ask professors, research mentors and/or supervisors to submit letters of recommendation, on institute letterhead, in PDF electronic format to undergrad@vai.edu.
  • Letters of good standing and letters of recommendations can be addressed to the Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee:Undergraduate & Internship Program Committee (98001/VAIGS)
    Van Andel Institute Graduate School/Van Andel Institute
    333 Bostwick Avenue NE
    Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2518

Complete VAI’s online employee application thoroughly, in addition to uploading your cover letter and resume as a single PDF file.

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 undergrad@vai.edu.