Discovering the Ideal Career Path After an Internship

MSU Technologies Internship
Commercialization intern for MSU Technologies, Shannon Donnelly

In collaboration with MSU’s faculty and researchers, MSU Technologies’ role as the technology transfer arm of Michigan State University is to license and advance inventions and copyrightable materials originating from the university.

Developed in 2010 to help students develop valuable skills in university tech transfer, the MSU Technologies Internship program provides students with practical experience in technology commercialization, intellectual property management, and innovation.

After completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Appalachian State University, MSU Technologies Commercialization Intern Shannon Donnelly knew she didn’t want to pursue a career in academia or laboratory research, nor did she want to be head of the lab. Instead, she realized she wanted to further her education and enrolled in a plant biochemistry doctoral program to obtain her Ph.D. “I applied to MSUT this past spring semester because I had experience in technology transfer, and I knew I liked it,” Donnelly explained. “I wanted to get core experience that will help me forever in this career.”

At MSU Technologies, Donnelly was responsible for conducting interviews with inventors and writing research reports. Upon receiving an innovation disclosure from the faculty, the team would assess the innovation and determine its potential for a patent and its suitability for a start-up.

Donnelly expressed that the most rewarding thing about working for MSUT is continuous learning of new scientific knowledge and staying updated on the latest scientific research taking place on Michigan State’s campus. Being the first to explore innovations around campus expanded Donnelly’s experience in the field and allowed her to develop professional writing and practical communication skills.

“During this internship, you really become a good scientist because you will look at science from a different perspective, you’re constantly learning, and your breadth of knowledge expands,” Donnelly explained. “Along with learning new science, you gain professional writing and communication skills due to writing precise reports and initiating conversations during interviews with inventors.”

According to Dr. Tom Herlache, Assistant Director for Commercialization at MSU Technologies, this internship program empowers students to venture beyond their comfort zones to engage in hands-on work like scientists and researchers.

“Screening projects are really important in the MSUT office. Along with managing our patent budget, making good patent investments, and marketing our technologies, that’s what we’re really about,” said Dr. Herlache. This internship gives interns the chance to think about research from a businesslike perspective.”

Dr. Herlache believes every one of his interns in these positions can impact real change and be part of MSU Technologies’ core function. Each intern contributes significantly to developing the ideas brought to the table at MSUT. “Our interns assist in pulling together reports that help us make these critical decisions,” said Dr. Herlache. “This internship is very hands-on; they are never just getting coffee for their bosses; they are always doing real work.”

Taking advantage of internship opportunities around campus is the first step to exploring potential career paths. Working alongside tech managers on MSUT’s commercialization projects helped Donnelly understand the different routes she can take toward her career and gain valuable insights into her professional aspirations.

“Everyone at MSUT wants you to succeed and are helping every intern in many ways,” stated Donnelly. “I would suggest that future interns allow themselves to learn beyond their specific field while also being open to learning new things to discover their areas of interest.”

Click this link here to inquire further and access additional information about the Michigan State University Technologies Internship Program.


About the MSU Innovation Center: 

The MSU Innovation Center is dedicated to fostering innovation, research commercialization, and entrepreneurial activities from the research and discovery happening across our campus every day. We act as the primary interface for researchers aiming to see their research applied to solving real-world problems and making the world a better place to live. We aim to empower faculty, researchers, and students within our community of scholars by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to bring their discoveries to the forefront. Through strategic collaborations with the private sector, we aim to amplify the impact of faculty research and drive economic growth while positively impacting society. We foster mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with the private sector through corporate-sponsored research collaborations, technology licensing discussions, and support for faculty entrepreneurs to support the establishment of startup companies.   

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