Spring has sprung—and we all know what that means: Tulips! Daffodils! Résumés! That’s right. If you haven’t already started, NOW is the time to get your application process underway if you’re planning to staff your university tech transfer office (TTO) with interns.
Recent industry news has included a variety of articles highlighting university TTOs that use interns. As discussed in our white paper about best practices for tech transfer internship programs and in a previous post, summer is the best time to have interns start. This allows them to work a full 30- to 40-hour week with few (if any) other commitments and helps them climb the learning curve more quickly.
As a result, you should be looking for intern candidates now, before they are snatched up by other companies looking to cut costs. If you haven’t done it yet, send out your call for applications now—or as soon as possible—so you can make your final selections no later than late April.
As the applications start coming in, what should you be looking for? Depending on the number of interns you plan to hire (Fuentek recommends a team of four interns if you are just getting started), try to find at least two or three with a technical background that is well aligned with your technology portfolio. Graduate business or engineering programs can be a great place to find these candidates. If you have law student applicants available, consider filling one slot on the team with a student interested in pursuing a career in intellectual property (IP) law. Library information science (LIS) students can also be a great addition, as they often provide excellent insights for market research. If LIS students are not part of the team, no worries. The other interns can leverage your LIS library resources to fill this need.
Keep in mind that the qualities that make a good technology transfer intern are typically the same as those you seek in your professional staff or consultants, though interns usually have far less experience. As mentioned above, it is important that the interns’ technical background aligns with the focus of your organization’s technology portfolio. However, if you have a broad portfolio but can hire only a few interns, consider assigning each to specific technology areas according to their education/experience. Or you may opt to hire students who have a more broad, generalized technical background. In addition to technical expertise, any amount of business experience will be very helpful. This background will aid the interns’ understanding of market research and what companies are seeking in a new technology.
During the interviews, look for a positive attitude and enthusiasm toward technology. Ideal interns not only think technology is cool but also are able to think creatively about potential applications for that technology to address problems beyond the original intended use. A few creative questions or exercises during the interview process can help you effectively evaluate these traits.
If you haven’t started yet, now it’s time to go forth and begin hiring. At the same time, you will need to start planning how you will train your interns. Having interns perform technology screenings is a great place to start—this is Fuentek’s recommendation for where to focus your interns’ efforts. We can help you jump-start your training with our webinar designed to help you put your interns to work on technology screenings.
If you’re interested in more information about establishing an internship program for your tech transfer office, check out our other Insights on using interns and contact us to discuss how Fuentek can help.