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CRO Internship Leads to Employment for STLCC Biotechnology Graduate

February 06, 2012

Mollie Klein  
STLCC graduate Mollie Klein now is a technical associate for Pfizer.

With a bachelor’s degree in biology and no job prospects near her home in Florida or where she attended college in North Carolina, Mollie Klein knew she needed to go in a new direction.

Following a convincing conversation with her boyfriend’s brother, Klein decided her best career options were available in St. Louis – specifically through the biotechnology program at St. Louis Community College. Following a conversation with Eilene Lyons, the program coordinator and acting dean of the Math, Science, Engineering and Technology division at the college’s Florissant Valley campus, Klein knew her future would involve a professional laboratory setting.

“After talking to Eilene, I just felt as if I needed to get into this field, and STLCC was where I should begin,” said Klein, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Western Carolina University in 2004. “She convinced me I could complete a certificate in biotechnology rather quickly. This was something I had always wanted to do, but didn’t know if I could because I had been away from school for a while. There was only one way to find out, and I think I did better in college the second time than I did in the first.”

Klein served as president of the Biotechnology Club, and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

“I was so involved in things, and I think that made a real difference for me,” said Klein, who resides in Bellefontaine Neighbors.

After just a few courses, Klein knew she had the hands-on experience to land a job in the field. However, to ensure she was fully prepared, Klein inquired about internship opportunities and landed one through the college’s Contract Research Organization in the new Bio-Research and Development Growth (BRDG) Park facility on the campus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Through the CRO, companies can contract work that students perform, thereby giving the students real-world-hands-on training.

“The internship was not required to complete the certificate, but I wanted to participate to get the most out of my educational experience,” Klein said. “The BRDG Park facility is the cleanest, most up-to-date lab I’ve ever seen. I had to convince myself every day that I could do this kind of work and would make a great lab assistant for any company. The instructors are very thorough in teaching methods needed to succeed in a professional lab environment.”

While interning, Klein, who will earned her certificate of specialization in biotechnology in May, was offered a position as technical associate with Pfizer and started work in late January.

“After talking with the Pfizer representative, he asked if I’d leave my internship for a real job,” Klein said. “Of course I said yes. Participating in that internship has had a great impact on me, and after working with the CRO and completing the certificate, I have the confidence and skills to be that great lab assistant.”

Individuals who are interested in learning more about careers in biotechnology are invited to attend a special information session hosted by St. Louis Community College. The session is slated 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, in the laboratory facilities at BRDG Park, 1001 N. Warson Road. Prospective students will:

  • Learn about academic requirements and career options.
  • Participate in interactive sessions.
  • Find out how to get started at STLCC.

Registration for the information session is requested; call 314-539-5002 or visit www.stlcc.edu/CareerInfoSessions to reserve your place. For more information, call 314-539-5002 or e-mail AskUs@stlcc.edu. Individuals with disabilities who have accommodation needs should call 314-539-5002.