At CytoRecovery, we're proud to be a part of the STEM2VA Program, an initiative under Virginia Bio-Connect funded by the GO Virginia grant. This program, launched about two years ago, aims to retain and nurture talent in Virginia's life sciences sector by offering internships. It addresses the challenge of talent drain in our industry, where employers, including us, often struggle to find experienced personnel.
STEM2VA has been a game-changer for both students and employers. It not only provides valuable internship opportunities for students but also eases the recruitment and training process for companies like ours. In its first year, the program drew immense interest from over 800 students, showcasing the high demand for such initiatives. Notably, 97 students completed their internships, with several continuing their roles beyond the program’s term.
Our involvement in STEM2VA in the summers of 2022 and 2023 was particularly enriching. We realized that the interns, though diverse in their backgrounds, needed additional lab skills pertinent to our work at the intersection of biology, engineering, and electronics. To address this, we collaborated with Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) to develop a tailored boot camp program. This program, designed by Dr. Heather Lindberg and Dr. Kristylea Ojeda of VWCC, focused on essential lab skills and techniques, significantly enhancing our interns' capabilities. This partnership not only jump-started our interns' learning curve but also fostered strong working relationships among them.
Our experience with STEM2VA exemplifies the importance of collaborative workforce development and the positive impact such partnerships can have on the industry. We look forward to continuing our involvement in such initiatives and encourage other employers to engage in these valuable programs. More information about the STEM2VA and related initiatives can be found at Virginia Bio-Connect's website.