Fostering the Next Generation of Statisticians through Collaborative Internships

A well-structured internship program offers an opportunity to gain real-world experience and develop collaborations with cross-functional teams in real-world settings.  In a recent session of the 2016 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) in Chicago, Illinois, sponsored by the Committee on Statistical Partnerships among Academe, Industry, and Government (SPAIG), the ASA showcased a few projects derived from statistical internships across sectors.

The four session presenters, who included representatives from industry, research, academic and government institutions, discussed some of the resources available for identifying internship opportunities, and offered valuable thoughts on how young statisticians, especially current graduate students and even undergraduate students, can reap the benefits of internships via collaborations across sectors.

When working as part of a team, strong technical and problem solving skills are essential, but effective communication is also a key factor for success. In addition to data set cleaning, assembly, and management and analysis, this also involves working with colleagues to understand scientific questions, define research objectives, set up research plans, and communicate results in a clear and accessible way.  

The ASA has published lists of internship opportunities at no charge for more than 12 years. Internships are posted on the ASA website and published in the December print issue of Amstat News and on the website STATtrak.  Additional internship opportunities are available through the NIH and the FDA, and can sometimes be found through universities, businesses, and local government.  

In addition to providing valuable opportunities for publishing and networking, the panel emphasized the fact that internships are an important point of entry for students to gain “hands-on experience, and as such an essential stepping stone towards a fulfilling career.