Diversity Must Begin with a Pipeline of People You Haven’t Found Yet

Feb 25, 2020

Guest Blog by Lila Neel, Program Manager, Project Onramp

Diversity has been a hot topic in the life sciences industry for the past decade and, more recently, conversations have moved to focus on racial and socioeconomic diversity. How do we encourage people from a variety of backgrounds to enter our industry? How do we make sure nontraditional candidates—in many cases our immediate neighbors here in Cambridge and Greater Boston—know about opportunities that exist for them and are given a clear and fair pathway to apply?

Meet Project Onramp, a paid summer internship program focused on giving talented four-year college students from under-resourced backgrounds their “onramp” to industry. Companies commit or create internship positions and, working with our student support partner Bottom Line, we provide candidates who have the required coursework and unmatched energy for the opportunity. Project Onramp partner companies can use existing interview and hiring processes and manage an Onramp intern the way they would any other. The Onramp team provides additional support and professional development for students, to ensure they make the most of their summer.

In 2019, 52 students were placed at 30 different life sciences companies, serving as interns in the labs but also finance, BD, marketing, HR, and operations teams. Supervisors reported overwhelmingly positive experiences and students documented meaningful work. Some Onramp interns stayed on with their employers beyond the summer internship.

Based on the inaugural year’s success, we are expanding the program for summer 2020. This year, we will match 75 interns at companies in Cambridge, Boston, and Worcester. Can you commit to hiring a Project Onramp intern this year?

As has been widely researched and reported, building a more robust workforce pipeline is no longer simply an HR goal—it is imperative to ensure the industry continues to grow.  Companies understand that we need to be more intentional about the paths into our industry and how we find candidates to hire. Project Onramp is one easy way to engage with a new group of students and get them excited about an industry at the forefront of innovation. We know you will benefit from their talent!

To learn more, visit www.projectonrampma.com or contact lila@lifesciencecares.org.

About the Author:

Lila Neel

Lila Neel
Program Manager, Project Onramp

Lila Neel runs Project Onramp, a summer internship program created by Life Science Cares, MassBio, MassBioEd and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. She has extensive experience in non-profit program development, and has managed many aspects of community and stakeholder relations, as well as initiatives with corporate partners. A graduate of Princeton University, and active in interviewing applicants for admission, Lila is passionate about creating opportunity for young people.

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