CCSF-UCSF: A Collaborative Approach to Work-Based Learning


Addressing the Needs of Community College Biotechnology Students and Their Research University Mentors

Although technical training at community colleges can prepare students for work in the biotechnology industry, industry and academic employers are sometimes hesitant to hire students with less than bachelor-level degrees.

Successful internship programs that integrate work-based learning and undergraduate research experiences can increase the competitiveness of community college-trained students for these positions. The City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is collaborating with the Office of Career Planning and Development at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to address this problem. This collaboration aims to align the Biotechnology Internship program at CCSF with the PhD-level Mentor Training program at UCSF.

The CCSF students will work on research projects under the supervision of UCSF mentors, while both are being trained on how to build effective mentor/intern relationships. In this way, the project will support productive relationships between UCSF mentors and their CCSF interns. This collaborative mentor/intern model is expected to help the interns develop technical and employability skills, and help mentors enhance their ability to train and supervise a diverse workforce.

Grant Goals

CCSF is training community college students to enter the bioscience workforce by building career skills, networking tools and work-based learning. UCSF is training graduate students and postdocs to develop mentoring and supervision skills to train students of all backgrounds.

The first goal of this study is to inform CCSF and UCSF programs. The findings of this study will allow us to develop interventions that will 1) improve the integration of non-traditional students at UCSF, and 2) support graduate/postdoctoral scholars to gain the professional development they need to successfully manage diverse research teams in their future careers.

The second goal of this study is to enrich the knowledge of the fields of mentorship and science education, as it relates to the career and professional development of under-represented trainees from non-traditional backgrounds in the science field, and the barriers they and their mentors face

The project includes a research component that can contribute new knowledge about, and understanding of, practices that increase the success of mentored research experiences. Furthermore, enhanced curricula, interventions, and tools identified by this project can be used more broadly to develop and enhance professional development for internship programs, graduate and postdoctoral training of mentors, faculty training, and industry professional training, with a focus on improved retention of diverse student populations.

Bioscience Workforce Development at City College of San Francisco

CCSF’s Biotechnology Program offers credit courses and certificate programs and includes CCSF’s Bridge to Biosciences program, an award-winning, nationally recognized model. Developed through NSF funding, the Bridge to Biosciences Program has been helping students, often with no prior science training, start careers as lab assistants and biotechnicians for more than a decade. Currently, 41% of its students come from racial and ethnic groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields (African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Alaska Natives).

The program was first started in 2014 to help support economically-disadvantaged communities take advantage of training for work opportunities in the emerging biotechnology sector. The main focus was on preparing students for college-level coursework, contextualizing needed basic skill instruction to reinforce the understanding of essential scientific concepts, and convincing often underprepared students that the extra effort in math and language skill development would pay off, not only in the classroom but also in the workplace.

Seeing the potential of improving the program with more work-based learning, CCSF expanded the program into a two-semester certificate, with a semester-long internship component and two additional support classes: a lab-based class to prepare students for their internship placement in a research lab; and an internship support class taken during the internship with emphasis on helping the student navigate the bioscience workplace.

Read our Essay: The supervisory role of life science research faculty: the missing link to diversifying the academic workforce?

Upcoming Events


Career and Professional Development Writing Retreat

Date: June 12, 2024
Time: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

OCPD Summer Celebration

Date: June 12, 2024
Time: 3 - 6 p.m.