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May 2, 2017

ILSE’s ‘secret sauce’ of support lands student life sciences jobThe Introductory Life Science Experience (ILSE) program was launched in October 2015 and has enrolled over 40 participants. It provides a re-entry pathway into a Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) careers in life sciences for young adults ages 18–24 who are not currently in school, and who have substantial barriers to employment, education and career pathway planning. Through one-on-one support, college coursework, work readiness training and a paid internship participants receive focused assistance in taking the next steps on their career paths to higher education and/or employment. This “secret sauce” of Miramar College coursework, CONNECT2Careers work-readiness training, San Diego Workforce Partnership WIOA funding and paid internships brokered by the Biocom Institute is a shining example of the impact collaboration can have on better serving youth.

When Jose Ceja joined ILSE he was 23 years old and had never held a job he saw going anywhere. He wanted to work in science and he wanted to help people—he just needed the right opportunity. “When I was in college, I applied for jobs and internships, but I never got accepted,” Jose says. “It might have been my grades, it might have been [that] my work experience [was] in a completely unrelated area.”

Through ILSE, Jose completed an intensive combination of classroom work, service learning and work readiness preparation in February 2017. As part of the work readiness program, the Biocom Institute arranged for companies planning to host ILSE interns to do mock interviews with students in a no-pressure environment at their offices in La Jolla. Inova Diagnostics was one of the first companies to sign up to participate and one of the companies Jose was able to speak to. Inova Diagnostics collaborates with clinical researchers to develop biomarkers that help advance the care of autoimmune disease patients and help labs improve the way patients are diagnosed, monitored and treated through the detection of autoantibodies. 

As a result of his interview, Jose was invited to apply for an entry level chemist position. He landed the job and began work on March 14, just a few weeks after exiting the program. “This program has given me a means to not only help my family, but also my community,” says Jose.

For more information on ILSE, contact

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