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Co-Op Program

Building a diverse next generation of leaders in the life sciences industry

The School of Biological Sciences Cooperative Education (Co-Op) Program is a paid immersive work experience up to one year for students in an industrial setting. Co-Op students gain critical and competitive skills and knowledge to build a successful career through mentorship from industry professionals, professional development training from faculty and staff, peer-to-peer interaction and support through the Co-Op cohort, and work experience. The program is open to undergraduate students of all majors.

If you are a student or company interested in joining the School of Biological Sciences Co-Op Program, please review the information under the respective tab below, then contact us (

Thank you to our current Co-Op corporate partners!

Logo for Catalent
Logo for Thermo Fisher
Logo for Bristol Myers Squibb
Logo for Excellos
Logo for MP Biomedicals



  • Students must be enrolled at UC San Diego while in the Co-Op Program. This means students cannot apply to the Co-Op Program during their senior year, as Co-Op positions start in summer and senior students will graduate before Co-Op position start dates.
  • The Co-Op Program is open to undergraduate students of all majors. However, students must read the job description to confirm eligibility, as companies seek specific majors and class standings for each position.
  • Students can participate in the Co-Op Program multiple times with the same or different companies.
    • At the end of each term, and until the student graduates, the company can offer the student the opportunity to continue the Co-Op position.
    • The company can offer the student full-time employment upon graduation.
  • Students must have reliable transportation to get to work. Look up the company's address and determine how long it will take to get to work. Students need to factor in traffic, class schedule and any other commitments.
  • UC San Diego requires all Co-Op students to have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Some Co-Op companies require >2.5 GPA; in this case, students need to meet the company's GPA requirement.

How and When to Apply and Enroll

Where and When to Find Open Co-Op Positions

  • This webpage
  • On Handshake search "Co-Op" or search any Co-Op partner company listed above
  • Undergraduate Biological Sciences weekly student newsletter ( subscribe here)
  • Communications sent by various campus partners, including BUMMP, PATHS, CASP and Physical Sciences
  • Recruitment is year-round and peak recruitment is October-March

How to Apply:

  • Follow the guidelines on the application regarding what to include, such as attaching your resume and cover letter
  • It is recommended that prospective students email for resources on how to write a competitive resume and cover letter
  • It is also recommended that prospective Co-Op students schedule an appointment through Handshake to meet with a career coach for feedback on their resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile before applying to Co-Op positions
  • It is recommended that prospective students enroll in one or all of the professional development courses below prior to applying to and/or during enrollment in the Co-Op Program. Undergraduates of all majors and class standings are eligible to enroll in these courses.
    • BILD 92 Professional Development Topics in Biology
    • BILD 80 Job Applications
    • BILD 81 Interview Skills
    • BILD 83 Business Communications in Biology

How to Enroll:

  • After you sign an offer letter with a Co-Op company, email with the following information:
    • Attach your signed offer letter
    • Company name and your position title
    • Your major and current year in school
    • Attach your resume and cover letter that you submitted to the company
    • Your approximate start date and end date with the company
    • The mode of reliable transportation you will take to get to work
  • You will receive a response with next steps that will include boot camp dates or information on enrolling in BILD 82

Program Outline

  • All Co-Op positions are paid.
  • Co-Op students are required to take either a Co-Op professional boot camp offered by UC San Diego faculty and staff, or BILD 82 Professional Development, in spring prior to starting their Co-Op position in summer.
  • The company and student determine the student's summer start date and approximate end date.
  • Positions are up to one year. The company determines the length of the position and states it in the job description.
  • Students will work approximately 40 hours per week during the summer and approximately 12-15 hours per week during the academic year.
  • In Fall through Spring, Co-Op students will meet three times per quarter as a cohort with Co-Op faculty and staff advisors to give presentations on what they are learning and discuss their Co-Op experience with their peers.
  • Co-Op students are required to submit a weekly written reflection on their Co-Op experience to Co-Op faculty and staff advisors.
  • In Spring, each Co-Op student will give a presentation on their Co-Op experience to the incoming cohort.
  • Students will have a mentor at the company they work at and are required to conduct an informational interview at least once each quarter with someone who works at the company.
  • Students must have consistent and reliable transportation to get to and from work, and must arrive at work early or on time for every shift.
  • Co-Op students will be balancing academic, extracurricular and Co-Op commitments. It is strongly recommended that Co-Op students do not work or volunteer at another company while working in their Co-Op position.

Learning Outcomes

Co-Op students will gain:

  • The opportunity to supplement your education with work experience in an industrial setting
  • Mentorship from a colleague or supervisor at your Co-Op company
  • Professional development support from UC San Diego Co-Op faculty and staff advisors
  • Soft skills training from the required Co-Op boot camp or BILD 82
  • The opportunity to expand your professional network

Upon completion of the Co-Op Program, students should be able to:

  • Apply their coursework to solve real-world problems
  • Identify their areas of strength and growth opportunities in an industrial setting
  • Work effectively as a member of a team in an industrial setting
  • Track their professional growth
  • Identify solutions to problems that arise in their work experience and demonstrate the capacity to solve these problems both independently and collaboratively
  • Demonstrate effective written and verbal communication when discussing scientific problems and solutions at work
  • Exhibit professional and ethical behavior at all times while working
  • Reflect on their commitment to a career in life sciences through networking, mentorship and self-evaluation
  • Demonstrate how they plan to continue their professional development for career success
  • Understand what it takes to be a competitive candidate in their field of interest
  • Demonstrate strong soft skills, including leadership, collaboration, communication, self-awareness, and giving and receiving feedback
  • Develop and maintain professional relationships, including with a mentor, for support and guidance with their professional endeavors, and for potential professional references on job and internship applications

Program Requirements and Protocols

  • You must have consistent and reliable transportation.
  • Arrive at work early or on time for every shift.
  • Follow company protocols and guidelines, including dress code, codes of conduct and ethics, and privacy laws. Your Co-Op position is a real, paid job and you will sign a contract with the company. If at any point you are not in compliance with the company's expectations or guidelines, your supervisor can terminate you. Termination means you are no longer enrolled in the Co-Op Program and no longer work at the company.
  • Present yourself professionally and ethically at all times.
  • Notify your supervisor in advance if you will be late or absent.
  • Provide your supervisor with your availability at least one week in advance prior to the start of each quarter.
  • Notify your supervisor immediately with changes to your schedule, such as class time updates.
  • You must be available to work at the company full-time (40 hours per week, 8 hours per day M-F) during summer and part-time (roughly 12-15 hours per week) during the academic year.
  • Notify and your supervisor with any updates, challenges, or changes regarding your work experience, e.g., if you are unable to work due to circumstances such as illness or a death in the family. They will determine whether or not you can remain in the Co-Op Program if you are unable to work for an extended period of time.

Corporate Partners

Why Become a Co-Op Corporate Partner?

  • Company brand elevation across UC San Diego, including featuring the company logo on our Co-Op website, a weekly Biological Sciences newsletter that is distributed to more than 5,000 undergraduate students.
  • The opportunity to increase conversion rate of interns to full-time employees, as Co-Op corporate partners can extend full-time offers to Co-Op students after graduation.
  • Diverse, world-class talent pipeline development through the Co-Op Program, which includes extensive professional development training by UC San Diego faculty and staff. BioCAP partners gain access to competitively trained, highly diverse students who are passionate about building their careers and applying the knowledge and skills they've developed through their education at one of the world's consistently top-ranked universities.
  • Targeted marketing of Co-Op positions. The School of Biological Sciences Co-Op team works with BioCAP partners' talent acquisition teams to build a recruitment plan and promote positions to targeted, diverse student populations, such as (see "Recruitment Process" for specified reach and impact).
  • Access to competitively trained, highly diverse talent that is passionate about building their careers and applying the knowledge and skills they've developed through their education at one of the world's consistently top-ranked universities. Some of UC San Diego's recent rankings and diversity statistics include:
    • 6th, 2022 Best Global Universities, U.S. News and World Report
    • 21st, best universities in the world, U.S. News and World Report
    • 3rd, America's Top Colleges, Forbes
    • 4th, top 10 public colleges in the West, Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings
    • 8th, Best Colleges, U.S. News & World Report, based on measures including retention and graduation rates, social mobility, faculty resources and academic reputation. The guidebook also named UC San Diego 13th among the best colleges for veterans.
    • 9th, best public university in the nation for LGBTQ+ students, Campus Pride, BestColleges, based on the university providing a quality academic experience and a safe and inclusive space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) students.
    • $1.54 Billion: UC San Diego received $1.54 billion in sponsored research funding for FY2021 (July 1-June 30). This marks the 12th consecutive year the campus has earned more than $1 billion in funding to support its extensive research enterprise.
    • 13th, best research university in the nation, Centre for Science and Technology Studies of Leiden University
    • 51 faculty members at UC San Diego are among the world's most influential researchers—those whose studies were among the top one percent most-cited publications in their fields based on their publications over the past decade—according to Clarivate Analytics' 2021 Highly Cited Researchers report.
    • Top 10%: UC San Diego was named a Social Mobility Innovator by CollegeNET, Inc. for successfully enrolling students from low-income backgrounds, graduating them into promising careers and fostering a campus culture based on inclusive excellence. UC San Diego has ranked among the top 10 percent of schools on the index for the past four years.
    • View more rankings here and a comprehensive undergraduate diversity profile here.

How to Become a Corporate Partner

  • Review the information on this page and contact to schedule a remote introductory meeting.
  • Once the company confirms interest in becoming a Co-Op corporate partner, our team will provide you with an invoice for your annual $25,000 Co-Op membership and a gift agreement that outlines the commitment and benefits of the Co-Op partnership.
  • Our team will immediately provide exceptional customized support in identifying positions, confirming your hiring needs, developing an optimal marketing plan for your open Co-Op positions, and promoting these positions to meet your hiring needs.

Recruitment Process

  • Companies recruit year-round, though it is recommended that companies recruit October-March, as this is peak recruitment season for students. There are no hiring deadlines.
  • Students begin working at their Co-Op company the summer after they are hired or during the summer they are hired.
  • Companies are responsible for conducting the hiring process, including screening, interviewing, and selecting candidates, and providing the candidate with the offer letter.
  • The number of students a company hires is determined by the company.
  • Companies are required to post open positions on Handshake and title positions on Handshake as follows: "Co-Op Program: [Insert position title] [insert length of commitment]"; e.g., "Co-Op Program: Research Assistant (one-year commitment)"
  • Email Co-Op position Handshake links to Our team will promote the positions to your targeted student population, as well as the following channels and campus diversity groups and programs, as applicable:
  • Notify each time an offer letter has been signed. Our team will reach out to the student with next steps to confirm their enrollment in the Co-Op Program.
  • The Co-Op Program staff advisor will reach out to corporate partners each week they are actively recruiting to confirm open positions, and will continue to promote these positions.
  • The Co-Op Program staff advisor will reach out to corporate partners on a quarterly basis for a progress update on each student.
  • Should any issues arise with your Co-Op students, please contact

Meaningful Work and Mentorship Commitment

  • Companies are required to provide the Co-Op student with a mentor who will support the student during the student's time at the company. The student will work with their company supervisor to determine who their mentor will be.
  • Mentorship includes a weekly, every other week, or monthly discussion between the student and mentor that supports the student's professional development and career success. Students are required to attend these meetings prepared with questions for their mentor, and are required to report to their Co-Op cohort and faculty and staff advisors on what they are learning throughout their mentorship.
  • The company is required to provide the student with meaningful work that gives them the opportunity to develop competitive professional skills and to understand how their work impacts the company's mission.

Contact and Meet the Team

  • Melissa Hoon
    Melissa Hoon
    Director, Corporate Relations and Professional Development
    Staff Advisor, Co-Op Program

    Melissa supports the School of Biological Science's Co-Op Program and Corporate Affiliates Program (BioCAP) by engaging students, alumni, and industry partners in an effort to prepare students for successful careers and to build a diverse talent pipeline in the life sciences and healthcare industries. She also teaches career exploratory and communications courses that focus on soft skills to support students' professional development and career success.

  • Dr. Joseph Pogliano
    Dr. Joseph Pogliano
    Professor, Molecular Biology
    Faculty Advisor, Co-Op Program

    Joe Pogliano is a Professor of Molecular Biology and cofounder of Linnaeus Bioscience, Inc. He received B.S. degrees in Chemistry and Honors Biology from the University of Illinois, Champaign. He earned his PhD from Harvard Medical School where he studied cell division, outer membrane stress responses, antibiotic mechanism of action and protein secretion. As a postdoc at UC San Diego, he studied cytoskeletal proteins involved in plasmid DNA segregation. He joined the UC San Diego faculty in 2003 where his research has focused on using cell biological tools to study bacterial cell growth, DNA replication, cell division, outer membrane biogenesis, and the mechanisms by which antibiotics target these essential cellular processes. His lab recently discovered the "phage nucleus," a compartment formed by many bacteriophages that replicate in Pseudomonas. Joe and Kit Pogliano developed Bacterial Cytological Profiling (BCP) technology that provides a rapid method for screening for antibiotics against multidrug resistant bacteria and understanding their mechanisms of action.

  • Christopher Sickels
    Christopher Sickels
    Senior Director, Development

    Chris serves as the lead philanthropic gift officer for Biological Sciences, providing leadership, management, and overall program strategy in planning, coordinating, and implementing fundraising activities for the Dean, Faculty Members, volunteers, and other key collaborative partners for the School of Biological Sciences. His mission is to build a comprehensive development program that will engage local, regional, national, and international donors and alumni to actively participate in personalized partnerships that will further the mission and strategic goals of the Biological Sciences to best serve our students and maximize our broad impact in society.

  • Martha Leon
    Martha Leon
    Director, Development

    Martha serves as a philanthropic gift officer for the School of Biological Sciences, working closely to develop strong relationships with the campus community and the greater San Diego Area. Martha has a passion for educational fundraising and utilizing exciting strategies to engage and align our supporters' interests to the mission of the School of Biological Sciences.

  • Sarah Turner
    Sarah R. Turner
    Associate Director, Development
    Sarah's goal is to cultivate and sustain meaningful connections with Biological Sciences' valued alumni both locally and regionally through programming, in-person visits, events, and activities. Her mission is to bring value to alumni by providing opportunities for them to re-connect to UC San Diego and the School of Biological Sciences.
  • Kaitlyn Heiskell
    Kaitlyn Heiskell
    Coordinator, Development
    As the development coordinator for the School of Biological Sciences, Kaitlyn works with the philanthropic gift officers to implement cultivation, fundraising, and donor relations programs, events, and activities that support the mission and goals of Biological Sciences.
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