URBEST Internship Myths?
News Article by Tracey Baas, URBEST Executive Director
This month, I was fortunate to be invited to an External Advisory Committee (EAC) Meeting for a T32 Training Grant. It was a great learning experience because I got to listen to and chat with people (University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Nevada-Reno, and University of Rochester) who have been successful in receiving funding for their T32 Training Grants. Another added benefit for me was that the EAC got to chat with past and present T32 trainees and heard three“myths” that were being shared about URBEST Internships. I’d like to address those three here so that people can make more confident choices about participating or not participating in an internship experience.
Myth 1: Advisors must cover the trainee’s stipend while they are participating in an internship.
URBEST covers the trainee’s stipend while they are doing an internship. There are three exceptions.
1. If the trainee is doing a part-time internship, the hours-per-week must be at least 8 hours a week. If the experience is less than 8 hours a week, time away from lab is so small that it is not reasonable to process payroll paperwork.
2. If the trainee is on a T32 Training Grant or F31/F32 Fellowship, URBEST works with the NIH program officer to gain approval for the trainee to take part in an internship while still collecting their standard stipend. The NIH program officer wants to see that the internship is aligned with the trainee’s UR research and training. We have had success with receiving approval from four-out-of-four program officers.
3. Although not common, URBEST has had an instance where the advisor absolutely did not want URBEST money to cover their trainee’s stipend. The advisor felt that the internship was an important part of the trainee’s experience. That advisor believed it was their responsibility to support that training for their postdoc! No, I will not tell you who the advisor is. You will have to uncover that nugget for yourself.
Myth 2: Housing costs are covered by the trainee.
For unpaid internships, URBEST covers all housing costs. We have had great success with trainees staying in dorms around university or college campuses, extended-stay hotels and Airbnb. We ask that trainees show three examples of housing costs in their internship city, and leave it up to the trainee to select their favorite.
For paid internships, a more complicated calculation is used to determine how housing is covered. The reason URBEST does this is that we wanted to be sure that the trainee was participating in an internship for the experience rather than for an elevated salary. The calculation is complicated enough that I provide this figure here:
Myth 3: The trainee has to cover housing costs up front.
This is somewhat true. Housing is typically supplied to trainees that are undertaking a three-month internship. Before the trainee leaves to start their internship, three employee expense reports are filled out, one for each month. When the trainee pays for their first month rent, they send me their rent receipt and the first employee expense report is sent to University of Rochester’s accounts payable. Accounts payable processes the form and the reimbursement is deposited electronically into the trainee's bank account if they have direct deposit. This process happens two more times for each successive month.
So the bottom line is that the trainee has to cover “one month” of housing up front, but their reimbursement typically happens in two to three weeks, depending on the speed of accounts payable.
Please Ask Me About Any Possible Hurdles
If there are other hurdles that you’ve heard about that make you hesitant to take on an internship, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com and I can see what I can do to more clearly explain the process!
Tracey Baas |