Stoking a passion for science | July 11, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - July 11, 2014

Stoking a passion for science

Interns seek hands-on, real-world experience beyond the classroom

by story and photos Veronica Weber

In Jill Helms' laboratory at Stanford University — past a glass case filled with skulls of mice, ducks and a two-headed pig and shelves stocked with glass beakers and rows of chemicals — a group of high school interns are gathered around a lab work space feverishly working on a set of experiments.

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Staff Photographer Veronica Weber can be emailed at


Posted by local
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 12, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Well said in the article that these summer intern programs at Stanford is only for URM kids or kids who have connections to Stanford. For a regular middle class student who is neither URM nor has connection with Stanford, this is out of their reach. No way to get a spot as an intern at Stanford even the kid is a top student at local high school. Great program for these selected group of kids, but sad for the remaining kids who also like to do it. I remember that my son finally realized that the world is not fair at all after he got denied by Stanford intern program years ago while seeing some other kids he knew got in who had much worse GPA than advise to him that the world is fair and as long as you try hard, you should get it--- failed on that day :-( However, good for him to realize early that world is not fair at all, luck and connection is. Sorry that I said that, but for middle class normal kids, do NOT try to apply for these internship. It will be a waste of your time. Find other summer activities to do.

Posted by mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm


Thank you for sharing your observation. I am glad to know I am not the only one who thinks like the way you explained.

Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2014 at 10:36 am

Internships and summer jobs of many kinds are definitely based on connections, as are "real" jobs. And as Local said, that is a good life lesson. Not only is life not always fair, but you also never know who will be a valuable connection. It pays to do your best even at simple jobs, because you never know who you will impress!

Posted by Gunn Outlier
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 13, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I may be the first person to every get a paid summer job doing research at Stanford without connections or 3.9 gpa. God bless this institution.

Posted by mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 13, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Gunn Outlier,

How did you do it?

Posted by local
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 14, 2014 at 9:52 am

Gunn Outlier,

That is an amazing story if you got an intern job at Stanford without being an URM (under representative minority), nor has connection or 3.9 GPA. Please share your process, as for how to do it, with the rest of middle class normal kids, many of them would really like to follow your step. Thanks

Posted by Words matter
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get away from the use of unnecessarily gendered words like "manpower" which is particularly inappropriate in this case? "Brainpower" would have worked just as well...

Words matter...

Posted by Gunn Outlier
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm

A surprising amount of job requests go through the work experience coordinator
for Gunn and Paly, and her mantra is that you have to take her work experience class
for her to tell you about the offers. The fact that the most desireable job postings are not
public knowledge (except the Lokheen Martin internship), gave me the advantage.
Good luck to Ya'll, and remember to write to them about your passion!
-3.5 gpa 2200 Sat Gunn Student

Posted by Uber mom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 21, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Gunn Outlier thanks for sharing. The cronyism makes me very angry.

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