Summer High School Internship Program

The Summer High School Internship Program (SHIP) is an eight-week, full-time paid internship for rising 12th graders. Selected interns attend an orientation day, then begin the internship with one week of hands-on training on laboratory safety techniques and skills in the Fred Hutch Training Labs. The remaing seven weeks consists of supervised shadowing and training in a Fred Hutch host mentor’s research lab. Interns also attend weekly workshops and seminars and make a presentation during the final week.

SHIP gives students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research the opportunity to explore, clarify, and strengthen their research-related career interests. 

We encourage all applicants to learn more about our research areas and scientific divisions. Applicants should ensure they meet the eligibility requirements (below) and we recommend assembling application materials early, even before the application opens.

2020 SHIP Dates

Feb 1: Online application opens

Mar 31: Online application closes - All materials, including references, are due by 11:59 pm on March 31.

June 25 and June 29 to Aug 21: Summer program

Eligibility Requirements

  • High school student entering senior year or final term after the summer
  • Strong scientific interest and academic background
  • Ability to attend on-campus interview
  • Available for the entire eight-week program, June 25 and June 29 to Aug 21, 2020

Interns are responsible for securing their own housing and transportation during their internship. The program does not provide or arrange housing.

How to Apply

Before you apply, make sure you have contact information for your recommenders, your short essay response form (PDF), resume (PDF) and transcripts (PDF) ready to upload. Your most recent transcripts are acceptable, even if they do not have final grades for your most recent semester. Unofficial transcripts that have the school's header are acceptable; however, applicants should be prepared to supply official transcripts upon request.

Recommenders must submit our recommendation form in PDF format, according to instructions we will email directly to them after your application is submitted. You do not need to submit the recommendations when you submit the application, but you must include the email contact information for your recommenders. We require two recommendation forms and will not accept additional letters or emailed recommendations.

Late or incomplete applications, including those that do not receive recommendations, will not be considered.

Please read this page completely and carefully; we do our best to answer all inquiries, but due to the high volume of inquiries we will not be able to respond to questions that are already answered on this page. For additional questions about the program or application process, please contact us

SHIP staff are not able to facilitate research internships for students outside of the eight-week summer program and will not accept unsolicited or late applications.

Application Tips

The SHIP is a highly competitive program. While adhering to the following recommendations does not guarantee acceptance into the program, it does improve your chances of creating a successful application. In addition to these tips, don’t forget to proofread your application thoroughly for accuracy and completeness before submitting.

Give Yourself Adequate Time to Complete the Application


Before you begin your application, set aside additional time to learn about Fred Hutch. Browse the Hutch’s faculty page to learn more about the investigators who work at the Hutch and the types of research they conduct. This will allow you to submit a more well-informed application.

Request Informative Recommendations


Our program requires recommenders to complete and submit our recommendation form; we do not accept free-form recommendation letters. Let your recommender know about the form as soon as you ask him/her.

An informative recommendation should come from someone who can highlight the strengths you have that are relevant to the program, your quality as a student compared to other students, the accomplishments your achieved and how this program will further your academic and/or career goals.

When requesting a recommendation:

  • Choose your references wisely. Recommendations from individuals familiar with your interests, history of commitment and abilities may be viewed more favorably than one from a someone who doesn't know you as well. Additionally, a recommendation from a science teacher or similar can address your interest in and commitment to science. Your recommendations should come from teachers, school staff, or a supervisor at a volunteer or paid position. Do not ask people who haven't been in a position to evaluate your work and contributions within an academic or professional environment, such as sports coaches or family friends. 
  • Give your references at least two weeks to submit a recommendation on your behalf. We do NOT accept late application materials or recommendations. If you ask your recommender just a few days before the deadline they may not have time to submit it, and your application will be incomplete.
  • Make your request for a recommendation in writing or email, as well as in person. This helps ensure that it won't fall off their "radar."

Give your references a copy of your resume and/or the following information:

  1.  The name of the program and a brief description of what it entails (a link to the website can be helpful)
  2.  The name of the sponsoring institution
  3.  A brief description of how the program fits in with your goals
  4.  A brief description of what you will contribute to the program and how you will benefit from participating
  5.  The due date for the recommendation and how it should be submitted. You will need to provide contact information for your recommenders when you complete the Summer High School Internship Program application.

Once you submit your application, our system will automatically send your references an email message with further information, including submission instructions.

  • Consider sending your recommenders a copy of your short essay responses. This may help them give the strongest recommendation possible.
  • Send your reference a friendly reminder, preferably one week prior to the application deadline. Confirm they submitted the recommendation.
  • Finish up by sending your reference(s) a handwritten note of thanks.

Your Short Essay Responses Should be Thoughtful and Carefully Written


Start early. The short essay responses provide an opportunity to share experiences and perspectives that don't show up in a resume or transcript. It's also the primary place where you can elaborate on the other parts of your application (i.e., resume and transcript). The essays should be written with full sentences and should be composed paragraphs.

Ask a friends, teachers and advisors to review your short essay responses for content, clarity and grammar. The prompts for the short essay responses will be available when the application opens.

Create a Resume and Make Sure It's Up-To-Date


For details about what to include on a resume, Google "high school student resume example." You can also ask a teacher or school counselor to help you. Don't worry if you don't have enough experience for a long resume; the quality of your experience is much more important than the length of your resume.

Keep it simple. We recommend you use simple fonts in black. Avoid using graphics, multiple fonts, non-standard fonts and color. The content — and your experience — should be easy to see and understand.

Provide details and facts. We strongly recommend you include the dates, timespan, duration, and number of hours for work and volunteer experiences that you list. Provide clear descriptions of what your role was and what tasks you completed. For example, for a position title like Food Bank Volunteer, "volunteered at a food bank" isn't as informative as "sorted and stocked shelves for 2 hours a week, for 6 weeks." Similarly, for a position title like Summer Camp Assistant, "assisted camp counselors" isn't as informative as "assisted counselors with camper registration, craft activities and camper check-out for a 2-week summer camp." Distinguish between volunteer and paid work experiences. Both are valuable and it’s helpful for us to know which is which.

Program FAQ

What are the days of the week and hours of the internship?


We ask interns to commit up to 40 hours a week, Monday–Friday. The days typically start between 8–9 a.m. and end between 4–5 p.m., with time for lunch and breaks in between.

Are the program dates flexible?


No. Accepted interns must be available for the entire duration of the program with rare exceptions (e.g. unforeseen medical needs or family emergencies, short-duration national academic events, school-related athletic or academic competitions, etc.). Any foreseeable absences should be brought to the program director's attention at the time of an interview.

Do I need prior experience in science or medicine to be competitive for the program?


No. You just need to have interest and enthusiasm for learning about science and biomedical research and recommendations suggesting that you are a responsible, committed person.

What is a typical day like for an intern in the program?

Week 1:

During the first week, the entire intern cohort participates in safety, laboratory and other training. The laboratory training covers fundamental lab skills like using a pipet, making solutions and dilutions, sterile technique and tissue culture (non-primate), blood separation (non-primate), DNA isolation, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and gel electrophoresis. Other training during the first week includes lectures and discussions about the central dogma (DNA makes RNA makes protein) and hematopoiesis, as well as discussions with experienced students on how to maximize your internship.

Weeks 2-8 (required activities):

Interns are placed in pairs and join a host mentor/lab at the beginning of the second week of the program. The daily routine of interns varies greatly from lab to lab, based on the ongoing work. Interns arrange daily schedules and hours with their host mentor and are on campus within normal business hours (see above). The daily routine is determined by the host mentor and may include data entry, attending regular laboratory meetings, making solutions or dilutions, creating culture plates, and other tasks. Interns under 18 (most interns) are not allowed to handle hazardous materials, so may observe ongoing work in the host lab. The entire intern cohort participates in weekly interactive presentations on ethics, "meet the scientist" sessions, health disparities research, "Big Data" visualization, making a good presentation, and biostatistics. These required cohort-based activities typically take place on Friday afternoons. The internship concludes with a reflection presentation that summarizes what interns did and learned, as well as future directions for their academic and career development. The presentation is open to the Fred Hutch community, teachers and interns' families.

Weeks 2-8 (optional activities):

Optional activities may include

  • Hands-on lab activities to supplement what interns learn in the host lab, such as PCR and gel interpretation, karyotyping cells and chemistry
  • College essay-writing workshops
  • Small group, lunchtime discussions with young scientists on topics like building confidence, women in science, becoming a science major and HIV in the 21st century.

Are interns paid?


Yes, interns are provided a stipend. More details will be provided to applicants invited for an interview.

Is there a place for me at Fred Hutch if I'm interested in computer science, programming or math?


Yes. Many high school students and undergraduates are surprised to find there is a place in biology and medicine for people with strong interest or skills in computer science or math. However, interest or skills in computer science or math is absolutely NOT a requirement to be competitive for admissions to the program.

I'm not from the Seattle area. Can you help arrange housing for me?


No, we are not able to help arrange housing for internships.

When are recommendation forms due?


Recommendation forms are due by the application deadline. Once you submit your application, an email will notify your recommenders how to submit the form. They must use this form.

When can I expect to hear an answer about my application?


All applicants will be notified of their status by mid-May.

If I am not the eligible grade level this year, can I apply anyway?


We do not recommend it. We will not review your application if you do not meet the eligibility criteria. If you are not eligible for the High School Summer Internship Program, you can apply for the Pathways Explorers program.

Where do internships take place?


On the Fred Hutch campus in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.

What kind of attire will I need to wear if I am accepted to the internship program?


Workplace casual attire. Interns must be dressed for laboratory safety (sturdy, closed-toe shoes; long pants; and hair, scarves, or necklaces pulled back or otherwise secured). Jeans and t-shirts are fine.

I am a Running Start student. Does that affect my eligibility? How do I list grades from my high school and running start school (community college) on my transcript?


Interns must have completed the equivalent of 11th grade, but have not yet graduated high school. Participation in Running Start will not necessarily affect this criterion. The SHIP is designed for students who will enter their final year of high school (i.e. earn their high school diploma) in the academic year that immediately follows their participation in the summer program. For the vast majority of students, this refers to the summer between 11th and 12th grades.

If you take classes through Running Start, you likely have transcripts from both your high school and the college at which you take Running Start classes. Please submit both transcripts as a single PDF in the "transcripts" section of the application. To get the two transcripts into a single file, you can either scan them at once OR use PDF merge software, such as PDF Mergy, which is available in Google Drive.

Does the Hutch offer any other opportunities for biomedical research internships?


To learn more about other biomedical research internships for high school, undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, graduate, and first-year medical students offered nationwide, please view the catalog and visit Pathways to Science.

The Guide to Life Science Careers helps you to explore and choose what career is best for you. Starting with an assessment of who you are and how you work best, this guide takes you on a journey that extends from a survey of possible careers through the steps necessary to get there. Interviews with professionals about how they chose their career paths are included so you can learn how others became successful and understand the positive and negative aspects of various career choices. Strategies for networking, overcoming shyness and building your résumé are also discussed to help you lay the groundwork for success and present the best you to potential employers. This guide is a must read for anyone embarking on a career in the life sciences.

Related Programs

Summer High School Internship Program

Please contact us with questions that are not addressed on this webpage.

SHIP staff do not facilitate research internships for students outside of the 8-week summer program and will not accept unsolicited or late applications. 

SHIP Sponsors

The Summer High School Internship Program is currently funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Muckleshoot Tribe, the Van Sloun Foundation, Shelly Hovind, Wells Fargo and the Fred Hutch. For information about becoming a program sponsor, please contact Corporate Gifts.

Last Modified, January 07, 2020