Workforce Advantage Program

Join BTI for an immersive seven-week internship  for high school students and work alongside a mentor while gaining valuable work experience that lays the foundation for career exploration. 

As an intern, you will gain hands-on experience working in a world-class plant research institute while exploring the departments that make scientific discoveries possible. Our internship program pairs you with a staff mentor who will work alongside you as you learn essential job functions and insight into what it’s like to work in an independent nonprofit research environment and hone skills that will benefit you in your future career. You’ll also participate in workshops where you’ll learn from guest speakers about important topics like credit cards, taxes, interest rates, resume building, and career search.


• Gain hands-on experience and learn practical job skills
• Work alongside a mentor in an area that interests you
• Attend financial literacy and career workshops that prepare you for the future
• Experience behind the scenes of a plant research facility and see scientific discoveries in action
• At the end of your internship, receive a letter of reference highlighting your accomplishment and professional contacts


Interns are matched with a mentor in one or more interest areas including:
• Administrative Office and Human Resources
• Communications, Marketing, and Development
• Fundraising and Events
• Information Technology (IT) and Computational Biology
• Greenhouse and Lab Services
• Facilities and Mechanical Department

Areas of Interest

Coralie Salesse-Smith and David Stern are smiling in a greenhouse full of corn plants. Salesse-Smith is reaching out and touching a plant with both hands while Stern watches.
Coralie Salesse-Smith and David Stern are smiling in a greenhouse full of corn plants. Salesse-Smith is reaching out and touching a plant with both hands while Stern watches.
Coralie Salesse-Smith and David Stern are smiling in a greenhouse full of corn plants. Salesse-Smith is reaching out and touching a plant with both hands while Stern watches.

Administration and Office Management

Accounting & Finance
Experience the inter-workings of a finance department and take part in recording transactions, analysis and reporting. Participate in short-term financial projects and learn how a nonprofit organization uses budgets for business management.

Human Resources
Get an inside look at how a business hires, trains and retains employees by helping the Human Resources department. Participate in administrative activities that boost team engagement and build workplace culture.

President’s Office
Gain hands-on experience with supporting the President’s office and a nonprofit Board of Directors. Learn executive administrative functions like scheduling, filing, planning, organization of meetings and more!

Research Administration
Learn how ideas are shaped into real projects. Gain exposure in identifying potential funding sources, preparing grant applications and funding requests, negotiating sponsor contracts, and managing awarded projects for our scientific research.

Communications, Marketing, and Development

Join a science communication team! Take photos and videos and turn them into engaging content for social media and the web. Learn how to interview scientists and write about their research.

Fundraising and Donor Engagement
Gain experience with nonprofit fundraising from donor engagement to events. Learn what a database does and how fundraisers use it in their work. Try your hand at writing thank you messages, newsletters, and announcements.

History and Archives
BTI turns 100 years old in 2024! Help us sort and organize our historical photos and documents as we prepare to celebrate our centennial. Learn about archival techniques and be involved in preserving the history of science at BTI.

Computer Science and Technology

Information Technology
Get hands-on experience with supporting and troubleshooting laptops, printers, networking, Windows, Mac, and Office. Participate in IT projects and learn about project management, deployment, and security. Help set up and run live-streaming events and assist staff in the conference rooms.

Technology Transfer
Support the development and commercialization of BTI’s technologies. Participate in the translational process from technology evaluation to patenting, translational R&D (research and development), marketing to licensing.

BTI Computational Biology Center (BCBC)
Learn bioinformatics skills that can be used to address biological questions and problems by using and/or developing computational tools. Hone your programming skills in Python, Perl, and R, high-throughput biological data analysis, population, and comparative genomic analyses, and science communication. Click here to check out the BCBC web page for current and past projects. 

Greenhouse, Mechanics, and Facilities

Greenhouse Facility
Experience a working greenhouse growing plants to use for research. Learn about Integrated Pest Management, stock supplies, and maintain the facility that is crucial to growing plants and crops for research.

Mechanical Department
Get hands-on experience with building operations. Participate in cleaning facilities and equipment, maintaining office furniture and laboratory equipment. Learn the computer systems that monitor and control a scientific facility.

Learn procurement skills such as order placement and backorder research. Participate in the shipping and receiving functions of a stockroom and assist in inventory count and replenishment.

Lab and Research

Laboratory Services
Assist with the essential day-to-day laboratory operations of providing equipment, supplies and materials to laboratory researchers. Participate in the hands-on lab science that enables advanced research.

Center for Plant Biotechnology Research
Enhance your understanding of concepts in high school biology by working in a real laboratory. Get hands-on experience in using common lab equipment such as balances/scales, pH meters, centrifuges, and pipettes. Prepare media for bacteria and plant growth, sterilization of plant materials, plant tissue culture, plant genetic transformation, and Agrobacterium transformation.

How to Apply

Applications are currently open for Summer 2022!


Applications are accepted for High School Students residing in Ithaca or Tompkins County. 


Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.


BTI will communicate the status of your application to you by June 1st, 2022.


Flexible based on each student & department, but should take place during the summer or as approved on a case-by-case basis.
More details: Participating interns will receive a stipend. Transportation is not provided for students.

For any questions about BTI’s Workforce Advantage Program or how to apply, please contact us by email.

Program Spotlights

Hunter is starting his Freshman year at Candor High School. “During my summer internship at Boyce Thompson Institute I learned about Laboratory Services with some experience in the greenhouses. I was able to pick up on many different laboratory terms and equipment. In the mornings I would pick up all the dirty glassware from all the labs throughout the building after collecting all the glassware I would bring them back to the lab services room to be washed and autoclaved in preparation to returned in the afternoon. During my time in the Greenhouse department I was able to learn how to clean the greenhouses, sanitize dirty pots, and compost autoclaved plant materials. Working at BTI has helped me understand the importance of putting pride into my work.”
Aspen is starting her Senior year at Spencer-VanEtten High School. “While working at BTI it has really taken me out of my comfort zone as to working and talking with other people. I’ve really enjoyed helping assist with event setup. I’ve learned some great time management skills along with organization skills. This internship has taught me that it is important to ask questions and understand the task completely so I know that the work I’m completing is at its best. Although I was nervous to start, I now feel excited about my career path, meeting new people, and working in all different types of environments. I feel more confident in my future and happy that BTI was my first stepping stone into real life work experience.”
Kade is starting his Senior year at Groton High School. “I have been working on, with, and in computers taking them apart, updating, and recovering them. I help people with general needs as well as lend them anything they need such as adapters or power cords.”
Rohit is starting his Sophomore year at Ithaca High School. “This summer I have created a device capable of monitoring the progression of a tomato disease caused by bacterial speck by interfacing through a Raspberry Pi. The device can then quantitate the percentage that the disease has progressed over time. In this internship, I have learned the automation of ImageJ macros as well as the use of python virtual environments to edit code to allow them to work in the command terminal.”

Thanks to Workforce Advantage Program Supporters!

John Ben Snow Foundation and Memorial Trust, Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County, and many generous individual donors.


For any questions, send us an email at


Boyce Thompson Institute
533 Tower Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14853