Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?

When Anuja Bhalkikar started her doctorate work in chemistry five years ago at UNL, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) student envisioned returning home to India and using her Ph.D. to pursue a career in industry instead of following a traditional academic career path.

Now, about six months away from graduation, Bhalkikar still intends to take the road less traveled. But thanks to an internship position at NUtech Ventures, UNL’s technology commercialization unit, she sees the future with much more clarity.

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How does this internship help your career?

“I would like to start work involving intellectual property right after graduation,” she said. “The internship gave me a platform to learn and understand intellectual property. Generally, graduate students are not exposed to commercialization and how research moves from the lab to the marketplace.”

Helping students explore a potential alternative career path is one objective of NUtech’s internship program, which was launched in 2014. This is valuable for students like Bhalkikar, who may have career goals outside teaching and research.

What did you study before coming to UNL?

I did my Bachelor’s Degree (Chemistry) from University of Pune and Master’s Degree (Inorganic Chemistry) from Savitribai Phule Pune University. I also studied at UNH Law Summer school (University of New Hampshire School of Law). The WIPO Summer Schools provide an opportunity to acquire deeper knowledge of IP, including an understanding of IP as a tool for economic, social, cultural and technological development, and the role of WIPO in the administration of IP and the provision of global IP services

What is the NUtech internship?

“A NUtech internship exposes students to a career option that helps them see innovation and research from a different perspective,” said Brad Roth, NUtech president and executive director and Nebraska’s associate vice chancellor for technology development. “When pursuing their degrees, students predominately experience the laboratory side. They don’t often venture out and get a broader view of what is happening with the university at large or don’t consider how innovation can be put to use by industry.”

Most students are hired as commercialization analyst interns, who are responsible for helping with the technology screening evaluation process. To analyze the marketability, novelty and commercial value of new technologies disclosed by university inventors, interns participate in inventor interviews, search for existing intellectual property and perform market and industry analyses. Then, the students work alongside NUtech’s technology managers to develop strategies for intellectual property protection, marketing and communication.

Commercialization analyst interns are not limited to their area of scientific expertise, though all have backgrounds in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.