Why My Internship Defined My MBP Experience

Hannah Klaeser talks about the lessons she learned at Exicure and how being an intern helped clarify her professional aspirations.

Hannah Klaeser became an R&D intern at Exicure in January 2019. Six months later, she transitioned to the role of Strategy Associate/Intern, a position she still holds today as she looks to complete her degree in Northwestern Engineering's Master of Biotechnology program (MBP).

Hannah KlaeserThe MBP optional internship opportunity is meant to give students a practical "hands-on" experience that builds on the lessons they learned at Northwestern. That has certainly been the case for Klaeser, who credits her internship with helping her clarify her professional aspirations.

She recently took a few minutes to talk about her time at Exicure and how it will continue to help her moving forward.

What were your roles and responsibilities at Exicure?

I work within a small team to identify potential indications that would be amenable to treatment by Spherical Nucleic Acid (SNA) therapeutics. We focus on understanding the potential patient population, competitive landscape, and technological feasibility of future therapeutics. I have been able to present recommendations to C-level executives and work side by side with many of Exicure’s scientists.

What were a couple of highlights from your internship?

I loved being able to deliver actionable recommendations that could result in effective therapeutics for rare and undertreated diseases. It was incredibly exciting when all our metrics aligned and we were able to recommend a new disease for further research.

I also enjoyed being able to join in on calls with Key Opinion Leaders to fill in gaps in our research. It felt empowering to know that I was able to ask the right questions that would lead toward actionable recommendations.

What is one thing you learned from the experience?

I learned how to prioritize my time and how to present an overwhelming amount of information in a more digestible way. Coming from academia, I always wanted more information before I moved forward. In my current role, I need to quickly determine what information is most important for each stakeholder to make their decisions.

How do you think you'll able to apply your internship experience to the rest of your time in MBP?

The internship made me realize how much I enjoy the business side of biotechnology and led me to enroll in multiple Kellogg courses in my second year at MBP. The Kellogg courses have allowed me to meet and work with industry professionals to understand current challenges in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. I have also been able to widen my perspective on how I can be effective within these industries outside of the lab. 

How important is the internship to the overall MBP experience?

The internship experience has defined my time in MBP and has given me a much clearer understanding of what I want my future career to look like.

What was it about MBP that first appealed to you?

I appreciated the flexibility of the program and the extent of the support in finding internships and job placements after the program.

How would you describe your MBP experience?

MBP has been incredibly impactful and has changed my future path. I have been able to work with diverse groups of people to improve both my technical and interpersonal skills. 

You're on pace to graduate in June. What are your plans for after graduation?

In the fall I will be starting as an Associate Consultant at GEP, where I will be working with the firm’s pharmaceutical clients. Before then, I hope to travel to spend time with friends and family in Oregon.