UTRF Interns 2012 Q&A
Interns: CeCe Ging and Stephanie Prager
What are you studying?
CeCe: Law (intellectual property (IP) and patent)
Stephanie: I am studying law at the University of Tennessee.
What year are you in your graduate work?
CeCe: I’m a third year student (graduating in Spring 2013)
Stephanie: I am in my third and final year of law school. Overall, this is my fifth year of graduate work. I received my Masters in Public Administration at West Virginia University before coming to law school at UT.
Why were you interested in an internship with UTRF?
CeCe: When I first heard about this internship opportunity, I was extremely excited. Coming to law school with a chemistry background, I knew I wanted to work in Intellectual property law, specifically patent law. The opportunity to assess exciting new technology and interact with inventors really attracted me to this internship program.
Stephanie: I attended a presentation given by Dave Washburn at the law school where he talked about the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and how it helps to develop university technologies. The internship was primarily geared toward intellectual property law, about which I knew very little. I felt that this internship would be a great way to get practical experience in such a vast and technical field of law.
So far, what kind of work have you done with UTRF?
CeCe: I have assessed a broad spectrum of technologies ranging from novel nanoparticles, gate assist circuits, biofuels, to tumor treatment device and more. I had the opportunity to learn from the licensing experts and interact closely with the university inventors. I have prepared disclosure screening reports that assess the commercialization potential of the technologies developed at UT. Occasionally, I would have to write marketing abstracts and monitor contract compliance.
Stephanie: As an intern for the University of Tennessee Research Foundation I have been trained on a number of legal and non-legal issues. I have expanded my research skills by examining diverse intellectual property topics. It is my main task to conduct screenings on newly disclosed technologies to make referrals regarding whether or not to patent these technologies. I have also had the occasion to review licensing agreements, confidentiality agreements, and royalty sharing agreements. My favorite aspect of the internship is the marketing side. Having the chance to see a technology grow from its conceptual stage to a marketable device is perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of this job.
What have you learned so far that will be helpful to you in the future?
CeCe: This internship position has helped me to develop skills in patentability assessment through prior art search, conducting inventor interviews, and identifying freedom-to-operate issues. All of these skills are crucial in the practice of intellectual property law. In addition to developing my legal skills, I learned so much about commercialization and entrepreneurship in general. How startup companies are formed? How to pitch a technology to raise investment? How to apply for government grants in small business development? Just the exposure to business development and marketing have opened up my eyes to new career opportunities in addition to law.
Stephanie: UTRF has given me the opportunity to hone my analytical thinking, writing, and speaking abilities through communications and presentations to university inventors and potential commercial business partners. Furthermore, I feel that this internship has given me a competitive edge over my fellow colleagues in my intellectual property law courses as I have been afforded hands-on experience in this field.
Would you recommend this internship to other students?
CeCe: I would definitely recommend this internship to all students not just law students. Technology transfer is at a unique point where scientific research, business and law intersect. To work at a technology transfer office at a large research university such as UT allows a student to be exposed to the whole story of how new products, services, and even entirely new industries are developed. There are also opportunities to meet and network with professionals and leaders in science, business and law, which are valuable to all students.
Stephanie: YES! UTRF has given me great overview of intellectual property issues, and I would highly recommend this internship to any student interested in this area. The employees are very helpful, and I felt that my work had real-world application. Most of all, I felt that the UTRF employees valued the work we did; I never felt like I was “just an intern.” I have thoroughly enjoyed this internship as well as the many associations I have made here. I appreciate having been selected to serve in the first group of UTRF interns, and feel that my experiences will certainly aid me in my future endeavors.