Career Development (including Professional Scientist Development)
In the current CBITG program, a number of activities were piloted to assist trainees about careers available to them as Ph.D. level scientists and about how to develop their professional skills to help them propel their career forward. In this new program, those activities will be integrated into the training plan on a regular basis and quantitative metrics will be used to assess their success. A list of alumni from CBITG and their positions after graduation is posted on the publicly accessible website for the program.
Program-Specific Career Activities: The CBC will be the main platform for career training. Once per semester, a workshop will be held that addresses different aspects of this topic. Several examples of panels that have been presented in the last two years have been: “Tips and Tricks for Graduate Student Success on the Job Market”, “Top Design Tips for Better Grant Figures”, “Productive, Pleasant, and Professional Interviews”, “Career Tracks in Chemical Biology: Biotech, Research Tools, Patents.” See the Appendix on Training Activities for a more complete list. Subsequent topics will be planned in consultation with the trainees and the external advisory committee.
For each of these workshops, a panel of 3-4 experts will be identified and asked to prepare some slides and make brief remarks. Trainees will be electronically polled in advance to provide questions for the panelists to consider before the event. A moderator will read some of these questions and ask the panelists for responses. Finally, the panelists will take questions from the audience. This format has proven to be an effective mechanism for generating interest in these workshops and ensuring that students find them useful. Trainees typically get a chance to interact with the panelists over lunch afterwards. Panelists will be drawn from a number of sources including training faculty, other faculty, university staff, local industrial scientists and other relevant individuals with scientific backgrounds. Examples of non-academic panelists from previous years include industrial scientists, patent attorneys, technology transfer officers, scientists from regulatory affairs, the director of the Minnesota Science Museum, scientists from the federal agencies and a biotechnology CEO from a start-up company. Beyond the specific workshops, CBC speakers for research seminars will be frequently drawn from industry (at least 2 per year), providing students with exposure to cutting-edge industrial science. To encourage individual interactions with all external seminar speakers, trainees will be invited to have lunch with them during their visit.
The second program-specific event that will be used for career training is the Annual Research Symposium. From a career perspective, this event addresses three specific aspects of career training. First, since the trainees are responsible for all aspects of the symposium, they learn about all dimensions of planning and running a scientific symposium including budgeting, professional communication, working in a group and organizing a banquet. Next, since the speakers arrive the night before, trainees host dinner for them (no faculty) providing them an extended period of time to ask career-related questions. An additional career panel was included in our symposium last year. Finally, the symposium will provide an opportunity for the trainees to meet scientists working in a variety of settings since the program always includes several non-academic speakers. Past examples of this include scientists from industry, a NASA scientist, FBI scientists, and an entrepreneur.
Additional Career Activities: In addition to the programmatic activities described above, there are substantial opportunities at the UMN for all students to augment their career potential. The College of Science and Engineering holds an annual career fair where students can participate in mock-interviews and on-site interviews with prospective employers. The College career site features a wealth of information on career assessment, networking and information about internships, co-ops and job shadowing. As an example, 3 out of 12 of the Ph.D. students from the co-PI Pomerantz’s group have participated in internship programs as well as 2 out of 10 PhD students from co-PI Carlson’s group. These internships have involved hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, tech transfer offices, and a biotech company. The College of Biological Sciences Career Development Office offers a series of career development workshops for postdocs and senior-level graduate students, led by a team from Nelson Biomedical (a consulting firm). The workshops focus on developing communication skills for pursuing careers outside of academia. Of note, the University has a website dedicated to career resources for students from underrepresented groups.