The BPC Needs Help Creating an Industry Exploration Program

By Tim Connelly
connelly.tim-at-gmail.com

The BPC is looking for post-­‐docs to create an industry exploration program ( http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v28/n6/full/nbt0610‐625.html ). The purpose of the program is to establish connections between post-­‐docs and local industries to promote familiarity, collaboration, and career guidance.  It is an opportunity to network with a variety of post-­‐docs, human  resource  managers,  alumni,  and people who work in  intellectual  property  and  tech  transfer,  while  helping your  colleagues  realize  their  career  goals.  The program largely consists of organizing site-­‐visits to area companies. The following are a few recommendations   for how and why one could create such a program (many of these points are   based   on   a   seminar   by   Christopher   Tsang   of   UC-­ Berkeley):

Why set up the program?

Post-­‐docs  are  for  the  most  part  unfamiliar   with  which companies   are  in  their   area,   what   kinds   of  jobs  local companies  offer  to  Ph.D.’s,  and  what  career  trajectories might develop from such jobs. The problem is exacerbated by  the  fact  that  companies  are  difficult  to  visit  on  one’s own,  and  many  scientists’  professional  networks  are  too small and their career goals too undefined to know where to  start.  This  is  an  issue  for  industry  as  well;  they  are looking for great post-­‐docs either for hiring, collaboration, or even networking.

Where to start?

The first place to start is by gathering information.  You might want to survey the post-­‐doc population: Who is interested?  What companies are they interested in? What are their career goals? You’ll also want to examine which companies are in the area and what sorts of jobs they offer. Once the basic information is collected, the next step is setting up the infrastructure. In general this involves collecting  a  short  resumé  and  biosketch  from  interested post-­‐docs (Google Docs and Google Forms are easy-­‐to-­‐use programs  for  collecting  this  information   as  well  as  the survey data). The prospective companies might also appreciate a standard, brief description of the program and its goals. With these in hand, you’ll need to think about how you are going to select people, who will have priority, how  many  times  can  one  post-­‐doc  participate,  how  will you announce events, and how will people RSVP (and what to do if somebody doesn’t show up). At this point, you’re probably going to need help contacting people and getting everyone on the same page.

Where to get help?

To name a few:

•     Career services

•     The BPP (Biomedical Post-­‐doctoral Program)

•     Alumni networks

•     Business development/Tech transfer/Intellectual property offices

•     Professional associations (of both post-­‐docs and industries, AWIS, etc.)

•     Personal connections

•     Career fairs

•     Conferences

Career services and the BPP could be especially helpful in making the connections you will need. They can also provide resumé/etiquette guidance, and they might be able to schedule timely seminars that address related topics (for example, a seminar by an immigration attorney to clarify issues that might affect foreign post-­‐ docs, or tailoring the established networking/resumé/ etiquette/informational interview seminars towards specific site-­‐visits).

Sitevisits

For site-­‐visits, you could incorporate these elements:

•     Welcome/overview

•     Panel discussion with employees from various levels

•     Networking hour/lunch (a 3:1 post-­‐doc to employee ratio seems effective)

•     Feedback from both post-­‐docs and companies – this will be crucial to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Large companies are generally more prepared and more likely to have people dedicated to this type of outreach. Remember that a happy and enthusiastic HR Manager is invaluable, so make sure you show gratitude to those who helped  set  up  the  visit  with  a  gift  card,  food  basket  or similar gesture.

An  Industry  Exploration  Program  is  an  excellent opportunity  to help your fellow post-­‐docs find out where they  are  going  and  what  they  want  to do. In the meantime, you will be establishing a number of connections that will be sure to profit you in whatever career you choose. With 3-­‐4 post-­‐docs working together, the program should be fairly low-­‐maintenance. If you are interested in helping set up this program, please e-­‐mail BPC Council Co-­‐Chair Rohinton Tarapore at pcouncil-at-mail.med.upenn.edu

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