The BPC Needs Help Creating an Industry Exploration Program
By Tim Connelly
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
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).
For site-‐visits, you could incorporate these elements:
• 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