Professional Skills

BGS has a dedicated website for Career Development information and activities,  which includes a blog, a calendar, and information on alumni outcomes.   The website also includes an extensive resources section.  Key resources for students to explore career options and develop professional skills are described below.

 

Career Services

Penn’s office of Career Services includes a variety of specific services for life sciences PhD students and postdocs. Career Services also partners with BGS to develop BGS-specific events, including professional development workshops. 

Throughout the academic year, Career Services counselors hold walk-in Wednesday 15-minute one-on-one sessions for BGS students.  Details are on the BGS career calendar.

Career Services also organizes an annual biosciences career fair for graduate students and postdocs, which is very well attended by BGS students.

 

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Certificate Programs

BGS students have the option of applying to any of a variety of certificate programs, either at the time of initial application to the PhD program or later, depending on the program. These programs provide a valuable opportunity to pursue specialized scientific and professional interests.

Several of the programs are closely affiliated with BGS; for example, they receive various forms of support from BGS and provide courses and other forms of programming commensurate with BGS standards and objectives. 

Other programs are not as closely linked to BGS but are of potential benefit nonetheless.

BGS students may also apply to earn a Teaching Certificate through Penn’s Center for Teaching and Learning.  Approximately 1 BGS student per year participates in this program and organizes teaching-related workshops for other students.

Over the years, several BGS students have participated in the Penn Center for Innovation PCI Fellows Program.

Students interested in a certificate program should review the Policies Governing Participation of BGS Students in Certificate Programs.

Authorization is required through the form Authorization to Participate in a Certificate Program.

Students with questions about Certificate Programs should contact Anne-Cara Apple for more information.

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Professional Development Skills Series

BGS organizes a monthly series of professional development workshops throughout the academic year.  This series is developed with input from students interested in career-focused activities. Contact Rebecca Lopez for more information.

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Individual Development Plans

All BGS students are required to do an individual development plan annually. See the, "Individual Development Plans (IDPs)" tab on the Academic Information page. 

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Career Development Internships, Externships, and Meetings

Predoctoral training provided through BGS creates the opportunity for highly productive careers in science, technology, and medicine. A student’s decision as to what kind of career best fits him or her is ideally integrated with the process of training itself. Career-related meetings, externships (e.g., shadowing), and internships can be especially valuable in this regard.

Outlined here are the support and requirements for activities that relate to the exploration of careers apart from academic research but for which biomedical training nonetheless provides a competitive advantage. Activities relating to job interviews, formal training, scientific meetings, job fairs, and collaborations are not addressed here.

Support requires the student to have passed his or her candidacy exam and to be conducting thesis research. Support includes:

  • Travel, accommodations, and fees for one (i.e., in the course of training) career-related meeting or comparable event, in an amount up to $500.
  • Travel and associated training expenses for one career-related externship, not to exceed 2 weeks, in an amount up to $500; stipend support will be provided through mechanisms that already exist for the student.
  • Travel for one career-related internship, not to exceed 3 months, in an amount up to $500. Stipend and associated training expenses must be provided by the sponsoring entity.

The student is responsible for identifying the activity.

Advance approval is contingent on a process of application, which entails:

  • A description of, and rationale for, the activity.
  • Sign-offs by the thesis advisor(s) and graduate group chair, and sign-off by the thesis committee chair as well for internships. It is vital that the time taken for the activity will not substantially impact the momentum of the thesis research.
  • The student will provide to BGS following the activity a written summary.
  • Details regarding advance notice, terms of reimbursement, intellectual property, etc., are provided on the approval form.

BGS Policy Governing Student Participation in Extramural Activities 

Career Internship Approval Form for BGS Students

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Student-Led Career-Focused Groups

BGS students participate in a variety of student-run organizations. Some groups are University-wide and include students in other schools (particularly SEAS, SAS, and Wharton); others are BGS-wide, and some are graduate group-specific. Some are organized specifically to foster career development skills, while others have a more general mission but include some career-focused programming.  In addition, many graduate groups and training grants organize career-development activities with input from students.  BGS encourages student groups to publicize events open to all students via the BGS Career Development calendar, blog, and other mechanisms.  Contact Rebecca Lopez for more information. A list of student groups offering career-development activities is provided below.

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