Dr. Mary Maxton in front of a White House podium

Branching Beyond the Traditional PhD Career

There are many career options for PhDs, but graduate students are often unfamiliar with career paths beyond the traditional academic postdoc and tenure track faculty route. A weekly graduate student-organized seminar offered each Spring — MCB 295, “Careers for Life Science PhDs”— is designed to change that. Before the semester, students are polled to discover the types of careers they are curious about, and then guest panelists representing those fields — including biotech, business, law, education, and more — are invited to share their experiences.

The seminar is currently run by MCB PhD students Tomer Langberg and Justin Zhang. Langberg says they encourage students to attend early on in their PhDs to “get an idea of what sort of careers are out there, how feasible they are to get, and what sorts of things they can start doing now to prepare them for that career.”

Panelists have included entrepreneurs, editors at Nature, and even a science policy advisor in the Obama administration (Dr. Mary Maxon, above). Roughly 25 panelists come each spring, many of whom are alumni of the MCB PhD program. “One of the biggest reasons recent graduates are motivated to come back is because they went to this seminar themselves, and it inspired them to go into that career,” Langberg observes. “They feel like it’s very easy for them to give back because this is where their thinking began.”

Are you an alum interested in being a guest speaker in the seminar? Visit: mcb.berkeley.edu/course/mcb295 to contact the organizers!

 

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