Graduate students and post docs would be wise to join groups that teach leadership and networking skills, which could help them compete for jobs outside of academia. So say three alumni who recently visited Boyce Thompson Institute for an all-day event organized by the Institute’s Postgraduate Society (PGS) and alumni engagement team.
On April 26, BTI held the 2019 PGS Career Symposium and Alumni Recognition Awards, honoring the Institute’s inaugural class of alumni awardees: Martin de Vos, Parag Mahanti and Jesse Munkvold.
In their prepared remarks, all three recipients emphasized the importance of groups like the PGS to their postgraduate success in industry. The PGS organizes events and mentorship opportunities that contribute to the professional development of young scientists.
“PGS teaches leadership skills, workshops on how to write a good CV, opportunities to network and mentor people, and other things that you otherwise might not learn in the lab,” said de Vos. “I think that’s very important.”
De Vos is a program scientist and team lead for trait biology at Keygene, a Dutch agricultural biotech company, and an alumnus of Georg Jander’s lab.
Mahanti noted that, counter to what many postgraduates may believe, a PhD can sometimes hinder a person’s job prospects because they can appear underqualified for a job that requires an MBA and overqualified for a job that requires only an undergraduate degree.
“In order to compete at the same level as someone with an MBA, PhDs have to sharpen their communication and leadership skills, which is where participation in societies like PGS helps a lot,” he said.
Mahanti is Associate Director, Access Strategy and Commercialization team at pharma company Novartis and an alumnus of Frank Schroeder’s lab.
Munkvold shared advice on how to network, which is crucial for making connections and does not always come naturally for scientists. “When you are meeting someone new, always think about what you can do for them, not just what they can do for you,” he said.
Munkvold is a Research Scientist at Corteva AgriscienceTM, the agriculture division of DowDuPontTM, and an alumnus of Gregory Martin’s lab.
The BTI Alumni Recognition Program celebrates the success of outstanding BTI alumni and recognizes the foundation provided by their experience at the Institute. BTI Alumni Recognition Awards are intended to honor exceptional individuals and their accomplishments, particularly as they relate to research, education and scientific communication. Nominations for the 2021 award round can be submitted at btiscience.org/alumni.