PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Ayano Kondo (Hosted by Janssen – Immunology Translational Sciences)

In the spring of 2021, 44 PhD students from a range of academic disciplines at Penn participated virtually in Career Services’ PhD Career Exploration Fellowship (CEF) program, where they were matched with a host organization to learn about different careers beyond academia. Ayano Kondo, a PhD candidate in Cell and Molecular Biology, was placed as a Fellow with the Janssen – Immunology Translational Sciences . Read about Ayano’s experience in the CEF below!

Describe your experience working with your host:

My host was incredible. From the start of the program, Sheng genuinely cared about my career goals and wanted me to get the most out of the CEF experience. He connected me to 1-2 industry scientists per week; on top of that, Sheng met with me weekly to talk about any questions or concerns I might have about my career development.

What did you learn from this opportunity (about yourself, about career fields, the job search, etc.)?

When I started this program, I had no idea what types of jobs were out there for me, other than an R&D scientist. Through this program I learned about the structure of pharma companies and the different types of scientist positions within the drug development pipeline, which has opened my eyes to the different types of jobs I can explore and apply to post-PhD.

How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?

I had the opportunity to network with 12 industry scientists at various stages of their career path.Through hearing about their experiences, I learned what types of jobs I would be interested in exploring and what types of jobs are not for me.

What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?

The most valuable part of my experience was having a host who has become a long-term mentor. I feel comfortable reaching out to Sheng with questions about career development, job applications, and life in general!

Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF:

You will come out of the experience with a lot more confidence in finding a job after your PhD!

By Helen Pho
Helen Pho Associate Director, Graduate Students & Postdocs