PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Danielle Minichino (Hosted by Merck – Quantitative Biosciences)

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. Danielle Minichino, a PhD candidate in Cell and Molecular Biology, was placed as a Fellow with Merck -Quantitative Biosciences. Read about Danielle’s experience in the CEF below!


Describe your experience working with your host:

I had an extremely positive and insightful experience working with my host. I went into this fellowship with no clear career trajectory and my host helped me sort through options and connect me with valuable professionals spanning multiple different departments. Although the career path that interested me the most did not match up with my hosts, she did everything in her power to make sure I had a rewarding experience.

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

Before the fellowship, I was struggling to envision a career path for myself. By connecting with so many professionals and seeing their paths, I was able to paint a picture of what my future could be and more importantly, identify the key actions I needed to take to get myself there.

How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?

The connections I made both in and outside of Merck have helped me make important decisions that directly effect my future career plans (i.e.-which company should I apply for based on my needs/wants).

What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?

The most valuable part of me CEF experience was making connections all over the globe that will persist after the program has ended.

Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF:

It makes the networking element of finding a job way less daunting.

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