PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Kyla Mace (Hosted by Education and Professional Development at Penn Engineering)

In the spring of 2022, 34 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 the professoriate. Kyla Mace, a PhD candidate in Pharmacology, was placed as a Fellow with Education and Professional Development at Penn Engineering. Read about Jessica’s experience in the CEF below!

Headshot of Kyla MaceDescribe your experience working with your host:

I was partnered with Dr. Kristin Field, the Director of Education and Professional Development at the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter. Going into CEF, I was interested in exploring a variety of career paths in the broad field of science communication, education, and outreach. Dr. Field connected me with individuals working in medical writing, science writing, academic administration, and writing instruction. I also worked with Dr. Field to update and organize a database of alumni information to aid in recruiting for the Singh Nanotechnology program.

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

Through my informational interviews, I further clarified what types of work I could see myself enjoying and what next steps I should take going forward. I was continually reminded that non-academic career paths are rarely linear, so now I feel less pressure to find the “perfect” post-PhD job.

How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?

I now have contacts in several science communication fields and a plan to continue growing my network and gaining experience throughout my PhD.

What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?

The most valuable part of my CEF experience was conducting informational interviews with people in my field of interest.

Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF:

The CEF provides an avenue to make connections in non-academic career fields, which often aren’t easy for us to access otherwise. It also provides dedicated time and space for professional development.

By Jacob Myers
Jacob Myers 2021-2022 PhD Professional Development Fellow, Career Exploration Fellowship Program