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. Jose Gorbea Colón, a PhD candidate in Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, was placed as a Fellow with Penn Center for Innovation Ventures. Read about Jose’s experience in the CEF below!
What was your fellowship experience like working with your host? What activities did you engage in?
I had a great fellowship experience with Penn Center for Innovation-Ventures group with Dr. Michael Dishowitz. In my initial informational meeting, we talked through all the types of work carried out at PCI-V and the key role PCI-V plays at the interphase between academic innovation and entrepreneurial activity. This exposure was an excellent introduction into a career field that has always been a curiosity of mine but never thought I could bridge the gap toward. CEF afforded me an opportunity to make connections and really see how people on other fields use their PhD’s to succeed in diverse fields.
What did you learn from this opportunity (about yourself, about career fields, the job search, etc.)?
I learned a great deal from the meetings with Dr. Dishowitz and the PCI-V team, specifically the type of initiative as well as creative and lateral thinking that goes into bridging science and business, and how I should be preparing myself in graduate school/postdoc to best participate at this junction in the future.
How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?
CEF allowed me to expand my network with other peers at Penn and helped me get ready for my next career steps through their excellent workshops, especially the resume and LinkedIn workshops! It was very eye-opening to see how many ways and resources are available to truly prepare yourself as best as possible for the next step.
What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?
Before starting my CEF experience I did not feel anywhere nearly as prepared for the job search as I did afterward. Between the experiences, the workshops, and the community support I was able to take my applications to a whole new level.
Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF?
This is a unique opportunity to experience diverse work environments within a supportive community. Not only are you able to engage in experiences that would normally be out of reach for most students, but you are able to take away so much from it – from career and practical job application advice, to an expanded network, to simply putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes and seeing how the skills a PhD teaches you can be put in action in a completely different way –I would recommend this experience to everyone!