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. Megan Frederick, a PhD candidate in Biomedical Graduate Studies, was placed as a Fellow with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy’s Communications team. Read about Megan’s experience in the CEF below!
Describe your experience working with your host:
I really enjoyed the CEF experience with my host Lindsey Samahon at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. My fellowship started with a one-on-one meeting with Lindsey to discuss my background, what I was interested in, and what I hoped to get out of my CEF experience. Lindsey told me about various initiatives at the center to communicate energy policy topics to the general public and gave me an overview of her role as the Communications Director. I attended a live taping of the Kleinman Center’s “Energy Policy Now” podcast, where Lindsey introduced me to other staff members. Lindsey also put me in touch with others at the Kleinman Center to conduct informational interviews, and I attended a staff meeting to learn more about how all the different staff members contribute to the Kleinman Center’s initiatives. Overall, it was very inspiring to learn about the Kleinman Center and the different career opportunities in Energy Policy communications.
What did you learn from this opportunity (about yourself, about career fields, the job search, etc.)?
This experience helped me envision myself in a career outside of the lab. I have been in research for over ten years and science is my passion. Prior to this fellowship, I did not realize the array of career opportunities that are available where I can use the skills I honed during my PhD. While I originally felt my expertise was primarily all about performing experiments, it’s clear now that I have a broad range of skillsets including critical thinking, publication experience, public speaking, and writing to communicate scientific concepts.
How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?
I have gained a lot of confidence and excitement about job opportunities I didn’t know much about. In addition, meeting so many people working in a science related field, but outside of a research setting, has helped me to envision myself in such a role. I also learned how to conduct informational interviews (which are fun and helpful!). I can now see the skills I have that will help me in my job search and which skills I can work on improving during the remainder of my PhD.
What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?
The most valuable part of the experience was just taking the time to meet people and learn about potential careers. I also enjoyed meeting other CEF fellows at workshops and learning about their own CEF experiences.
Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF:
To take stock of all the valuable skills that we gain throughout the PhD that prepare us for many different potential careers.