PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Brittany MacTaggart (Hosted by Aspen Institute)

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. Brittany MacTaggart, a PhD candidate in Cell & Molecular Biology, was placed as a Fellow with the Aspen Institute. Read about Brittany’s experience in the CEF below!

Brittany MacTaggart HeadshotDescribe your experience working with your host:

Through my host, I was able to learn about several different roles in the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. These roles included things like project manager, research analyst, etc.

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

I learned more about the wide variety of roles there are in education outreach and non-profits. There are a lot of moving parts in a non-profit, and there are positions that had not even occurred to me.

How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?

It has helped me to understand how I could use the skills from my PhD in a non-profit setting.

What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?

The most valuable part of the CEF experience has been the ability to start preparing for a job search outside of academia, since the process can be quite different than what we are used to. This was accomplished through conversations with my host, as well as through workshops from Career Services.

Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF:

I think it is a great way to start seeing how you can translate skills gained in academia to jobs outside of the tenure-track, by learning from people in the profession and from other students in the program, which can increase your confidence in seeking a job outside of academia.

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