Speed-Networking Event Aims to Inspire and Advance

Post date: Mar 9, 2013 7:32:08 PM

More than 60 PhD candidates, scientists, faculty and staff gathered at the Wang Center on January 24th for the Speed-Networking Event for Scientists organized by the Stony Brook University Graduate Career Association. Participants were about to meet with guest speakers who have knowledge, resources, and advice to offer PhD students who are looking for an alternative career track. This new spin off of speed dating, speed networking provides a platform for graduate students and postdoctorates to explore a variety of career paths. By meeting guest speakers who have used their PhD’s to become professors, staff scientists, licensing managers, vice presidents, and many others, students can become inspired and guided. Students were given ten minutes for each individual meeting with the guest speakers. Shujie Hu, a PhD candidate in the chemistry department at Stony Brook attended the event to jump-start her job search, “This is my fourth year, so hopefully I can graduate soon. This is why I am interested in this event. Taking these opportunities to meet new people and start to build my network.”The students selected their one-on-one interviews based on their interests prior to the event. All the interviews were informative and meant to give students the opportunity to practice professional networking while exposing themselves to a varied range of position they wouldn’t have otherwise been aware of had they not attended the event.

Chris Czura is the vice president of scientific affairs at the Feinstein Institute, a medical research institute. As one of the guest speakers, Czura found students were stepping outside their comfort zone. “Regardless of what program they were in, most of them were looking for jobs outside of their science, tech transfer, patent agent, that kind of stuff. How much of that is what they’re actually interested in and how much of that is what they believe the next step is beyond the bench scientist, I’m not sure.”

For young professionals, creating a network is key, especially when PhD candidates and postdoctorates have been engrossed in laboratory work. It is important to give them the chance to consider alternatives to laboratory work, and in some cases, begin to consider career paths they would have never explored on their own.

Robert Gersch has a PhD in genetics and currently works in the cardiovascular division at Stony Brook Hospital. He attended the social hour and found he knew a lot of people there, and some he was in contention with for jobs. “It’s the up-and-comers, the go-getters that show up to these kind of things, so those people knowing each other can only be beneficial down the road.”

During the social hour afterwards, students were ale to meet with speakers they didn’t have enough time with during the individual meeting, or those they didn’t get a chance to speak to, which also allowed them to practice interpersonal networking in a different environment. Guest speakers were quickly turned into mentors as they spoke to students about their long-term goals after graduation, what their options are, and how they can be of help to their professional advancement over pita bread and hummus.

Russell Malbrough, the Associate Director of Alumni Relations, found a lot of value in the event and its goals. “I’m happy to know that the Graduate Career Association have been thriving and doing really important programming for our students but also inviting back alumni to share their knowledge and wisdom with hopefully mentees and hopefully potential hires in the future.”

By Samantha Olson