In a remarkable display of Ph.D. community engagement, the inaugural Ph.D. Career Speed Networking event garnered the enthusiastic participation of almost 100 Einstein Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows. On Thursday, November 2, they stepped away from their research to share ideas and forge meaningful connections with Ph.D. alumni. "As an alumni office, our goal is to create meaningful opportunities for our Ph.D. alumni to reconnect, network, and share their experiences. The success of this inaugural event has reinforced our belief in the strength of our alumni community,” said Helen Guo, director of alumni relations. The event was the largest ever to bring Ph.Ds., postdocs, and alums together on campus, and “for many of our Ph.D. alums, it was their first time back at Einstein and their first time participating in an event as an alum,” she said.
Ph.D. students and postdocs visited tables headed by 21 alumni currently working in areas such as bioinformatics, drug development, industry research, intellectual property, scientific publishing, and more. “It was an excellent opportunity for them to explore a wide range of career possibilities available to Ph.Ds. and to build their network,” said Diane Safer, Ph.D., director of career and professional development for graduate students and postdocs. “Our alumni are exceptional role models. By engaging with them, attendees can not only gain insights into careers they might already be considering but also discover new and unexpected career paths.”
Approaching a "discovery" event like this with an open mind is highly advisable. Attendees were pleased to grow their networks and surprised by the array of options represented. “This event exceeded my expectations in terms of how willing the speakers were to engage and the career areas discussed. What clicked with me was consulting, which I didn’t expect,” said Anastasia Nizhnik, a fifth-year Ph.D. student. “The people we spoke to gave us confidence that we could make this kind of transition.”
The event welcomed Ph.D. students and postdocs at various stages in their academic or professional journey. Postdoctoral fellow Silvia Hernandez, Ph.D., co-chair of the Einstein Postdoctoral Association, now knows more about other career options. “Clinical trial management, for example, can involve anything from working with patients to data analysis,” she said. “It’s not the career path I have in mind right now, but I felt I could contact the person who spoke about it if I decided to go in that direction.”
At the healthcare/science communication table, Ignacio Guerrero-Ros, Ph.D. ’17, described his long path to assistant vice president at the healthcare consulting firm Russo Partners. “I want to help Ph.D. students and postdocs make a decision earlier than I did,” he said. “To arrive where I am now, I listened to my heart and wasn’t afraid to change.”
This event, a collaboration between the Office of Career and Professional Development for Graduate Students and Postdocs and the Office of Alumni Relations, marked the beginning of a new tradition, setting the stage for future Ph.D. networking opportunities and alumni engagement. Said Dr. Safer, “Next year, we may host an online version, in addition to the in-person event, to extend the event’s reach to alumni anywhere.”