Impactful Findings From URBEST Trainees
News Article by Tracey Baas, URBEST Executive Director
From time to time, a colleague or trainee will ask me to share some anecdotes or examples of impactful findings from the URBEST Program that they could use for a training grant, fellowship or upcoming presentation. Rather than keep these highlights to myself, I thought I would share a few here.
I was hoping you might be able to help me out with some data and/or anecdotes. Specifically, I’m wondering if there any especially impactful data from URBEST that you think I should share?
In terms of impactful findings, two ideas come to mind.
(1) The thing that trainees bring up over and over again is how important it was to connect with people outside the university, how scared they were to do this, and how surprised they were at people’s willingness to talk to them and provide advise and contacts (not jobs…very important…first connections never resulted in jobs). Trainees couldn’t understand why strangers would want to help them, but after this happened 3 or 4 times, they came to the conclusion that it was true. People wanted to help them.
(2) With interviews for jobs, research was only part of the conversation. Many trainees were surprised at how little time was used to discuss their past research and publications. I think a URBEST newsletter article sums it up best here:
I mention this because pretty much everyone made a comment to the effect that they didn't really care about the front of my resume (my research experiences) and that they liked me because of the back of my resume (my "leadership" experiences, random volunteer/extracurricular things I did). At one job fair I went to, a woman representing a contractor that does science policy work told me that I should've put those things on the front of my resume, because she didn't really think I was a strong candidate until I pointed them out. My current supervisor told me that part of why he felt comfortable hiring me despite not having done a post-doc (like everyone else in my group) was because of those things. So despite the fact that I felt like I was told to do outside/extracurricular things a billion times, it really didn't sink in how much of a difference they can make.
Any especially impactful/interesting internships - including examples that led to great job placements?
I’ve got six examples from trainees that did URBEST internships. Attaching the slides I’ve been using recently to highlight these examples. Claire McCarthy's and Jon Baker’s examples are especially interesting because they had some jobs to turn down (with deep soul searching) to take on their current roles at NCI and J. Craig Venter Institute, respectively.
Or examples of students who you thought did especially cool and noteworthy things?
I got a phone call from a shy PhD graduate student who had been waiting to hear about a job. She was going on vacation to the job city, and I told her to let the people know she was going to be there in case they wanted a face-to-face interview. I didn't think she had believed me. She's shy.
A couple of weeks later, I got another phone call with her telling me she had let the job people know about her visit, got a face-to-face interview, and was definitely in the running for the job. I was so glad she had the experience of breaking through her shyness to let her brilliance shine!
Several weeks later, I received another phone call and she told me that her materials had been forwarded to another job (one she didn’t know about) and has now signed an offer letter.
Moral of the story? Show up and never give up.
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