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URMC / Education / Graduate Education / URBest Blog / July 2016 / What is the URBEST Program and Why Should I Join?

What is the URBEST Program and Why Should I Join?

News Article By Tracey Baas, URBEST Executive Director

When people ask me to tell them a little bit about the URBEST program, it’s difficult to know where to start. The first attempt is breaking down the acronym: University of Rochester’s Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training. To tell you the truth, I don’t think very many people remember what the acronym stands for, but they do manage to take away the golden nugget. With the help of the National Institute of Health, the program exists to try to train the BEST scientists possible.

First Steps To Take in URBEST. URBEST Trainee Orientation and Skills Blitz. Career Story Q&A Seminar and Blog. Peer Mentoring for Students and Postdocs. Individual Development Plan Workshop with Speed Mentoring. Annual URBEST Retreat and Career Workshop. URBEST LinkedIn Group. Online Leadership Advantage Program (4 modules). Rochester Museum and Science Center-led Informal Science Education Workshops. Power Ties for International Trainees. Interview Preparation Workshop. Career Catalyst Bootcamp. IND494 Leadership and Management for Scientists. BME431 FDA & Intellectual Property. PM488 Experimental Therapeutics. MBI492 Science Communication for Diverse Audiences. IND438 Practical Skills in Grant Writing.How do we do that at UR? We leave the research training and discovery up to your research advisors, who have been very successful in that area. To complement your research training, URBEST focuses on helping you develop skills such as setting and accomplishing goals, creating a mentoring team, developing professionalism, learning to network through informational interviewing, and understanding what types of careers are amenable to PhD scientists. Here are some activities to get you started exploring (see Table 1).

(Table 2) 2015 and 2016 Internship Opportunities Championed by URBEST Trainees and URBEST Leaders. Policy: Children's Environmental Health Network. Industry: Upsate Stem Cell cGMP Facility. Postdoc at Cleveland Clinic. Industry: UR Ventures (UR Technology Transfer). Job at DT Ward, PC.  Industry: URMC Flow Cytometry Core. Job at BioLegend. Regulatory: UR's Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics. Institutional Research/Data Science:  UR's Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs. Industry: Litron Laboratories in Rochester. Regulatory: UR's Office of Regulatory Support.  Job at Rho Pharmaceuticals.  Clinical Laboratory/Regulatory: UR's Pathology Labs. Industrial Postdoc at Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Data Science: Insight Data Science Fellows Program (NYC). Job at @Point of Care. Communication: National Public Radio.  Job offer in progress. Industry: Pfizer Vaccines. Policy: White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Internship. Industry/Regulatory: Upstate Stem Cell cGMP Facility. Regulatory: FDA. Regulatory: Bayer’s Global Regulatory Affair Internship.With URBEST, we hope that you develop the skills necessary to identify what careers intrigue you, to set up informational interviews with role models in those jobs, and to jump on an internship or job opening when the opportunity arises – not out of luck, but from hard work and by paying attention. Your ultimate research project is in fact: you. URBEST can help you take those crucial first steps with career exploration and also help you navigate those important financial and logistical hurdles to solidify internship opportunities that you’ve initiated. And initiating sooner is better than initiating later. We’ve had numerous examples of successful internships with our trainees. (see Table 2).One of my pet projects as URBEST Executive Director is to help you see yourself as more than just a PhD graduate student or postdoctoral associate. According to National Science Foundation statistics, approximately 40,000 Science and Engineering PhDs were awarded to students in 2014. How are you distinct? What are your talents? You must identify and develop skills and characteristics that foster your identity as a scientist. You must think about how your experiences will enhance your unique identity as a scientist in your day-to-day life and on paper – your CV. If “scientist” doesn’t resonate with you, cultivate your professional persona as a scholar, researcher, communicator, or educator.

One last idea to consider is that your participation in the program will not only help you to develop as a scientist, but will also allow you to shape the format of future biomedical training programs. As stated by our program officer Trish Labosky, “The goal is culture change amongst the trainees, faculty, and administration, such that the activities the grantees develop will be measured and the ones that work will be maintained and be valuable.” By joining URBEST, you will be part of a seventeen-institute experiment that develops, identifies, and supports bold and innovative approaches needed for the modernization of biomedical training. You will be paving the way for future successful scientists.

Join the experiment. Open enrollment for URBEST will take place October 1 – 15, 2016.

Tracey Baas | 7/19/2016

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