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.
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).
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.
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