Exploring career options with The Biotech Career Development Program
Jackee Sanchez, Ph.D., currently works as a medical science liaison at AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware.
Sanchez’s work assists the company’s thoracic immuno-oncology team where she finds herself based in Chicago and covering the Illinois and Wisconsin region.
But Sanchez’s career journey wouldn’t have been possible without a vital stop in Ann Arbor.
Sanchez graduated from the pharmacology graduate program at U-M last year. Now, she cites the Biotech Career Development Program (BCDP) as one of the most valuable resources for her professional development during her pharmacology studies.
And Sanchez isn’t alone. More than 100 future scientists have matriculated through the program since it was created four years ago.
What is the Biotech Career Development Program?
BCDP is a structured program that provides graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with professional skills training and guided career exploration beyond the traditional academic tenure-track faculty route.
The program’s panel discussions and seminars bring in experts outside of academia to share their experiences, which provide valuable guidance to those just getting started in their career.
“I got an idea of the top three or four careers that I wanted to explore further by hearing from other professionals through the program,” said Sanchez. “I then forged connections with people in those positions and it led to the next steps in my career, landing me where I am today at AstraZeneca”
A successful collaboration
The program is a collaborative effort between the Michigan Medicine Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS) and Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI). FFMI is a unit of the U-M Medical School Office of Research, offering funding programs, educational opportunities and industry connections to help biomedical researchers navigate the road to successful innovation and commercialization.
“BCDP has been very successful since it first launched,” said Jonathan Servoss, Ed.D., director of commercialization education and training at FFMI. “Many participants have connected with their current employer as a direct result of their participation in the program. In fact, some have had to leave the program early to wrap up their responsibilities at the university and begin their employment, which of course, we view as a great success in helping the student accomplish their career goals.”
Like Sanchez, participants often value the guided structure of the program to explore options that fit their own interests and skills.
“They learn from a diverse set of panelists we bring in for our program,” said Shoba Subramanian, Ph.D., director of curriculum and educational initiatives, who leads the career and professional development team at OGPS. “At the same time, our participants also conduct their own, individualized exploration based on the curricular structure we provide. It’s a unique and influential program for all who go through it.”
Become part of a growing program
During the pandemic, the number of applicants for the program has risen from approximately 30 to new highs of 60-80.
Although BCDP wrapped up its 2021 session earlier this month, OGPS and FFMI are already gathering a list of those who are interested in applying for the program in 2022.