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Cornell University


Monday, March 13 - Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Career Options Symposium in D.C.

Life After Graduate School-Transitioning Out of Academia and Into the Real World

PhD students: Are you interested in a career in consulting, industry, entrepreneurship, the government, think tanks or non profits? Are you interested in learning more about the role you could play and the skills you need in technology or business development, science policy, academic administration, data science, communication or non-traditional postdocs? Come meet alumni who can help you find out.

In conjunction with Georgetown University's Career Strategy and Professional Development group in their office of Biomedical Graduate Education, Cornell OISE and the BEST Program are planning a two-day Career Options Symposium on March 13 and 14, 2017.

Travel and Advance Preparation

Travel for the Cornell contingent will be provided, and will include departure on March 12 with a return on March 15. APPLY here by February 24.

Cornell BESTies interested in participating should contact Susi Varvayanis to express interest, as the BEST Program will have a limited number of slots on the bus. A coach will bring all attendees to Georgetown on Sunday March 12. Dinner on your own. Monday and Tuesday programming is intentionally not full days so you can engage with on-site employers for visits, network with contacts/alumni. Use the time wisely to set up meetings ahead of time with contacts! BESTies should confer with Susi Varvayanis for assistance if needed. We recommend this Forbes article on informational interviews.

To help you prepare, make use of the Georgetown Alumni Career Services resources.

Program Snapshot

Monday 3/13: Healey Family Student Center Social Room

Finding and Applying to Opportunities in the Federal Government (How to use USAJOBS.GOV)

12:00-1:30PM: Workshop: "Finding and Applying to Job Opportunities in the Federal Government"- Talent Acquisition Division, Human Resources, United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

1:30-3:00PM :  Federal Government Opportunities-Meet and Greet with Agency Recruiters-a variety of HHS Agency Representatives-- will discuss Mission Critical (STEM) and Mission Support (non-STEM) opportunities within the Department. Alumni, faculty and administrators with government ties will also be available to discuss additional strategies for finding opportunities in the federal government.

Tuesday 3/14: Healey Family Student Center Social Room and Great Room

Alumni Workforce Transition Strategies: Where are they now and how did they get there?

3-5PM: Panel Discussions on effective workforce transition strategies- these engaging multi-disciplinary panels will feature graduate school alumni from the Cornell Graduate School and various Georgetown Graduate Programs. Panelists will discuss broadly applicable strategies that allowed them to access opportunities, harness their transferrable skills and transition into their non-academic professions.

3-4pm Panel 1: The Industry Standard

Confirmed speakers:

Cory Benavente, Senior Consultant at Excella Consulting
Eddie Billingslea, Scientific Program Analyst at the NIH National Cancer Institute
Melissa Reitkopp, Director Talent Acquisition for Quantitative Research, MRI/Talenthunter
Gabi Tayac, Historian at Smithsonian Institution

Moderator: Sheila McMullen, JD- Vice Dean, Georgetown Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 

4-5 pm Panel 2: How to make Form Meet Function?

Mark Kazmierczak, Senior Analyst Gryphon Scientific
Andrew Herr, Founder & CEO Helicase
Eldora Ellison, Director at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox
Gaurav Tanwar, Program Analyst, ManTech International Corporation
Alan Berube, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Brookings Institution

Moderator: Susi Varvayanis, Senior Director Cornell BEST Program (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training)

5-7:00PM:  Networking Reception: Attendees will meet the panelists as well as other invited alumni professionals and (potentially) job recruiters.

APPLY now.

About the Steering Committee:

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Caleb C. McKinney-Assistant Director of Career Strategy and Professional Development, Medical Center; Owen Agho-Assistant Director of Graduate Student Enrichment, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Mike Schaub-Executive Director, Cawley Career Education Center

CORNELL UNIVERSITY: Sara Xayarath Hernandez-Associate Dean for Inclusion & Student Engagement, Graduate School; Susi Varvayanis-Senior Director, Cornell BEST Program

The Career Options Symposium reflects a concerted collaborative effort to provide professional development for graduate students across the Georgetown and Cornell communities. We will use this inaugural symposium platform to synergize university entities and leverage key external partners. The goal is to strategically train workforce development transition skills to a broad array of graduate disciplines and to set a key precedent for sustained graduate student career development programming.

Below is the invitation to share with your colleagues across campus:

Inviting Applicants for a Non-Academic Career Explorations Trip to Washington D.C.

Trip Dates: March 12-15, 2017

Application Deadline: February 24

Access the online application here.

The Graduate School and the Cornell BEST Program have partnered to organize a Non-Academic Career Explorations trip to Washington D.C. for doctoral students and candidates. Participants will travel to D.C. via a charter bus on March 12 and return to Ithaca on March 15. Double room lodging will be provided to all those selected to participate in this trip.

The focal point of this trip is a collaboration between Cornell and Georgetown Universities to host a two-day non-academic career explorations symposium on March 13 & 14. Day 1 of the symposium will take place from 12-3:00pm and will focus on explorations of careers in government. Day 2 of the symposium will take place from 3-7:00pm and will include alumni panels and a networking reception. Alumni secured for these panel discussions represent a range of disciplines and non-academic employment sectors.

On the mornings of March 13 and 14, participants will have the opportunity to schedule informational interviews with professionals in non-academic careers of interest to them. The following are examples of networks to tap into to set up informational interviews:

  • Alumni from your graduate field
  • Connections of faculty members in your professional fields of interest
  • Connections established via LinkedIn and other professional networks

Participants are required to commit to travel and participation in all symposium activity and are expected to schedule at least two informational interviews. Although applicants from all graduate fields will be considered, priority consideration will be given to advanced Ph.D. students and candidates from the humanities, social sciences, and the STEM fields affiliated with the Cornell BEST Program.

Because space is limited for this trip, please do not submit an application unless you can make yourself available to travel to Washington D.C. from March 12-15 and fully participate in the program. 

Should you have any questions, please contact Associate Dean Sara Xayarath Hernandez at or 255-5417 or Cornell BEST Program Director Susi Varvayanis at or 253-4304.


by application only
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