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Career planning workshop for science trainees set

Feb. 12, 2015, 8:53 AM

by Bill Snyder and Liz Conrad

A half-day workshop for Vanderbilt University graduate students and postdoctoral research fellows on “building professional relationships” will be held from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the Student Life Center.

The ASPIRE to CONNECT workshop is part of the federally funded Vanderbilt ASPIRE program, which aims to help prepare Vanderbilt scientists-in-training for a broad range of career opportunities, including those outside of academia.

Other sponsors include the Biomedical Research Education & Training (BRET) Office of Career Development, the Graduate School, and International Student and Scholar Services.

ASPIRE, which stands for Augmenting Scholar Preparation and Integration with Research-related Endeavors, is supported by a five-year, $1.2 million “BEST” (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) grant awarded in 2013 by the Common Fund of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The program is co-directed by Roger Chalkley, D.Phil, senior associate dean in the BRET office, Kathleen Gould, Ph.D., associate dean for Biomedical Sciences and director of Graduate Student Support, and Kim Petrie, Ph.D., director of the Office of Career Development.

ASPIRE currently offers several other components, including:

• Twice monthly postdoctoral career planning “cafés;”

“Beyond the lab” career planning videos; and

• ASPIRE modules: short courses on communication, business and entrepreneurship and clinical research.

The final component will be an internship and externship program, to be launched in the fall of 2015.

This initiative will offer trainees the opportunity to broaden their skills outside of the lab and classroom setting.

“These highly-trained scientists have so much to offer and it is so important for us to give them the experiences and the tools to get out there and utilize their background and training to make a difference in the world,” said ASPIRE program manager Ashley Brady, Ph.D.

“That’s not only through experiments in the lab,” Brady continued. “It’s our responsibility as other scientists, as taxpayers, and as members of society to support and nurture our scientists to utilize their talents in the best way possible.”

Gould said she believed that giving students more career options will strengthen science, not diminish it. “It just increases the attractiveness of this career,” she said.

In addition to Chalkley, Gould and Petrie, ASPIRE was developed by Kate Stuart, program manager for the Office of Career Development.

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