University of Rochester Medical Center

Program Title: URBEST

Key People: Tracey Baas, Stephen Dewhurst, Sarah Peyré

Program Summary

UR’s Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (URBEST) program seeks to better prepare graduate students and postdoctoral scientists for careers outside of academia. To do this, it funds instruction in leadership and professionalism, creates new opportunities for experiential learning through internships and shadowing, and provides training pathways in (1) industry, manufacturing and entrepreneurship; (2) regulatory affairs, compliance and review; and (3) science and technology policy.

First URBEST program activities include an Individual Development Plan (IDP) Workshop, a Leadership Advantage Program, and a URBEST Retreat and Career Workshop. Internship opportunities are available to select URBEST participants who show research productivity and career development initiative.

Novel components of the URBEST program include

  1. Incorporating Self-Determination Theory (SDT) into IDPs and program evaluations to ensure continuous improvement and effectiveness of URBEST activities. Dr. Richard Ryan, co- developer of SDT, will help to assess the impact of autonomy, competence and relatedness on outcomes, perceptions and attitudes of URBEST participants.
  2. Reframing the IDP using the three URBEST pathway offerings and URBEST mentors to push PhD and postdoctoral scientists to think outside academia and to avoid IDP fatigue.
  3. Establishing three types of mentor networks – faculty, alumni and peer – to foster improved mentoring practices and better support scientist autonomy and diverse career outcomes. This has been initiated with a URBEST LinkedIn Group and SDT-based Mentoring Workshops.
  4. Flipping the classroom for a Career Stories Q&A Seminar series. Using this method, students prepare for the seminar by reading a blog post and CV of the seminar speaker, who works outside the typical academic career. If the PhD or postdoctoral scientist wants to attend the Q&A, they send in a question they would like to ask the speaker as an RSVP. The session starts with the speaker presenting 5 – 7 slides in 10 minutes, while the rest of the 50 minutes is spent on Q&A.
  5. Marketing UR’s Center for Professional Development (CPD)-sponsored Virtual Speed Alumni-Trainee Networking through Brazen Careerist.
  6. Developing courses tailored for URBEST particiants, such as UR Ventures-led Intellectual Property and Commercializing Technology and CPD/URBEST-facilitated Business and Leadership Skills for Scientists.

Beginning Strategies

URBEST has had success with our Career Story Q&A that uses the idea of “flipping the classroom”. PhD and postdoctoral scientists read a blog post written by the speaker, look over the speaker’s CV, and if the scientist wants to attend the Q&A, they send questions that they would like to ask the speaker. The session starts with the speaker presenting for about 10 minutes with 5 – 7 slides. Then the rest of the 50 minutes is spent on Q&A.