Program Title: iJOBS
Key People: Janet Alder, Susan Engelhardt, Carol Lutz, James Millonig, Martin Yarmush
Rutgers University’s iJOBS Program, (interdisciplinary Job Opportunities for Biomedical Scientists), was established in September of 2015 with a BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) Award from the NIH Common Fund to educate Rutgers University’s 1000 biomedical sciences and engineering PhD students and 300 postdoctoral fellows about non-academic professional jobs and empower them to pursue their career goals.
The Rutgers iJOBS program is directed as a partnership between the Center for Innovative Ventures of Emerging Technologies and the Graduate Schools of Biomedical Sciences-New Brunswick/Piscataway and Newark. Spanning three campuses, New Brunswick, Newark and Camden NJ, the iJOBS program is specifically designed for current PhD students, Post-Doctorate fellows and alumni and encourages trainees that have completed the program to re-engage and serve as mentors to the program’s budding professionals. We have also recently expanded offering our programming to all PhD granting institutions in the state (Princeton, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology and Rowan University). iJOBS aims to provide ‘one-stop shopping” to New Jersey’s biopharma industry for first-time job placement. As such, we have partnered with more than 45 companies within our first 2 program years to ensure that our trainees are well prepared to contribute immediately within their professional area(s) of interest.
Our program follows the iJOBS students and postdocs through their entire professional placement journey. Phase 1, iNQUIRE, is the starting point for all doctoral students and postdocs, and lays the foundation for professional preparedness while providing guidance regarding available career choices. Student and postdoc experiences include instruction for business, management and communication skills essential to career success through a 40 hour course entitled, “SciPhD: Leadership and Business Skills for Scientists,” delivered by Human Workflows, LLC. Career panels with representation from experienced professionals assuming various roles inform students and postdocs of career paths appropriate to post-doctorate fellows with focus on bio and life sciences.. So that student or postdoc get a “feel” for the overall industry, industrial partners host group site visits and participate in networking sessions with the attending trainees. In Phase 2, iNITIATE, graduate students and postdocs formally commit to the iJOBS program and apply to take part in intensive training and coursework for their career track of choice. Industrial partners host unpaid shadowing/externships to allow for real world exposure (total of 72 hours over the course of a semester for observational purposes only) and Individual Development Plans (IDPs) and a mentor pod guide and advise student and postdoc progress. Within Phase 3, iMPLEMENT, doctoral students and postdocs prepare for job search and placement. Resume and application packages are honed and interview skills perfected with iJOBS coaching. Focused career fairs showcase suitable career opportunities and provide industrial partners access to these professionally competent candidates. Upon successful career placement, iJOBS program alumni are encouraged to share their wisdom with new iJOBS trainees in Phase 4, iNSTRUCT, as they serve as mentors, event hosts and shadow partners.
We have hosted programming focused on a number of career tracks 1) Science & Health Policy, 2) Intellectual Property, 3) Research in Industry and Government, 4) Clinical Trials & Regulatory Affairs, 5) Health & Science Data Analysis, 6) Venture Capital, Finance and Equity Research, 7) Medical Affairs, 8) Science Writing, 9) Science Education, 10) Non Profit, 11) Consulting, 12) Contract Research, and 13) Science Publishing and the list keeps growing in concert with student and postdoc interest and increasing awareness of the vast options for PhDs in the workforce.
Our success in only 1.5 years of programming is apparent. Of the 1300 eligible students and postdocs, 433 have attended at least 1 iJOBS event, totaling up to 7,200 person hours. Our smaller cohort of 56 iJOBS trainees that have participated more extensively in our programming have had measurable success; 13% have secured desired professional positions in areas such as product development, scientific writing, and clinical/regulatory analysis. An additional 38% have had some form of real world experience, either securing an internship they were empowered to find on their own or an externship/shadowing of a professional in their area of interest arranged by iJOBS.
The iJOBS Program is evaluated annually by an external advisory board comprised of industrial partners, our faculty ambassadors, our trainees, postdocs and alumni, partnering trade associations (BioNJ and Healthcare Institute of New Jersey), neighboring BEST institutions (NYU), and interested “CIC Big Ten” institutions (Penn State). We have also welcomed non-BEST regional institutional partners to our annual symposium to learn about our program and to share “BEST” practices.
Rutgers iJOBS capitalizes on the rich New Jersey biopharma industry including the trade organizations BioNJ and HealthCare Institute of New Jersey to collaborate with our faculty ambassadors and create de novo programming, site visits, externships and curricula for each of our five career tracks.