Program Title: New York University Scientific Training Enhancement Program (NYU-STEP)

Key People: Keith Micoli, Christine Ponder, Carol Shokes Reiss

Program Summary

The New York University Scientific Training Enhancement Program (NYU-STEP seeks to improve the career training of postdoctoral and graduate scientists. NYU-STEP seeks to engage them early in actively planning their own careers, assessing their personal values and translating those into individual goals, all while introducing them to the diverse career opportunities that will await them should they decide to leave academic research. In the first phase, scientists are encouraged (or required in some cases) to participate in a course to complete their Individual Development Plan (IDP) and provide an introduction to the NYU-STEP program. The IDP Course provides an introduction to the four broad career tracks definied by NYU-STEP; For-Profit Industry, Government and Non-profit; Communications; and Academia, broadly defined. Phase 2 of the program helps scientists develop specific professional skills useful inside and outside academia, such as time management, conflict management, communication skills, and professionalism. Phase 2 continues with career specific skills delivered in various courses and seminars. Phase 3 supports all scientists through their job search and transition to positions outside NYU.

NYU-STEP builds on successful programs developed at NYU and presents a formalization of career training and development of postdocs and graduate students as science professionals. NYU-STEP evaluates the knowledge level of participants about biomedical workforce careers starting in phase 1 and throughout the 3 phase program to better track career outcomes for all participants, including the traditionally hard to track postdoctoral employees. NYU-STEP is not intended to significantly alter the ultimate career outcomes of scientists, since so few are ending up in tenure track positions already. Instead, NYU-STEP encourages PhD and postdoctoral scientists to push their careers forward faster, and includes shorter time to PhD and less time spent in postdoctoral training as intended outcomes.

Unique to NYU-STEP is that all NYU PhD and postdoctoral scientists at the NYU Medical Center and Washington Square are eligible and encouraged to participate in the program. There is no mandatory entry point. Though we encourage participants to start at Phase 1 and take the IDP course offered each semester, we do not preclude those that have not from participating in activities in Phase 2 or Phase 3 of the program. NYU-STEP tracks participation at all phases and analyzes data to identify and build on the most effective programing offered.

Beginning Strategies

Our company visit program has been incredibly popular, and is receiving outstanding feedback from the PhD and postdoctoral scientists and from the companies we’ve visited (Mary Ann Liebert, Elsevier, and Regeneron).  Overall, NYU STEP has proven to be an excellent hub for organizing career development opportunities, both internal and external to NYU, that otherwise would not be possible.