Partnerships are collaborations between your office and any person or organization that has a mutual interest in biomedical career planning. Vanderbilt University uses partnerships to strengthen its career development programming.


What Partners Do

Partners share their experiences with your doctoral student and postdocs. Alumni can tell trainees what they wish they had known as early scientists; university staff can teach special professional skills; and corporate partners can provide students and postdocs opportunities to test the waters in a career. Here are some of Vanderbilt’s partnerships:

Beyond the Lab

  • Alumni give presentations on their careers and serve on panels.
  • Alumni give interviews on camera for a video series.
  • Faculty teach courses on oral communication, clinical laboratory medicine, and business.
  • University organizations, such as the Writing Studio, Center for Science Outreach, Center for Tech Transfer & Commercialization, Counseling Center, and News & Public Affairs teach workshops and courses on writing, teaching, technology commercialization, emotional intelligence, and research & the media, respectively.
  • The NIH Clinical Center teaches a free, online course on clinical research via remote webcast.
  • Businesses and organizations host tours and interns.

Vanderbilt CourseHow to Create Partnerships

First, identify potential partners. Alumni, faculty and university organizations are a great starting place, as they are already committed to education. Other contacts can be made through existing connections, engaging with local organizations, attending conferences, and even cold calling/emailing people. Each partner will have different motivations. The sooner you identify their goals, the sooner you can find a way to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

Relationship building is an ongoing process. The following activities can strengthen the relationship overtime: in-person meetings, help with job postings, invitations to speak at your institution, coordinated site visits, newsletter mailings, invitations to network with others, and providing an intern.

Try to make the partner’s commitment light. For example, for an internship program, offer to write the job description, advertise the position, and vet the applicants. For a course instructor, suggest that she adapt existing content. Professionally edit alumni videos, so that partners can be confident in the final product.

Repeated interactions, high levels of accommodation, and patience will lead to strong partnerships.

Lessons Learned

Policy Externship

  • Think outside the box. For example, when business school faculty were outside of the budget, Vanderbilt hired a professor from the school of engineering to teach a course on management.
  • Tell faculty when their own alumni participate. This news will build faculty support for career development.
  • Engage faculty as experts in their own careers.
  • Individual externships do not offer enough return on investment for employers; group visits work better.
  • Specific examples help partners envision the possibilities.
  • And finally…