Stanford Biosciences student looking at computer


The Extra 5% Can Make All the Difference





This reception and dinner at the Cantor Arts Center offers third- through fifth-year graduate students the opportunity to mingle with alumni in a variety of careers, to celebrate the training successes of fourth-year biosciences graduate students thus far, and to encourage them to begin thinking of ways to build their careers now. An invited speaker gives a fun keynote address.

Top skills covered: relationship building, career exploration

"This event was really great. The speaker was engaging and inspiring, and the conversation with my fellow biosciences students was a lot of fun!"

"Great experience to talk with people in many career stages and types of careers."

Every spring, BioSci Careers hosts its annual "Biotechnology Industry Day," a customized recruitment opportunity for organizations in the life-science and medical fields. The goals are to strengthen relationships with a core group of companies, to formalize channels for recruitment, to raise awareness of research directions and trends, and to stimulate the exchange of scientific ideas and dialogue.

Top skills covered: relationship building, current research, career exploration

BIOE 450 (Spring)

Advances in Biotechnology

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This quarter-long course invites speakers from academia and industry to discuss the latest research in bioenergy, medical diagnostics and beyond, while also discussing issues of ethics and entrepreneurship in the field.

Top skills covered: current research, ethics, entrepreneurship

"...the guest speakers range from venture capitalists to law professors, providing insight into how collaborations function between various disciplines and institutions."

The Stanford Biosciences Grant Writing Academy provides coaching, review and editing for multiple grant mechanisms to all postdoctoral scholars and graduate students in the biosciences. Our goals are to enhance the development of productive, independent research scientists, support postdocs and graduate students in creating successful proposals and provide coaching, editing, and review for multiple grant mechanisms.

Top skills covered: writing, grant proposals, fellowships

Various Courses

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Get innovating! The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design—known as the—embraces design thinking as the glue for multidisciplinary collaboration and innovation. The teaches project-based interdisciplinary classes around themes or initiatives—including social entrepreneurship, business, and design. Participants get to tackle real—world projects to learn more about design thinking and practice innovating together. Courses and workshops are available throughout the year.

Top skills covered: innovation, collaboration, design thinking

SOMGEN 210 (Fall/Winter)

Empowering Emerging Scientists I & II

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This two-quarter sequence is a practical guide for career development, which includes training on career direction, communication, and the development and leveraging of relationships, all skills that are also easily translatable to many areas of life. Through conversations, self-analysis, and writing exercises, each participant designs a fulfilling and impactful vision for their career and life as a whole. Participants learn a practical, step-by-step process for living a more inspired and productive life.

Top skills covered: communication, building relationships, career direction

BIOS 225 (Winter)

Gender in Science

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Reviews social science research on factors contributing to gender disparities in the workplace such as implicit bias. Participants discuss steps individuals and institutions can take to promote advancement of women and other under-represented groups in science and to promote science by better utilizing the entire talent pool. Open to PhD and MD students and post-doctoral fellows in the biological sciences.

Top skills covered: problem solving



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These intensive 1-3 week courses allow students to tailor their education across disciplines without requiring a full quarter's commitment. Students explore new directions for current research, potential postdoctoral avenues, or just topics of interest. Stanford Biosciences students and postdocs have highlighted these offerings as among the most exciting parts of their education, for the way in which they catalyze their research and open new paths. Listings for the current academic year are listed at Explore Courses under BIOS.

Top skills covered: current research topics

Stanford's many schools and departments offer courses that may be particularly inviting to graduate students from other fields. The VPGE provides a sample of these courses, including offerings from the schools of Law, Engineering, and Business.

Top skills covered: interdisciplinary learning

STVP, the entrepreneurship education and research center at the School of Engineering, offers courses in innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship for graduate students. Courses include "Creativity and Innovation"—an experiential offering that uses case studies, field trips, and expert guests to explore the factors that promote and inhibit creativity—and "Patent Law and Strategy for Innovators and Entrepreneurs."

Top skills covered: innovation, entrepreneurship

INDE 234 (Spring)

Introduction to Writing Research Proposals

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This course gives important instruction in research proposal writing, with a substantial writing component. Enrollment is by instructor approval only.

Top skills covered: research proposal writing

CTL 219 (Summer)

Oral Communication for Graduate Students

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This course focuses on graduate-student speaking activities such as teaching (delivering lectures, guiding discussion, and facilitating small groups), professional presentations and conference papers, and preparing for oral exams and defenses. In-class projects, discussion, and individual evaluation assist students in developing effective techniques for improving oral communication skills.

Top skills covered: oral communication

HRP 214 (Winter)

Scientific Writing

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This course walks graduate students step-by-step through the process of writing and publishing a scientific manuscript. Students will learn how to write effectively, concisely, and clearly with the preparation of an actual scientific manuscript. Students are encouraged to bring a manuscript on which they are currently working to develop and polish throughout the course.

Top skills covered: scientific writing, editing, publishing

"Helpful to those interested in scientific writing."

Students help produce and publish SAGE, an eco advice column, by choosing, researching and answering questions about sustainable living submitted by Stanford alumni and the general public.

Top skills covered: writing, researching, publishing

This seminar series explores the variety of jobs available within academic institutions, including academic advising, research support, and curriculum development. The VPGE announces dates at the start of each quarter for registration and participation.

Top skills covered: academic career exploration, relationship building

"...has been helpful in identifying jobs within the academic realm that our PhD training is useful for."

INDE 228 (Spring)

Career Transition Planning

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In order to build a satisfying career, it is important to have a keen understanding of your abilities and interests along with knowledge of the myriad career options available to you. The earlier one develops such awareness, the easier it is to tailor the Stanford training experience to best support your professional goals and aspirations. This course offers career-exploration tools and exercises to help clarify your priorities, and introduces you to alumni, faculty, and industry speakers from a variety of fields to highlight the range of settings where your skills may be useful and relevant.

Top skills covered: self-assessment, career exploration

SGSI (Fall)/ENGR 311B (Spring)

Designing the Professional

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This class can either be completed in one week as part of the Stanford Graduate Summer Institute at in early September or as ENGR 311B in the spring. This class applies "design thinking" to each individual's post-Stanford professional life-teaching a framework for vocational wayfinding and locating profession within life overall to each individual. Other topics covered during the course include tools to investigate multiple professional paths and the creation of a personal "Odyssey Plan" to innovate multiple prototypes for post-PhD professional launch.

Top skills covered: design thinking, career exploration, innovation

"E311B is a must-don't miss this course! It is based on design-thinking principles and encourages students to stretch their creativity muscles, to have fun, and to prototype several career and life paths."

INDE 231A/INDE 231B (Fall)

Curricula for Academic Careers

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These courses introduce the breadth of academic career paths across diverse institutions, provide hands-on preparation of application materials, and discuss the non-research aspects of faculty roles, including teaching and lab management. Featuring faculty from different institutions as guest speakers and panelists, these courses discuss the typical career progression for future faculty, from finding and obtaining faculty jobs to navigating the first year, and to working toward tenure.

  • Career Foundations: Academia (September) - Introduces the breadth of roles, responsibilities and academic environments from a panel of junior and seasoned faculty in different roles and institutions.
  • INDE 231A: Career Transitions: Academia (Fall) - Prepare and polish your CVs, cover letters, research/teaching statements, job talks and interview skills, receiving individual practice and critique.
  • INDE 231B: Career Prep & Practice: Academia (Spring) - Focuses on the non-research skills and knowledge to succeed in academia, including balancing faculty responsibilities, writing grant proposals, classroom management and teaching.

    Seminar videos available online here.

    Top skills covered: academic career exploration

    "It was a great course, designed to help students reflect on their values and learn about different options in academic careers that may best fit those values. I would recommend this seminar to anyone who is considering an academic career!"

BioSci Careers coordinates seminars with various speakers in local, national, and international industries to expose graduate students to a variety of opportunities available after their graduate training. Students can register for the individual events on the BioSci Careers website prior to the seminar.

Top skills covered: career exploration

"A great way to explore different career options, including through panel discussions with Stanford alumni."

The Mentors in Teaching (MinT) Program offers specialized training in developing and improving effective teaching skills in specific disciplines. Graduate students can be trained as teaching mentors for their individual departments or as MinT fellows for a cohort of students from multiple departments across the university.

Top skills covered: teaching, mentoring

"Having served as a TA mentor within my department, I found the Mentor in Teaching Program to be very useful."


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The VPGE's series of interdisciplinary lunch discussions catalyzes interdisciplinary and cross-school learning opportunities for graduate students. Over lunch at 12 p.m., 12 students and a faculty facilitator choose a complex problem of real importance to grapple with over five monthly meetings. This open-ended format encourages students to contribute to the Stanford intellectual community, tackle interesting questions, be exposed to new ideas, and even challenge their own worldviews. Participants also expand their Stanford network across the University. Lunch is included, and each group chooses its topics at the first meeting. Past 12@12 groups have discussed evolving family structure and the role of marriage, cognition-enhancing drugs, and the role of higher education in society.

Top skills covered: problem solving, interdisciplinary learning

Academic Chats

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Join your fellow students for lunch and a discussion of academic life with guest experts. Topics for 2013-14 include "Applying for Academic Positions," "Keys to Finding the Right Postdoc," and "Establishing and Managing a Research Program." Each chat is limited to 40 attendees. Readings will be sent prior to the chat.

Top skills covered: academic careers

"I think one of the outstanding values of these academic chats lies in the varied perspectives they add to what is typically the singular source of information to which most of us grad students have access, our advisors. Not that any given advisor gives poor advice, but it's bound to be limited. These chats really help to fill that void."

Goal Setting and Time Management

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Graduate students face many pulls on their time, with short-term deadlines and ongoing responsibilities. This workshop presents both new students and veterans with tips on how to make the most of your schedule, adding balance to your life while helping you produce more efficiently than ever before. Start your year off with a positive attitude, goals, and productive work habits.

Top skills covered: time management, goal setting, productivity

Quick Bytes

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These brief, information-rich sessions are held over lunch throughout the academic year. They are open to all currently enrolled Stanford graduate students. Each Quick Byte focuses on a key area of training relevant to students at any stage, whatever their future plans, such as communication, interpersonal development, or personal and career development. Sessions are led by faculty and staff from VPGE and other campus partners—with a priority on making them interactive, practical, and fun. They also will direct you to additional resources and deeper learning opportunities. Workshops during the 2012-13 academic year included "Top Tips to Manage Graduate School," "Telling Stories with Data Visualization," and "Winning Fellowships."

Top skills covered: communication, time management, successful habits

Science Posters: Best Practices

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This workshop guides early stage students in making science posters, focusing on how to determine what content to include and how to best organize it all. Students will also discuss what makes particular posters better than others.

Top skills covered: posters

Kearns' half-day workshop details the skills and habits graduate students can implement to finish their degrees on time, increase productivity, and enjoy graduate life!

Top skills covered: successful habits, time management

ENVRES 200 (Fall/Spring)

Communication Matters

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Available on YouTube, Dr. McConnell reviews the foundations of preparing and presenting an effective scientific talk.

Top skills covered: presenting scientific talks

ENVRES 200 (Fall/Spring)

Designing Effective Scientific Presentations

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Available on YouTube, Dr. McConnell reviews the foundations of preparing and presenting an effective scientific talk.

Top skills covered: presenting scientific talks


Leadership Labs

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The Leadership Labs are a series of highly interactive workshops, condensed by the VPGE from Stanford's Graduate School of Business leadership curriculum. These workshops are built around real-time feedback for rapid skill development and cover essential areas for every work environment—such as team development, conflict management, social competence, and managing personality differences.

Top skills covered: interpersonal relationships, management

"Leadership Labs is an exceptional survey of emotional intelligence, underscoring its utter importance in professional and personal contents."

Management Matters

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Managing people can be the most stressful part of any job—but, if done well, can also be one of the most rewarding. This workshop sequence focuses on simple principles and guidelines that, once learned, can make the process of managing others enjoyable and effective. Previous workshops included "Working with Different Styles," "Making Expectations Clear," and "Giving and Getting Feedback."

Top skills covered: management, interpersonal relationships

"Management Matters gives a new perspective on interpersonal relationships, focusing on managing up, down, as well as sideways."

This workshop series is a dynamic mix of theory, demonstrations, skills exercises, and role-play practice intended to increase your confidence and effectiveness in any negotiation you undertake. Participants will leave with a practical framework that gives a clear map of an effective negotiation process. Previous workshops included "Basics of Negotiation Success," "Role of Persuasion in Negotiation," and "Role Plays and Feedback."

Top skills covered: negotiation, interpersonal relationships

Would you like to know the secret to high-output, low-stress scholarly writing? In academia, it is often assumed that writing comes naturally. However, an overwhelming body of research shows that there are very clear and practical strategies that can greatly increase your writing productivity. This workshop covers everything from principles of "quick starting" to clarifying your thinking and improving the quality of your work.

Top skills covered: writing, productivity

Vocal Yoga

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These drop-in, weekly coaching sessions offer training in breathing, relaxation, and articulation to improve your oral communication skills in a variety of settings. Vocal Yoga is offered on Wednesdays of each quarter during Weeks 2-10.

Top skills covered: oral communication, personal wellness

CTL promotes the development of teaching skills for graduate students through personalized one-on-one feedback. Multiple services are offered, including classroom observation, small group evaluations, and courses on teaching throughout the year.

"SUCH a tremendous resource on campus for those who want to improve their teaching. Their team is dedicated to help you succeed in the classroom, from designing syllabi to acquiring impeccable oral communication skills."

"All the staff at the CTL who I have had the privilege of interacting with have been thoroughly enthusiastic, professional, and a joy to work with."

The Office of Graduate Education aims to help train and empower the next generation of leaders and innovators within and beyond academia and industry. We recognize that our graduate students are the central drivers and conductors of some of the most transformative research in the world. Our office offers programs and services to support graduate students and sustain the level of excellence achieved by the Stanford Biosciences.

Today's intellectual and social problems require the minds and talents of students from many fields. Stanford's graduate students are able to roam freely, gathering and sharing ideas across disciplines. VPGE works to expand cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary educational opportunities for students, encouraging students to enroll in classes across the University and bringing students from diverse fields together.

The Hume Writing Center offers assistance to graduate students with oral and written communication throughout their academic career. Graduate students can seek help with preparing a fellowship application, take courses and workshops in public speaking, and receive personalized feedback on an upcoming presentation or job interview.

"Tremendous help for me as an English-as-a-second-language speaker."

"The Dissertation Boot Camp really kick started my thesis writing. I learned more about my writing style and made great headway on my thesis through this program."

The BioSci Careers Internship Program is a unique opportunity for medical and life-science trainees to gain meaningful work experience in a broad range of areas where science experts can make significant impacts. Along with excellent academic research training, internships offer myriad opportunities for professional growth, interpersonal skill development, communication, and relationship-building, all part of a critical investment toward helping trainees explore their career choices in the sciences.

BioSci Careers has developed two documents to aid in student/faculty mentor conversations about research and career progress: one for those early in their training and another for those in the middle or late stages. These additionally address the assessment of a student’s preferred mentoring style, communication of mentoring needs, and how to use these documents and other resources in the process.

Top skills covered: student-faculty mentorship, relationship building

BioSci Careers

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This center provides support for the exploration of career options, development of professional skill sets, and connections to opportunities for trainees in the medical and life sciences. It houses career and professional development resources via in-house and online libraries. Further, career counseling provides one-on-one insight into the career-development and job-search process. Finally, BioSci Careers partners with alumni, faculty, and experts in myriad fields around discussion groups and curricular efforts. Trainees are empowered to both define their individual passions and to set short- and long-term goals, including those that will impact other organizations, cultures, and communities regardless of external expectations of career choice.

Top skills covered: career exploration, professional development, self-assessment

"If you're continuing on in academia, going into management consulting, or biotech/pharma industry, they can help."

"The Career Center at Stanford Med School has excellent guidance counselors, industry connections, and interview preparation strategies."

This group brings together medical and life-science trainees, to assist in exploring the breadth of opportunities and duties within media/communication. Additionally, we aim to prepare our trainees for success in these areas through expert advice from BioSci Careers career professionals, science and health communications alumni, and employer representatives. Participants will find materials and resources in support of exploration and practice in science-media/communication careers as well as a centralized calendar for upcoming events.

Top skills covered: career exploration

This informative group assists in exploring the breadth of opportunities and duties within the science-policy field and related government/NGO sectors. Additionally, we aim to prepare future policy creators for success in these areas through expert advice from BioSci Careers career professionals, alumni who are working or in Science Policy, and agency representatives. Participants will find materials and resources in support of exploration and practice in science-policy careers as well as a centralized calendar for upcoming events.

Top skills covered: career exploration

Stanford Consulting Associates

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A student-run, management-consulting group in the School of Medicine, partnered with the Career Center, we seek to provide consulting curriculum and case-study practice in preparation for interviews with various management-consulting firms. In addition, our goal is to provide members with an experiential education through teamwork and partnerships with industry consultants.

Top skills covered: career exploration, interview preparation


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An "industry agnostic" community with startup entrepreneurs whose goal is to accelerate the development of potential founders, StartX provides mentorship and training through an alumni network, as well as resources (e.g., office space, cloud storage) and need-based financial aid for startups.

Top skills covered: alumni-student mentoring, entrepreneuership

"Really great way to bring together different engineering, science, business, etc. backgrounds and support early project development."

"StartX if you are curious about the entrepreneurial side of science and/or have an idea for a business."

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