Q1) How is GPS-STEM funded and why was it created?
GPS-STEM program is funded by Schools of Biosciences, Medicine, Engineering, Physical Sciences and Provost office at UC Irvine. The program is continuation of GPS-BIOMED program which was funded by an NIH-BEST Award until Oct 2019. In 2012 the NIH published the Biomedical Research Workforce Report, which indicated ~23% of the biomedical workforce holds tenured or tenure-track faculty positions. That means almost 80% of PhD’s hold diverse positions beyond academia. These important findings prompted the NIH to create the BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) Initiative aimed at better preparing biomedical graduate students and postdocs for success in diverse career fields including: Biotech & Pharma, Business & Consulting, Communications & Outreach, Government & Nonprofit, and Intellectual Property Law & Technology Transfer. Institutions across the country were encouraged to apply for BEST funding and the NIH select 17 schools to serve as research sites. Each site is conducting a series of experiments to identify new and innovative approaches to broaden career and professional development for graduate and postdoctoral training. The figure below represents the new model of biomedical research training BEST programs are implementing:
Q2) Who can join GPS-STEM?
Most GPS-STEM events and activities are open to all graduate students and postdocs across campus. However, in order to take full advantage of our our program, we encourage you to register! Graduate students within participating Ph.D. programs can register at the beginning of their 1st year and beyond. Postdoctoral fellows from participating departments can register after serving at least 6 months of their postdoctoral appointment.
Q3) What types of activities does GPS-STEM offer?
GPS-STEM offers a variety of professional development and career planning activities within the following categories:
- EXPLORE: Events that increase awareness of diverse careers
- TRAIN: Interactive workshops that develop professional soft skills
- EXPERIENCE: Hands-on experiences within the workplace
- TRANSITION: Networking and mentoring opportunities that foster career transitions
Q4) What are the benefits of becoming a GPS-STEM member?
Although most GPS-STEM events and activities are open to all graduate students and postdocs across campus, GPS-STEM members receive the following benefits:
- Priority access to career & networking nights at the University Club featuring prominent PhD & Postdoctoral Alumni
- Free enrollment in UCI Continuing Education Courses ($700 value)**
- Priority and reduced cost of admission to the SciPhD Business of Science Program**
- Priority enrollment in Science Communication Skills taught by Sandra Tsing Loh
- Exclusive enrollment in GPS-STEM Excellence in Science Communication Program taught by Bri McWhorter
- Priority enrollment in Teaching Apprenticeship in STEM (TAP-STEM)
- Internship & Job Search Advising
- Exclusive access to the GPS-BIOMED LinkedIn Group
- Exclusive access to our 1-on-1 Alumni Mentor Program**
- Reduced cost of admission to local professional group networking mixers
- NIH-BEST Professional Development Certificate that can be listed on resumes and LinkedIn profiles**
**To encourage participation, we assign Professional Development (PD) credit to each event or activity that we sponsor. Our members accumulate credit by attending GPS-BIOMED events granting further access to higher level activities (asterisk activities listed above). After accumulating at least 20 credits, members receive a NIH-BEST Professional Development Certificate of Completion that can be shared with employers.
Q5) What will be required of me during my time as a GPS-STEM member?
GPS-STEM activities are never mandatory. Members are free to participate in the activities they see fit within a suitable timeline. We encourage attending career exploration events early on in graduate or postdoctoral training followed by higher level activities once specific career interests are determined. In order to help our members pinpoint careers of interest and build supportive networks, we require:
- Completion of the Science Careers myIDP skills, interests and values assessments
- Creation of a LinkedIn Profile
Members are also expected to provide on-going feedback by completing event evaluations (for the events attended) as well as yearly evaluations that analyze the execution of project goals.
Q6) Will I be required to discuss my career goals with my faculty advisor?
We understand that each mentor-mentee relationship is unique and developed a PI-Trainee agreement to help our members establish honest dialogs with faculty advisors. The exercise (2016-GPS-Biomed-PI-trainee-agreement) was developed to foster discussion on the following topics:
- Careers of Interest
- Professional Development & Career Planning
- Balancing Academic & Career-related Goals
This agreement is recommended for members who would like to participate in GPS-STEM activities that require significant time commitments. It is required only for members who would like to participate in an internship. Additionally, the Graduate Division offers a campus-wide Individual Development Plan (IDP_form) that is now required for specific graduate programs. If you are required to complete the Graduate Division form, we suggest using our agreement as a supplement for the career planning section (excluding the PI signature page).
If you would like further coaching on how to prepare for difficult conversations, please contact: Associate Director, Emma Flores Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q7) How is GPS-STEM addressing culture change within academia?
At the beginning of each academic year, GPS-STEM faculty leaders deliver brief program overviews at departmental faculty meetings to emphasize the added value, specifically to research efforts, our BEST program can bring. We continually provide language for training grant applications highlighting innovative professional development programming, and encourage faculty members to engage with lab alumni and industry partners to increase networks for our members. Following our most recent faculty survey (completed in August by 75+ faculty members), we found that 94% of faculty familiar with GPS-BIOMED (now GPS-STEM) believed their trainees are benefitting from the program.