Professional Development Series

Professional Development Series is a series of talks organized by the Graduate Student Council’s Academic, Research, and Careers (ARC) Committee and its collaborators to inform graduate students about different career sectors and their trends, and to help them build core transferable skills that are useful in multiple career paths. For example, some events invite MIT alums working in diverse fields to talk about their career, as well as how their MIT education helped them make their career decisions. Other events deal with the “nuts and bolts” of career exploration, finding a postdoc, etc. There is a low-traffic email list that announces future Professional Development Series talks. You can sign up to this list. Furthermore, if you are interested in helping us organize this series, recommending speakers, or meeting/networking with alums in different fields, please let us know at gsc hyphen arc at mit dot edu.

Upcoming Events – April 2012

GSC Professional Development Series 8

An entrepreneurial path from IT to Biotechnology with a little help from MIT – RSVP required

Who: Jeff Behrens
When: Friday, April 20, 11.30am-1pm
Where: E51-345

Jeff is CEO of Sialix, a biotechnology firm focused glycobiology and its impact on oncology and inflammation. He made a transition from IT to life sciences by spending 2 years at MIT/HST’s Biomedical Enterprise Program and currently teaches HST590. He has previously worked at Edimer, Alnylam, and Biogen Idec. Prior to MIT, Jeff was founder and president of The Telluride Group. There will be food—please try to bring your own reusable tupperware/ utensils. Also bring lots of questions!

GSC Professional Development Series 9

Presenting Technical Information to People Outside of Your Field – RSVP required

Who: Thalia Rubio

When: Wednesday, April 25, 6pm to 7:15pm

Where: Room 4-149

Academics and professionals frequently need to pitch their ideas to non-technical audiences or to people in other fields. Situations include: application essays, grant proposals, interviews for academic positions, and presentations to venture capitalists, as well as interfacing with other departments at the university. The ability to clearly and persuasively present technical information to different audiences can be a powerful force in your career development.

In this workshop, we will explore ways to effectively present the key points of your work. If you have a specific situation and would like to review it as part of the workshop, email Thalia Rubio in advance at

Thalia Rubio is a lecturer in the MIT Writing and Communication Center, where she frequently works with graduate students and post-docs who need to present their ideas clearly to different audiences.

Other Events from the Careers Office – April 2012

Networking in Asia – Let’s learn how to do it together!

Thursday, April 12, 12:30-2pm, 32-141

Why is networking important in Asia? How can I start networking and how should I behave during the process? This event will teach networking skills and business etiquette to those wishing to work in China, Korea, or Japan. Register on CareerBridge.


Job Search 911: Tips for Graduating Students and Recent Graduates (webinar)

Thursday, April 26, noon-1pm, online

Graduating next month without a job lined up? It’s not too late to jump start your search. Sign up for this webinar for tips on maximizing the impact of your resume, creating tailored cover letters, and uncovering the hidden job market. Registration and attendance at  (click on Register)


Business Etiquette- Mastering Meals, Manners and Business Interactions

Thursday, April 26, 4-5pm, room 4-237

Are you unsure as to what to do during interviews and networking dinners? People tend to equate a lack of etiquette with a lack of care and self-control necessary to be good at what you do. Etiquette is about presenting yourself with the kind of polish that shows you can be taken seriously. Come learn tips on how to have an etiquette advantage to help you land a job. Register on CareerBridge

Past Talks: 2011

GSC Professional Development Series 7

Negotiations Workshop

Wednesday, February 29, 6-7:30 p.m., E51-315 - RSVP required

With summer internships and full-time jobs around the corner, will you be able to successfully negotiate your salary? How do you pitch an idea for a start-up, pitch a company, or pitch yourself during an interview? Whether you’re selling yourself in an interview or selling a new idea, representing yourself in the best light possible will enable you to successfully negotiate and achieve your goals. Professor Denise Lewin Loyd and the GSC ARC committee will tell you how.

Denise Lewin Loyd joined the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2005 after completing her MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT and a PhD in Management and Organizations from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Her work appears in outlets such as Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes and the Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal. Professor Loyd has received awards for her research from the International Association for Conflict Management, the Academy of Management, and the State Farm Foundation.

Come with questions! Refreshments will be served.

GSC Professional Development Series 6

Some Advice for Technologists Wanting to Do Start-ups

Thursday, November 17, 2011, 7-8 p.m. in E51-315 - RSVP required

Who: Bilal Zuberi, General Catalyst Partners

Bilal is an investor with General Catalyst Partners, a Cambridge, Palo Alto and NYC based venture capital and private equity firm. Bilal focuses on investments in companies with deep technology & engineering focus, especially clean energy.

Bilal’s passion lies with big ideas, disruptive innovation, and first-time entrepreneurs. Bilal has helped with GC investments in SustainX, Arc Energy, SunBorne Energy, Vette, SynapDx, Novogy, CLEAResult and GridCo. He co-founded a successful program to promote and encourage university based entrepreneurship (ENTER), co-organizes annual University Research and Entrepreneurship Symposium (URES), is a member of the TiE Entrepreneurship Taskforce, and is a charter member of OPEN. Bilal is also a member of the core founding team of LUMS School of Science and Engineering in Pakistan and an advisor to the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab.

Previously, Bilal was an entrepreneur (co-founder of GEO2 Technologies that also spun out BIO2 Technologies), strategy consultant (The Boston Consulting Group) and a scientific researcher (MIT/PNNL-Department of Energy). Bilal is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a Ph.D in Physical Chemistry (Prof. Mario Molina – Nobel laureate, 1995). His technical work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and 30+ patents & applications. Bilal regularly communicates via his blog & twitter.

The Ph.D. Movie! screening with Jorge Cham of Ph.D. Comics (MIT only event — MIT ID required!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011, 6:30 p.m., 26-100

Who: Jorge Cham, creator of Ph.D. Comics; Evans Boney (cast, Mike Slackenerny); Meg Rosenburg (producer, MIT alum)

Contact: mcwilson at mit dot edu

Piled Higher and Deeper” The Movie is a live-action adaptation of the popular comic strip by Jorge Cham (featured in The Tech, and online). The movie was filmed on location at and was produced in partnership with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

The film introduces audiences to the unique and funny culture of Academia and follows four graduate students (Cecilia, Mike, Tajel and the “Nameless Grad Student”) as they struggle to find balance between research, teaching and their personal lives with humor and heart.

Those of you who are fans of the comic are in for a rare treat – Jorge Cham will be with us for the screening! There will be a live Q&A following the movie with Jorge Cham; he will be joined by cast member – and MIT alum – Evans Boney (Mike Slackenerny), and Producer – and MIT alum – Meg Rosenburg!

Savvy, delightful and humorous, we are excited to welcome Jorge Cham back to MIT.

Finding a Good Postdoc for You (organized by the Careers Office)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 3 p.m., 54-100

Are you considering a career in academia?  Perhaps you want to diversify your research skills before launching into an industry career.  This panel presentation will discuss various aspects of finding, selecting, and having a good postdoc experience.  Panelists will address typical questions which doctoral students ask about postdoc opportunities, for example:

  • How do I find postdoc opportunities?  Where do I look?
  • What is the timeline for seeking postdocs?
  • Is there a typical hiring process? Applications?  Interviews?  Presentations?
  • What are industry postdocs like, and what are the benefits of doing them?
  • How do I get a postdoc in a different area of research than my doctoral research?
  •  What can I do to maximize my chances of having a positive experience in my postdoc?

Panelists include:

  • Shalev Itzkovitz, Postdoc, Biology
  • Lara Pierpoint, Postdoc, ESD
  • Bryan Owens Bryson, Grad Student, Biological Engineering
  • Matthew Rigby, Research Scientist, EAPS

Lemelson-MIT Info Session (sponsored by Lemelson-MIT) - RSVP

Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 4-5:30 p.m. at Student Center Plaza

Who: 2006 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Winner, Carl Dietrich Co-Founder of Terrafugia

Contact: Shannon O’Brien (shannon1 at mit dot edu)

  • Come see Terrafugia’s “roadable aircraft,” the Transition®
  • Learn about the L-MIT Student Prize
  • Enjoy donuts and apple cider!

How to Brand Yourself for a Job: CVs, Resumes, Cover Letters (sponsored by the Postdoc Advisory Council)

Wednesday October 19, 2011, 3:00-4:30 pm, 76-156 (Koch Building)- RSVP required

Dawna Levenson is an MIT alumna (BS, MBA).  She was with Accenture for 18 years, as partner for the last five years of these. She is Associate Director at MIT Professional Education, where she runs the Advanced Study Program and the Career Re-Engineering Program (for mid-career professionals).

Basics of Scientific Writing (organized by the Postdoctoral Advisory Council)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011, 3-4:30 p.m. in 76-156 (Koch Institute Building) - RSVP required

Who: Dr. Sonal Jhaveri

Dr. Sonal Jhaveri teaches Science Communication to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs at MIT and at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She will discuss the basics of how to write a research paper that is targeted for publication in a professional journal.

GSC Professional Development Series 5

Entrepreneurship in Startups, Existing Companies, and Academia

Thursday, September 22, 2011, 5:30-7 p.m. in 5-134 - RSVP required

Who: Dr. Joel Schindall from MIT Entrepreneurship Center (formerly President, Loral Conic; Chief Engineer, Globalstar; and Chief Technology Officer, Loral SpaceCom)

Professor Schindall has counseled many students on career choices and how to be successful in both industry and academia.  His talk will begin with a frank discussion of what careers in startups, established companies and academia are REALLY like—it might not be what you expect! Professor Schindall received the BS, MS and PhD degrees at MIT in the 1960′s and had a 35 year career in industry before returning to MIT in 2002 as the Bernard Gordon Professor of Product Development in the EECS department.  He is also co-director of the Gordon – MIT Engineering Leadership Program and a faculty member of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. There will be food—please try to bring your own reusable tupperware/ utensils. Also bring lots of questions!

GSC Professional Development Series 4

Leveraging Your Graduate Degree in Patent Law: How to Break into the Field and What to Expect Once You Get There

Thursday, September 15, 2011, 6-7:30 p.m. in 5-134 - RSVP required

Who: Hong-Van Le (Course X) and Eileen Favley from Jones Day

Hong-Van Le, Ph.D., J.D., an alumna of MIT (course 10), is an Associate at Jones Day whose law practice specializes in advising clients in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries on patenting their inventions and evaluating patent estates. Van has a Ph.D. degree from Cornell University, Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Molecular and Cell Biology, and a J.D. degree from Fordham University. Eileen Falvey, Ph.D., J.D. is a Partner at Jones Day whose practice focuses on patent litigation and patent prosecution for clients in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and health sectors.  Eileen holds a Ph.D. degree from Yale University in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and a J.D. degree from Fordham University.

GSC Academic Career Series 2

The Nuts and Bolts of an Academic Job Search

Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 3:30-5:00 p.m. in 32-123 - View videotape

Considering an academic career? Wondering how to mount a successful job search in a highly competitive academic job market? Come and hear how others have done it. Nuts and Bolts of an Academic Job Search will feature faculty panelists who successfully landed a position. Speakers will outline an effective search strategy and discuss important elements of the process – finding opportunities of interest, preparing a strong applicaion, the role of your advisors, interviewing, negotiating, and how the increasingly competitive job market is changing the faculty search process. Refreshments will be served! Our panelists are:

  • Jeffrey Gore, Assistant Professor of Physics
  • Darrell Irvine, Associate Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science
  • Jeffrey Karp, Assistant Professor in Medicine & HST, Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, & Director, Laboratory for Advanced Biomaterials and Stem-Cell-Based Therapeutics, Brigham & Women’s Hospital

GSC Academic Career Series 1

Academia, Industry, or Both

Monday, July 25, 2011, 3:30-5:00 p.m. in 32-121 – Videotape (soon available)

Are you considering a career in academic or industry? Are you trying to decide between academia and industry? Come and hear experts whose experience and insight might help you make the decision easier. Refreshments will be served! Panelists include

  • Dr. Nathan Tedford, Research Scientist at MIT Biological Engineering
  • Dr. Anjali Sastry, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Dr. Livia Racz, Division Leader of Advanced Hardware Development at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory

GSC Professional Development Series 3

Finding Your Best Career Path: Hypothesis Testing at MIT and Beyond

Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 12-1:30 p.m. in 3-133 – RSVP required

Who: Dr. Marilyn Wilson, MIT Global Education and Career Development Office

Dr. Marilyn Wilson is Sr. Career Development Specialist at MIT’s Global Education & Career Development. She meets with PhD students about career matters, and develops career programs for graduate students. Please bring your questions—a portion of the talk will be dedicated to answering them! Lunch will be served.

GSC Professional Development Series 2

Dr. Mark Day and Careers in Computer Engineering

Tuesday, May 3, 2011, 7-8 p.m. in 4-231 – RSVP required; slides available

Dr. Mark Day is an MIT alum (Ph.D., ’95), and urrently he is the Chief Scientist at Riverbed Technology. He will talk about how he used his MIT education to establish his career in computer engineering. Please bring your questions – a portion of the talk will be dedicated to answering your questions! Dinner will be served

GSC Professional Development Series 1

Dr. Grunberg and Careers in High Tech

Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 7-8 p.m. in 6-120 – RSVP required

Daniel Grunberg is an alum of MIT (PhD, Course 6, 1986, LIDS). Currently he is the Vice President of Product Development and Co-Founder of Immedia Semiconductor. He will talk about entrepreneurship, high tech industry, Immedia, his career development, as well as career paths in high tech. Please bring your questions—a portion of the talk will be dedicated to answering your questions! Dinner will be served.

Other highlighted talks

“Interested in the Pharmaceutical Industry?”, February 17, 2011

John LaMattina, former head of Pfizer’s Global Research and Development, talks about the pharmaceutical industry, Pfizer, and his career development.

The talk is online in two parts: