Have Skills, Will Travel: Why Attending Off-Campus Symposia is Good for Any BESTie’s Career

***This post was originally published in the BEST newsletter***

The New York State Biotechnology Symposium fosters the exchange of ideas between industry representatives and scientists, students, academics and other professionals interested in biotechnology.  Organizers of this annual conference work to develop synergies and relationships that further advance the field. It has a history of convening promising and innovative biotechnology companies and experts, both as speakers and participants.

Dr. Daniela Bocioaga. Image Provided by Susi Varvayanis

Several current and past BESTies have attended this May symposium over the years at the Gateway Center on the campus of SUNY-ESF in Syracuse and at Brookhaven National Labs on Long Island. Experiences of BESTies have varied from speaking in a biotechnology session alongside a faculty member and an industry representative, to presenting a prize winning poster. Another one of those was BEST alumna, Dr. Daniela Bocioaga, who now holds the title of Scientist at Rheonix, Inc in Ithaca, where she is involved in developing molecular diagnostic assay tools.  “Although I could only attend for one day, it was certainly a rich and memorable experience for me,” she reported.

Elvis Cao next to winning poster. Image accessed from the BEST News page.

Attendees at any conference like this hope to engage in networking with the other professionals. Sometimes there is little time built into the schedule for networking to happen. Daniela reported that was not the case with the Biotechnology Symposium.  “What struck me most at this symposium was a very good balance between the amount of time allotted to talks/presentations and that allotted for communication between the participants. At other conferences I attended, there would be days packed with talks and little time left to talk to anyone.  At this symposium, I actually had time to connect  with six (!!) different groups and there was still enough time allotted for scientific presentations.”

Daniela also reported that several of the professionals with whom she networked were Cornell alumni.  Among the stimulating conversations Daniela had were discussions with researchers representing environmental management and consulting, patent law in bioengineering, microbial biofuel production, and DNA diagnostic tools.  The breadth of professionals with whom Daniela networked indicates the broad utility of the symposium for any BESTies interested in biotechnology.  Click here for a summary of the keynote address.

Attending symposia outside of Cornell can help enlarge your range of connections, bring fresh perspectives to your research, increase your professional confidence and broaden your understanding of a sector. This knowledge, in turn, can help you leverage your PhD skills for positions in a career you desire. The network of new colleagues can then facilitate your job search, as Daniela found when she ultimately received a job offer following an informational interview conducted at the symposium she attended.

by Jody Enck