Biotech Career Development Program

Program Description

The Biotech Career Development Program (BCDP), formerly the Biotech Career Exploration Program, is a structured program to educate, train, and provide career exposure to many aspects of biotechnology outside of the traditional academic tenure-track faculty position.

There will be two sessions per month (each one hour in length, generally). One of the monthly sessions will be a panel discussion focused on different career sectors. The other session will be focused on skill building. All of the sessions will run Thursday afternoons in a fully virtual setting.

We are accepting applications from graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career scientists from life science programs.

Throughout the program, trainees will engage in a series of workshops, seminars, and panel discussions to explore career options and prepare for an experiential learning opportunity with an on-campus unit, small business startup, large corporation, non-profit organization, governmental agency, law firm, or any additional non-academic entity.  

Program Participants:

  • Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career scientists

Participant Objectives:

  • Identify and explore non-academic career options based on your interest
  • Develop desirable employment skills based on specific competencies

Program Objectives:

  • Provide a structured and collaborative skill development and experiential learning placement program for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career scientists from life science programs
  • Offer non-academic employers access to trained students, fellows, and early-career scientists and serve as a single point of contact for workforce recruitment and development in the life sciences.

Program Overview

Phase I: Career Exploration and Skill Building

Themed career panels, workshops, and seminars will provide participants with a greater understanding of non-academic career options and core skills required to be successful.  In addition, participants will meet regularly as a cohort to conduct additional career research and share experiences.

Career Exploration Panels

University Administration, Staff, and Support

  • Technology Transfer
  • Research Administration
  • FFMI Business Development
  • Research Commercialization
  • Clinical Trial Management
  • Research Analyst

Consultant /Nonprofit and Government/Other

  • Management
  • FDA Regulatory
  • IP Law
  • Science Policy

Small Biotech Startups

  • Research & Development
  • Business Development

Large Corporations

  • Research and Development
  • Medical Science liaison
  • Product Manager
  • Application Scientist
  • Clinical Trial Management

Experiential Learning & Skill Building Seminars

A monthly seminar to gain critical skills in advance of an experiential learning opportunity.

Communication (Oral & Written)

Time & Project Management

Leadership & Teamwork

Commercial Acumen

Self-branding & Promotion

Phase II: Experiential Learning

At the conclusion of Phase I, participants can choose to pursue an experiential learning opportunity that best fits their desired career trajectory and current academic obligations based on available options.

Additional Information

Program Expectations

  • Participants are required to attend all of Phase I – a monthly career exploration panel and skill building seminar – totaling two events per month.
  • Participants can choose to pursue an experiential learning opportunity during Phase II that will vary based on the availability and expectations of the host site.  It is up to the individual participant to work directly with the host site on final details.
  • As a result, Phase II is encouraged, but not required for successful completion of the program.  Participants are required to write a reflection document and deliver a presentation on their participation in the program.
  • Participants will receive a certificate of completion.

Cost – There is no cost to participate in the program

A virtual information session will be held before the application process begins. 


Learn how the Biotech Career Development Program provided Jackee Sanchez, Ph.D., a graduate of the U-M pharmacology program, with professional skills training and guided career exploration beyond the traditional academic tenure-track faculty route.

“I got an idea of the top three or four careers that I wanted to explore further by hearing from other professionals through the program,” said Sanchez. “I then forged connections with people in those positions and it led to the next steps in my career, landing me where I am today at AstraZeneca.” READ FULL ARTICLE.

Alumni Experiences

74 Alumni Participants

  • 11 are active in miLEAD Consulting/Michigan Graduate Consulting Club
  • 6 are active in the Wolverine Venture Fund/Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund
  • 4 secured fellowships/internships
  • 11 landed jobs

Job Titles of Past Participants

  • Clinical Data Analyst (industry)
  • Research Specialist (academic)
  • Research Scientist (industry)
  • 2 Engineers (industry)
  • Sales Associate (industry)
  • Technical Specialist (law firm)
  • Senior Program Manager (foundation)
  • Clinical Marketing Specialist (industry)

“Assignments created accountability and certainly helped my progress, the structured access to relevant information is hard to find elsewhere.”

“The program provided me with goals and deadlines for my career development.”

Biotech Career Development Program Steering Committee

Maggie Gardner, Ph.D.
Academic Program Manager for STEM Professional Development
Rackham Graduate School

Jon Servoss, M.S.
FFMI Commercialization Program Director
Fast Forward Medical Innovation

Kathleen Ropella-Panagis, Ph.D.
Program Manager
Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

Biotech Career Development Program 2022 Alumni Planning Committee

Tracy Fetterly, Ph.D.
Department of Pharmacology
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

“BCDP was a great opportunity to dedicate time to finally explore all my potential career opportunities without feeling overwhelmed by the different options. The program helped me to feel confident moving forward with networking and knowing what steps I need to take to achieve my career goals.”


The Biotech Career Development Program is provided by FFMI, Rackham Graduate School, and the UMMS Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. For questions, please contact Jon Servoss at


Fast Forward Medical Innovation                                                                   

August 4, 2022