The SOT Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award allowed me to participate in the Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program (SMDP) and attend the SMDP conference. The SMDP is a one-year career mentoring program organized by the International Center for Professional Development that pairs ethnically diverse graduate students with industry mentors. The 2022 SMDP conference was held in San Diego, California, June 11–15. Our days were filled with career development workshops, including ones on salary negotiations, high impact resumes, cover letters, social networking, career choices, interview skills, mentoring, and skill development.
The two culminating events of the program were an on-site visit at Janssen Research & Development and attending the Bio International Convention. At Janssen, we visited the labs and spoke with senior scientists. Our tour guides informed us of the push for next-generation biotherapeutics and the importance of public policy to ensure that patients can access the developed treatments. Janssen’s mission is to make living with a disease outdated, and they challenged us to be a part of their mission to help people across the world live disease-free lives.
The Bio International Convention gave us access to chief executive officers and vice presidents of many Fortune 500 biotech companies. It also allowed us to attend presentations from smaller biotech firms to see what was in the pipeline for development. During the interactive sessions, we heard global leaders’ insights and how they addressed the linkage between science, business, and policy. Countries and companies from around the world attended the Bio International Convention and were eager to highlight their companies, innovative technologies, and research. I spoke to several companies and exercised the enhanced networking skills that I learned from the SMDP sessions earlier in the week.
Another significant aspect of being an SMDP scholar is mentorship. Each SMDP scholar was assigned a mentor for one year. My mentor is a Senior Director at Janssen Research & Development. We meet once a month to evaluate my career path and establish goals and steps to achieve an industry position. During a recent session, I shared two entry-level jobs in toxicology at consumer health companies with my mentor, and we compared my resume to the listings and made edits along the way to ensure that what I have done in school and my research is highlighted to match what the recruiters were seeking in a candidate. I am grateful for these growth opportunities and my increased network within the pharma industry.
Thank you, SOT, for selecting me as an SOT Diversity Initiatives Endowment Career Development Award recipient so that I can receive valuable training to pursue my chosen career in consumer health toxicology.