Program goals

Advance trainees’ abilities to shape and create career opportunities, and to become the stewards of (take ownership of) their careers:

  • Challenge them to explore and defend the real-world impact of their research
  • Develop capacity to talk about their work and themselves to diverse audiences
  • Increase their appreciation for different career paths, and for the mechanisms through which research progresses from the lab to real-world impact
  • Help them build, support, and use diverse professional networks
  • Craft pro-active strategies for their personal career development

Program elements

1. Group mentoring through the IMPACT Intensive

The IMPACT Intensive is the cornerstone of the program that addresses each of the goals through a dual intertwined focus on their research and career plans. By working together through longitudinal, highly interactive sessions, trainees develop meaningful, often lasting, relationships with professionally-diverse mentors. Sessions come in bursts, weekly sessions, generally separated by a gap of at least a month.

Focus Block 1
(4 sessions)
Block 2
(4 sessions)
Block 3
(2 sessions)
Block 4
(2 sessions)
Research path Analyze Investigate Validate Launch
Exploring and defending the real-world impact of your research Identify gaps in ability to articulate the “impact proposition” for your research Test the assumptions and impact proposition directly with diverse stakeholders Outline definitive evidence or study that would demonstrate the impact Present research “impact proposition” to diverse audiences
Career path Prepare Imagine Create Launch
Exploring and developing your personal career plan Craft an initial Independent Development Plan (IDP) Propose experiences to sharpen career development, including ideas for externships Learn to build, maintain, and benefit from a diverse network Develop opportunities and methods to execute IDP

 

2. One-to-one advising–personalized mentoring

One-to-one advising will be provided to support trainees in their exploration of potential career paths.

  • Professional Development Advisor: Each trainee will be assigned to at least one professional development advisor selected based on the career interests of the trainee. The advisor and trainee will meet every few months according to a mutually-determined schedule.
  • Externship exploration: Trainees are encouraged to develop an idea for an externship that would provide a short hands-on experience related to their professional development plan. In selected cases, it may be possible for trainees to actually do an externship.
  • Self-selected mentors: As part of their career development, all trainees will be encouraged to take the
    initiative to reach out for advice from those in their growing network.

IMPACT Intensive guide

The IMPACT Intensive sessions address the program goals by helping the trainees to explore along two threads: The real world impact of their research, and their personal career plan. As they are training for research-related careers, these two threads are intrinsically intertwined and interdependent. Nevertheless, the particular actions we take in exploring the two threads are a bit different, so it is helpful to consider them separately.

Focus on Research Path: Exploring and defending the real-world impact of their research

Block 1,  Analyze: Identify the gaps in ability to articulate the “impact proposition”

  • Discuss what having an impact means to them and what they would consider to be the “impact proposition” for their current work
  • Trainees present their research with a focus on making a case, outlining in specific terms, the need being addressed, and the consequent potential for impact
  • Mentors (and other trainees) highlight aspects of case that are missing or not well-supported; underscore the distinction between impact and attributes such as important, new, or improved
  • Consider the kinds of evidence and types of questions to pursue that would aid in supporting the impact proposition and how to craft a logical case

Block 2, Investigate: Test assumptions and the impact proposition directly with diverse stakeholders

  • Get out of the building/lab and interview stakeholders, including those who might be impacted, users, buyers, thought leaders, have competing approaches, etc.
  • Learn how to ask questions and listen and to incorporate these learnings into the case

Block 3, Validate: Outline definitive evidence or study that would demonstrate the impact of their research

  • Articulate what evidence is needed to ultimately prove the idea; Imagine and outline the definitive study
  • Assess feasibility of proving idea; what critical milestones are required to enable the definitive study
  • Serve as mentor to those in the Analyze Block (to more fully experience this form of critical analysis)

Block 4, Launch: Presenting research “impact proposition” to diverse audiences

  • Defend case before a sector-specific review panel (depending on the desired career of trainee)
  • Exposition: discuss research in a larger forum (e.g. in Rising Stars program described in Outreach or in a recruiting event)

Focus on Career Path: Exploring and developing their personal career plan

Block 1, Prepare: Craft an initial Independent Development Plan (IDP)

  • Complete the self-assessment, career exploration, and IDP preparation using the myIDP tool from Science Careers/AAAS
  • Practice short self-introductions, such as one might use in a networking situation

Block 2, Imagine: Propose experiences to sharpen career development

  • Meet with Professional Development Advisors (outside of session)
  • Map current professional network
  • Consider expertise and experiences to date, and create a short wish list of experiences or information that might help in laying out a career path; Propose specific actions that could address items on the wish list
  • Consider developing an idea for an externship that would provide a related short-term hands-on experience

Block 3, Create: Learn to build, maintain, and benefit from a diverse network

  • Meet with Professional Development Advisors (outside of session)
  • Discussion of networks and experiences thus far. Why do we care about networks? What do they do? How should they fit in a career plan?
  • Update network map

Block 4, Launch: Develop opportunities and methods to execute the IDP

  • Meet with Professional Development Advisors (outside of session)
  • Update proposed activities that would support their career development