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BCLA's 6th Annual STEM Student Summit

With the continued success of our STEM program over the past years, the BCLA team was excited to continue its tradition of hosting a separate event specifically designed for high school and undergraduate students in STEM. The STEM Student Summit this year was designed to develop career planning skills for students who are interested in pursuing a career in biotech and STEM fields.

This year, the event was held via virtual networking platform Remo, to ensure a safe and engaging experience in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though this was the first year that we have held the summit virtually, everyone quickly learned and adapted to the new format. The STEM Student Summit featured a career coach and an ice breaker networking game, followed by a virtual tour of Thermo Fisher and a career panel with breakout sessions.

The first part of the program, the Career Coach Workshop, was led by Esther Lanier, Senior Career Advisor at USC Career Center. This session aimed to educate students on key skills and traits required to excel in STEM, and the different forms of experiences and classes that they may engage in to develop those skills and traits. Esther provided useful information on how to be competitive when applying for positions in STEM, as well as information on how to navigate the internship landscape and find the best opportunities to develop a strong skill set for STEM jobs. The participants were then divided into breakout groups and had the opportunity to network and share their backgrounds, experiences, views, and professional goals.

The next segment was a career panel discussion moderated by Arthela Osorio, who is a Technical Application Specialist for the Transplant Diagnostics business of Thermo Fisher Scientific (TFS) as well as a BCLA advisory board member. Our panelists included Maria Mignogna, Senior Manager of Technical Operations; Jonathan Muhumuza, International Marketing Manager; Lucy Lindsey, Quality Assurance Manager; and Imelda Larcia, Supervisor of Manufacturing Sciences at TFS. The panelists with diverse career paths and backgrounds discussed their roles in the company, their education and the paths they took. Arthela engaged these panelists in a deep conversation about education and career opportunities in biotech, especially in Los Angeles. After the insightful panel discussion, students went back to the breakout groups and were invited to ask any questions that they had regarding career development. This format also gave the students time to interact with each other in a relaxing setting to help improve networking skills that are vital to the job search strategy.

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on everyone including the younger generation. However, BCLA’s mission stands to inspire, provide tools and prepare more high school students and undergraduates to go into the STEM field. BCLA’s 6th annual STEM Student Summit successfully concluded on Oct 24th, 2020 and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the speakers, panelists and volunteers for their dedication and passion to make this event happen. We also want to thank our attendees, and hope that everyone had a fun, educational and informative afternoon with us. We would like to invite you to join us next year, to be part of the driving force to make the younger generation excel in their STEM career paths! See you soon!

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