• Jessie Xiaoya Ma

BCLA's Bioscience Talent Connection: Career Development Workshops


At BCLA, we continue to dedicate our mission in contributing to the biotech ecosystem in the LA area. In 2021, instead of a one day event for our annual Bioscience Talent Connection (BTC), we presented a career month, consisting of three weekly career development workshops and a half day career fair. Here, we summarized the key takeaways from each workshop to help you prepare for our career fair taking place on February 26, 2021.


On Thursday, February 4th, 2021, we held the first workshop of the weekly Career Month workshop series focusing on CV Workshop with Scismic. This workshop was led by Helen Vong, VP of Business Development, along with Elizabeth Wu and Danika Khong who are co-founders, and Erin McKay, a Scientific Outreach Specialist at Scismic. They shared their professional insights on how to make a job seekers’ CV stand out during the virtual job search. Helen pointed out that the key factors in CV screening include lab techniques and research fields, experiences, project leadership as well as publications and presentations. Therefore, it is important to tailor your CV for each job applied, stating why you fit the specific position, and matching the language of the job description. One example was to state your motivations and research fields, scientific accomplishments, and top soft skills such as time management, presentation, communication, and collaboration in the summary section.


Our second workshop, “Effective Interviewing: Tips and Strategies to Ace your next Virtual Interview,” featured Dr. Roshni Rao, Director of Career Services at Johns Hopkins University. There, she works to develop a plan for enhancing the professional development, life design, alumni connections, employer engagement, and career opportunities for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. During the workshop, she provided strategies to set you up for a successful virtual interview. Much of her advice revolved around language use to answer common interview questions, which you should practice beforehand, and how to navigate the discussion in your favor.


The last career development workshop of BTC was held on Wednesday, February 17th, and revolved around “Maximizing your Online Networking Experience”. We were honored to have Octavio Avila, the Director of USC Dornsife Career Pathways, who has over 20 years of experience in career and academic advisement, admission, and institutional leadership. He shared career fair strategies that focus on how to effectively network online, establish your personal branding on social media, and craft an elevator pitch. Some key takeaways include personal brand (values, uniqueness and reputation), and practice congruity. Octavio gave away a very unique networking strategy called FORD, a safe conversation method, which stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams. With this event, we concluded our three-part career development workshop series and hope that our audience can utilize the strategies discussed at our career fair on February 26th.


It is one thing to have solid academic experiences but another thing to sell yourself in the job market. Our month long career workshops take you on an educational journey of successfully navigating the job application process. BCLA hopes this series of information-dense and constructive workshops provided you with a new perspective on pursuing your dream job. We hope that you now have a well polished CV, are equipped with ace interview skills, and are ready to network at our exciting Bioscience Talent Connection Career Fair on Friday, February 26th, 2021.





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