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Biotech Summer Program Graduates Prepare to Launch Industry Careers

As Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)’s latest Master of Business and Science (MBS) graduates prepare to launch careers in the biotech industry, many can directly trace their journeys to participation in KGI’s free biotech summer program, Careers Beyond the Bench (CBB).

CBB provides skills and professional development opportunities for students interested in careers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, or other biomedical product industries. Participants learn about business skills and career opportunities in the biomedical sector, providing an edge for pursuing science-based careers beyond the bench.

Stephanie Lee, MBS ‘21, was one of 12 former CBB students in the MBS graduating class of 2021. Lee is returning to Amgen full-time this summer after an internship in Amgen’s operational leadership program. She recommends this year’s program to others facing similar questions.

“Although I held many leadership roles at UCLA, CBB helped me hone my leadership and teamwork skills related to the biopharma industry,” Lee said. “Working in team settings, I not only learned a lot about myself and my style of leadership but also what is most effective in different contexts.”

Tyler Nellos recently completed her first year in the MBS program and will be interning for Merck in Pennsylvania this summer. After graduating from the University of Redlands in 2020, Nellos participated in last year’s CBB program, and it helped the New Mexico native decide what to do next.

“At the time, my only knowledge on career options in the bioscience industry were sales positions in either pharmaceutical or medical devices,” Nellos said.

“I had no idea of the wide variety of paths and career options that existed. In only three weeks, CBB exposed me to a wide range of such options.”

Shahil Patel, MBS ’21, graduated earlier this month and began his career as a healthcare consultant at Cello Consulting. His participation in the CBB program in 2019 exposed him to a wide range of career opportunities.

“These were unique opportunities to learn about the day-to-day life of successful life science professionals,” Patel said. “More importantly, I was able to imagine myself in these roles to understand better if they were right for me.”

Two industry veterans used the 2020 CBB program to transition to their first year in the MBS program. Kevin Maxkwee, a University of California, San Diego graduate originally from Indonesia, underestimated the program’s rigor.

“Coming with more than four years of experience in the biotech industry, I was skeptical of the program and thought it would be a walk in the park,” he said. “However, the deadlines and need to pick up new skills challenged both my organizational and leadership skills.”

Similarly, Vanessa Patrao used the CBB and the MBS programs to switch from her marketing experience at Dow and DuPont in India to a finance internship at Gilead, a leading biotech firm in San Francisco.

“As an international student from India, the best part of the CBB program was to have a group of faculty and staff who wanted to help me succeed.”

Careers Beyond the Bench will take place virtually this summer over two sessions: June 14-July 2 and July 5-16. In the first session, student teams will evaluate the clinical and economic benefits of a proposed oncology in vitro diagnostic. In the second session, students will research FDA policies for Orphan Drug Designations and present a proposed therapy for a specific rare disease.

Each session will also include team projects and presentations that will build upon instruction in scientific, business, and regulatory topics by KGI faculty. Students will also attend a series of nine semiweekly talks by KGI alumni on various career opportunities, including marketing, project management, finance, and regulatory affairs.

A second biotech summer program is being offered at KGI this summer: The Biotech Careers Speaker Series (BCSS). Beginning June 15 and running through July 16, BCSS is particularly suited for those with summer jobs or graduating after 2022. Like CBB, BCSS will introduce students to potential careers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other biomedical industries.

Application deadlines for both summer programs are quickly approaching. For more information and to apply, visit