Industry Exploration Days

Princeton GradFUTURES Industry Exploration Days: day-long site visits to expose graduate students to a wide range of organizations employing PhDs within the innovation ecosystem.

BMS Industry Exploration Day

Amy Pszczolkowski

Discovering the variety of opportunities available to Ph.D.s in a large pharmaceutical company like Bristol Myers Squibb was as impactful for the Princeton graduate students as learning about the drug discovery process itself during a day long visit to the R & D facility in Lawrenceville, NJ this fall.

When Tina Young, Associate Director in R & D Global Biometric Sciences at BMS reached out to inquire if there might be interest, she didn’t anticipate the overwhelming response from Princeton graduate students. Frankly, she wondered if anyone would show up.  Young writes, “We hoped this event at BMS would benefit graduate students and post docs who may be considering a career in industry or who may not necessarily know what lies ahead after graduation…most {of us} do not end up in a role directly related to our dissertation research and most do not stay in the same role, department or company for the rest of {our} working lives.”

Throughout the day, graduate students met with company leaders including Dr. Salil Patel, VP and Head of Precision Medication at Bristol Myers-Squibb who gave an overview of the organization and drug discovery process. In his own fourteen-year career at BMS, he has been able to move around the company and has held five positions including leading Worldwide, and US medical and the Translational Research and Development teams. Graduate students were exposed to different functional areas of the organization through concurrent sessions culminating in a networking lunch with over thirty staff including several Princeton graduate alumni currently working at BMS.

To wrap up the day, BMS arranged tours throughout their Bioanalytical Science Lab, Leads Discovery & Optimization Lab and Vivarium. A graduate student participant commented, “There is lot of opportunity for movement around the company, and there are a lot of positions in a pharma company that I didn’t realize existed.”  Being able to see inside an organization’s culture and research environment and compare that to the experience of research in academia is invaluable for graduate student’s career decision-making process.  

More Industry Exploration Days are being planned across other fields to continue to expose Princeton graduate students to the many diverse paths their Ph.D.s may lead then to.