Monday, November 21, 2011

Feedback on the D.C. Field Trip

As the organizer of the recent Science Policy Careers Field Trip to Washington, D.C., co-hosted by the Yale Student Science Diplomats and Yale's office of Graduate Career Services, I was SO excited to get feedback from the attendees about the trip!

Here's what some people had to say:
"I thought the event was really great overall -- very well-organized and good, informed speakers." 
"It was so informative and interesting." 
"We hit a pretty wide variety of actual careers/things people do/types of institutions people work at.  It was a great assortment, didn't feel like the same person/job over and over and over again." 
"I thoroughly enjoyed everything especially the visit to the NAS [National Academy of Sciences]. They gave great information on how best to obtain a policy fellowship."

I got some of the best feedback from our trip to the Pentagon:

"I had no idea there were so many jobs for PhDs at the Pentagon." 
"These people seemed to really focus their discussion on stuff that was pertinent."

And many also liked the panel from the National Academies:

"This was a really interesting career path that I wasn't even really aware of ... and this group seemed super enthusiastic."

This panel was supremely well-organized by Dr. Bill Berry, Director of the Board on Global Science and Technology Policy in the Department of Policy and Global Affairs at NAS. He made sure the speakers, who were all current and former Mirzayan Fellows, gave us "a good feel for the work they do on a daily basis and the type of people they hire."

One of the best things he did, though, was to skeddadle once we'd settled in. As one student noted, "This was great. The guy who left us with his underlings all alone needs a metal."

I also got some really helpful suggestions for next time, for example to give our panelists an outline of prepared questions so panelists don't ramble too much. We'll also try to invite more Yale alums to the cocktail party and to spend more time learning about think tanks. And while many people were really excited to hear from AAAS fellows, others were disappointed that we spent so much time on a fellowship only open to US citizens ("great if you were eligible…and less helpful if you were not").

Overall, this was a solid experience that opened up a lot of opportunities and connections for us. Networking aside, just learning about the fellowship opportunities, and seeing where we might eventually end up down the road, was exciting. Who knew there were so many jobs for PhDs in DC?

-Elizabeth Winograd-Cort
6th year MCDB PhD candidate
President of Yale Student Science Diplomats

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