The idea for Carolina Biotech Group (CBG) was first conceived by two graduate students – Stephen Iwanowycz and Christian Graves – who saw a problem with their experience as PhD Candidates at the University of South Carolina. While they both had great academic mentors and were participating in cutting edge research, they also both had aspirations to pursue careers outside of academia, but their programs and advisers were primarily equipped to train them for the traditional academic career path. They envisioned an organization that could complement academic coursework and research experience with industry experience, “soft skills”, and other resources necessary for students to carve out their own career paths.
After a couple initial informational meetings, Christian and Stephen quickly realized that there are plenty of other students who see the same issues and want to take their future into their own hands. Over the last year and a half, CBG has grown from those two founders to over 40 official members. These members span numerous disciplines – law, business, science, engineering, and more – as one of the core tenets of CBG is that putting smart, motivated, diverse individuals together is one of the best ways to solve problems and mutually benefit all involved. As such, CBG is open to any student or young professional with an interest in biotechnology, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, or healthcare industries, whether or not they have any experience in those areas.
In today’s job market, there are a huge range of jobs available to graduate students in biotech and related fields. At CBG, our goal is not to tell students which career path they should pursue. Instead, our goal is to educate students on the (many!) career paths available and empower them to be successful in whichever path they choose. This means that CBG is actively pursuing a wide range of programs and services for our members: consulting projects, entrepreneurship resources, seminar speakers, networking events, and educational opportunities.
For example, gaining real-world experience through consulting projects was one of the first ideas that CBG’s founders had for the organization. Based on a company’s individual needs, we put together a team of CBG members whose skills and interests match the project, and over the course of 2-3 months the team works together to finish the project and produce a final deliverable for the “client” company. This free service provides students the opportunity to work in a company setting, apply their specific skills, and network with companies whom they might wish to work for after graduation.
As another example, CBG is debuting an entrepreneurship series where students with an interest in starting their own company – either now or in the future – can learn from the experience of seasoned veterans, get connected with advisers, and connect with other young entrepreneurs of similar mindset.
Most importantly, we encourage all graduate students to take their future in their own hands, and, if you think CBG can help you with that journey, we invite you to learn more at www.carolinabiotechgroup.com.
David Prim is a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at the University of South Carolina and Vice President of Carolina Biotech Group.
Questions? Comments? Ideas? Contact Dr. Heather Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.