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Encouraging Grads to Pursue Biotech Careers

September 05, 2003

Biotechnology is one of the few tech-sectors in which jobs still seem to be in strong demand despite the weak economy, according to local news reports from around the country. As a result, many states, communities and universities have directed a portion of their economic development efforts toward encouraging life sciences research and biotech commercialization. Two of the more recent initiatives launched in Michigan and Maryland have the similar goal of encouraging recent and future college graduates to pursue careers locally in the growing fields.


MiCareer, a new e-newsletter from the MichBio BioConnections Program, is intended to help college students in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio in their career search process. BioConnections is a collaborative effort between industry partners for life sciences recruiting, business and workforce development in Michigan, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). With the first issue planned for early this month, MiCareer will serve as a one-stop-shop for 17,000 juniors and seniors in the Midwest once it is up and running. Students subscribing to the e-newsletter figure to benefit from tips in job hunting, resume writing and networking. The Washtenaw Development Council (WDC), which also administers the BioConnections Internship Program, is developing life sciences career content for this year's issues of MiCareer.

In addition to MEDC and WDC, BioConnections partners include STATPROBE, a full-service staffing firm, Search Masters International (SMI), a scientific and executive retained search firm, and BioSpace, a web resource for jobs, news and information for the life sciences market. BioConnections is funded by a three-year, $1.6 million grant from the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor and is administered by MichBio, the state association for life sciences companies.


In Baltimore, a hands-on, student-industry partnership has grown rapidly to include more than 600 members since its founding in January 2003. The Hopkins Biotech Network (HBN), a nonprofit organization at Johns Hopkins University (JHU), is designed to be a primary source of education, networking and career development for all individuals within JHU interested in the development and business of biotechnology.

HBN received seed money from the JHU Graduate Representative Organization last April and has also received support through a generous contribution from an anonymous alumnus of the biotechnology program. Since then, it has given members the chance to participate in many network-sponsored seminars and lectures, encouraging interaction with alumni, faculty and industry professionals. HBN's most recent meeting included a presentation on how to start a biotech firm and work with venture capitalists.

Like the MichBio Bioconnections Program, HBN provides biotechnology news via e-mail, and membership in the network is free of charge. In the daily HBN Journal, members can obtain information addressing venture capital firms, law firms and area biotech companies, as well as access to career information and job postings. Members also can find information through the network's online message board, which serves as a forum for students from different JHU campuses.