The Postdoc link between entrepreneurship and industry at Stanford University

In the United States, majority of Postdoctoral scholars move to positions in “Alternate careers” outside academia. The fundamental challenge for academic-postdocs to explore non-academic careers is their lack of connections in industry and the scarcity of information about such careers. Aiming to address these challenges, a group of Stanford postdocs founded the Association of Industry-Minded Scholars (AIMS) in 2010. The mission of AIMS has been to provide a platform for postdocs to actively seek information regarding leadership positions and entrepreneurial careers outside of academia.

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The AIMS leadership team consists of postdocs who volunteer to provide their peers a broad overview of potential careers. By doing so, they also gain the experience of working in a setting outside their laboratory. During the eight years of its service at Stanford University, AIMS has hosted more than 80 events attracting more than 6,500 participants. These events include seminars or panels with speakers from a wide variety of career paths such as biotech industry, venture capitalist, scientific writing, law, regulatory affairs, and medical device industry. AIMS also hosts happy hours with postdocs, PhD students and AIMS alumni who pursued various career paths in industry. The value of networking for getting hired is a well-known fact. Thus, it is essential to generate more and more opportunities of networking. Stanford University understands this need for networking and the potential of postdoc organizations such as AIMS to help satisfy this need. AIMS is funded by the Stanford University Postdoc Association (SURPAS) and also collaborate with the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) and the Stanford School of Medicine’s Bioscience career center. 

 

AIMS MyScienceWork

 

Sreejith Ramakrishnan (Shree) is the current president of AIMS. He joined Dr. Anne Villeneuve’s laboratory at Stanford University as a postdoc in Fall of 2014. Shree started to volunteer in AIMS leadership team since 2016 as a Financial officer and was chosen to be the President of AIMS in 2018. Although he is interested in academic research and teaching, he is exploring the idea of transitioning into industry. Shree says, “I realized by attending the career development programs offered at Stanford University and through informational interviews with industry professionals that networking is a very significant factor in getting interview calls from companies. The uniqueness of AIMS is its laidback networking events with industry professionals and the strong bond between AIMS members and its alumni who are very much involved in AIMS’s activities even after several years of their departure from Stanford University. Although AIMS is a postdoc-organization, graduate students and faculty also participate in its events”. AIMS was also selected to represent Stanford University at the National Postdoc Association (NPA) poster presentations for several times, where similar organizations from various universities across the United States exchanged their ideas on postdoc welfare.

 

 AIMS MyScienceWork

 

Future goals of AIMS are to host symposia and more networking events with industry professionals, collaborate with Stanford postdoc and student organizations to exchange ideas and build connections, improve the involvement of faculty at Stanford University to facilitate more open communication between faculty and postdocs about career options and improve the outreach of AIMS to harness the attention of recruiters and various companies around bay area and beyond.

Overall, the aim of AIMS is to empower postdocs by sharpening their tools needed to embark on their career journey outside of academia. AIMS is excited about its continued impact on the lives of several postdocs over the years. 

 
Sreejith Ramakrishnan, Ph.D. Postdoctoral researcher, Stanford University, CA.
 
President of AIMS
Postdoctoral researcher,
Stanford University, CA.