Science and Health Career Boot Camp gives students a leg up

  • Mar 17, 2016
  • Faculty & Staff, Research, Students, Biochemistry, Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics, Chemistry, CMSE, Human Medicine, Mathematics, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Physiology, Plant Biology, Plant Research Laboratory, Statistics & Probability

Students in a classroom

More than 200 MSU undergraduate students participated in this year's Science and Health Career Boot Camp.

Michigan State University’s third annual Science and Health Career Boot Camp was a resounding success, with more than 200 undergraduate students and more than 30 professionals and MSU alumni recently attending the day-long event at MSU’s Biomedical and Physical Sciences Building.

The annual event is designed for undergraduate students to learn more about career pathways in science and health, interact with alumni and professionals in the field, and get a unique level of exposure to industry. The boot camp is unique in that its focus is on bringing a significant number of alumni and professionals back to campus all at once to share their career advice with students.

According to Chris Sell, coordinator of the event and internship coordinator for the College of Natural Science, the program is perfect for any student who is interested in exploring the wide spectrum of career fields in which they can use their degree in science and health.

“The Science and Health Career Boot Camp is a dynamic event because it connects accomplished alumni from a variety of fields and industries with undergraduate students who are interested in learning more about careers in the STEM fields,” said Sell, who also is finishing his final term as past president of the Michigan Career Educator and Employer Alliance. “We continue to be impressed by the fact that more than 200 undergraduate students choose to give up most of their Saturday to be at this program. Clearly, this event is meeting a significant need for our students.”

Workshops included insights into industries such as a research and development, health and wellness, environment and sustainability, and more. Students also had the pleasure of listening to a panel comprised of accomplished professionals who have leveraged their science and health studies to carve out creative or dynamic careers. Panelists included Erik Larson, executive director of Impression 5 Science Center; Justin Grinnell, owner of State of Fitness;  Walker Modic, sustainability specialist, Bell’s Brewery; and Michelle Sommer, recreational therapist at Willowbrook Rehabilitation Services.

In addition, Jonathan Schimmel (’91, biological science), president at Seegeene Technologies, Inc., located in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, gave the keynote address. Schimmel shared his lessons learned from personal and professional experiences – including more than 20 years of experience in sales operations, customer services, market communications, and executive management in the life science industries. He illustrated how his willingness to take on new challenges throughout his career led to new opportunities and unprecedented success.

Students interested in getting more hands-on career development assistance stayed after the formal conclusion of the event and participated in optional career workshops focused on resume writing, networking, and finding internships or undergraduate research opportunities at MSU.

Participating students found great benefit in the information and networking opportunities provided at the boot camp.

Danielle Niklas, an MSU junior double majoring in microbiology and genomics and molecular genetics said that what was most valuable to her was the insight that a successful career in health and science can be diverse, dynamic and unexpected.

“I feel that many health and science majors are pressured into a single professional track such as medicine or physician’s assistant without knowing of the many different careers available in health and science,” Niklas said. “It was encouraging to discover career options previously unknown to me and also to engage with successful professionals who had not strictly planned out their career path.”

Delaney O’Brien, a first year premed student at MSU, also appreciated learning about the full array of science career opportunities available to pursue.

“The most important thing I got out of the Science and Health Career Boot Camp was that there are many careers in the science field that don't have anything to do with medical field,” O’Brien said.  “It’s important for students pursing science careers to realize that medical school isn't the only option. The panelists at the boot camp proved this to be true.”

Led by the College of Natural Science, in collaboration with staff from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lyman Briggs College and the College of Education (Kinesiology), the Science and Health Career Boot Camp is one of several premier events offered throughout the academic year to MSU students interested in getting more exposure to careers in science and health.

For more information on career exploration, student employment, internships or other experiential learning opportunities, visit: 

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