By: Yazmin I. Rovira Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins Alumna
Sometime during my third year of graduate school, I started to realize that I needed to develop my professional skills in order to establish a career in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industry after graduation. A few of the professional skills that I wanted to improve included networking with experts outside of academia, planning and managing events, collaborating with fellow classmates, and communicating scientific matters to various audiences.
I was able to grow on each of the aforementioned skills by becoming a member of the Hopkins Biotech Network (HBN) at the Johns Hopkins University. HBN is a nonprofit organization composed of graduate students and postdocs, biotech and pharma industry experts, and entrepreneurs that have one goal in mind: to help people network and become familiar with the vast spectrum of opportunities in biotechnology. HBN members seek to bridge the gap between graduate and medical students to the greater scientific and commercial communities, including industry, academia, and government.
Let’s say that you decide to join HBN because you want to enhance your understanding of the biotechnology industry, cutting-edge technologies, and all aspects of bio-entrepreneurship. What can you do to fully take advantage of what this organization has to offer?
Networking: One way to easily gain exposure to a meaningful network of industry professionals is to participate in the JHU Biotech/Pharma Industry Mentor Match Program. HBN in conjunction with Hopkins’ Professional Development and Career Office and the CASSS organization, manages this program with the goal of exposing PhD students and postdocs to a community of biopharma, academic, and regulatory professionals.
Additionally, HBN has many alumni that entered professional careers outside of academia as scientists, managers, entrepreneurs, consultants, and regulatory reviewers. Another easy way to start networking is to contact current and previous HBN members to better understand how to successfully transition into a career of your choice. If you have any questions about the Mentor Match Program and/or how to connect with HBN’s alumni network, please contact Alana MacDonald, Co-Director of HBN’s Alumni Relations branch.
Lastly, the Entrepreneurship Mentorship Program (EMP) at HBN is also a perfect way to learn about entrepreneurship and connect with local entrepreneurial peers and experienced mentors.
You can also check out the following local communities and resources that may help you begin networking professionally:
- Maryland Tech Council
- Maryland Department of Commerce
- BioHealth Capital Region
- The Professional Development Program offers free professional development modules for Hopkins graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
Planning and Managing Events: In industry, it is important to know how to organize meetings and presentations, whether they’re in-person or online. HBN has fantastic opportunities for members to take the lead on these tasks not only by allowing you to suggest an event that covers a specific topic, but also by allowing you to suggest a schedule and potential outcome from it. For example, if you wanted to learn how to plan for an event and even manage part of it, you could contact current HBN president W. Taylor Cottle and ask him how you could help with the upcoming Bridge to Biotech or the BioPitch opportunities, organized by HBN’s Entrepreneurship branch. Even if you’re not totally interested in consulting as a career, being able to help with planning and managing this and/or other future HBN events will ultimately look good in your resume and provide you with the toolkit needed to succeed in your industry career. Some of the skills you will gain by helping out with HBN even planning and managing are summarized in the table below.
Collaborating: As an HBN member, you will have the opportunity to participate in board meetings as well as all-organization meetings where you will be kept up to date on the status of current and future events and you can collaborate with cross-functional groups in order to accomplish a goal. For example, if you need help with finding a speaker for an event you have in mind, the HBN Alumni Relations members would be able to suggest a list of candidates. An alternative way to collaborate with fellow classmates is to help the Industry Relations branch of HBN plan a visit to a local biotech company (e.g. Astra Zeneca). Feel free to contact Industry Relations Directors Joseph Kim and/or Heng-wen (Alison) Liu if you would like to practice your collaboration skills.
Communicating Science: If you go to any event (e.g. scientific conference, workshop, NIH webcast, etc.), HBN would love for you to share your experience and let our growing biotech community know what you learned from it via our Transcript blog. The best part is that you can practice your writing skills and the event doesn’t even have to be hosted by HBN, you just have to have a desire to communicate science with others! Whether you attended a Zoom conference or interviewed a fellow scientist, our Editors at Co-Editors at The Transcript would love to read what you have to say. If you’re interested in practicing your communication skills, discuss topic ideas and write a synopsis of any event or topic and send it to HBN Editor Jenna Glatzer and/or Co-Editor Yazmin I. Rovira Gonzalez, Ph.D. for review and posting.
If you have any other question about HBN or how being a member could benefit your career, don’t hesitate to contact any of its current/former team members. I hope that this article provided some ideas on how you could benefit from joining HBN. See you soon at future HBN events, virtually or otherwise!