Support The World's Smartest Network

Help the New York Academy of Sciences bring late-breaking scientific information about the COVID-19 pandemic to global audiences. Please make a tax-deductible gift today.

This site uses cookies.
Learn more.


This website uses cookies. Some of the cookies we use are essential for parts of the website to operate while others offer you a better browsing experience. You give us your permission to use cookies, by continuing to use our website after you have received the cookie notification. To find out more about cookies on this website and how to change your cookie settings, see our Privacy policy and Terms of Use.

We encourage you to learn more about cookies on our site in our Privacy policy and Terms of Use.

Making the Leap: A Non-Academic Career Planning and Job Search Boot Camp

Making the Leap: A Non-Academic Career Planning and Job Search Boot Camp

Friday, March 11, 2016 - Saturday, March 12, 2016

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By


Join us for Science Alliance's highly anticipated 2-day career planning boot camp! Making the Leap is designed to help demystify the non-academic job search process and teach young scientists how to explore different career paths, how to evaluate the skills required for those careers, and successfully prepare and apply for potential jobs. This event is targeted to students and postdocs in the STEM fields who are planning to enter the job market in the next 12 to 18 months and are considering non-academic careers; other scientific career changers are also welcome to attend.

This interactive program will feature the following interactive workshops:

  • Networking effectively to develop a professional network and find jobs
  • Tactical advice to maximize your chances of securing a job through networking opportunities
  • Panel Discussion: Beyond the PhD: Realities of the Job Market
  • CV and Resume Writing for Non-academic Jobs
  • Writing the Cover Letter
  • Preparing for Interviews outside Academe
  • Negotiating the Job Offer
  • Networking reception

This event is only offered once a year and it can only accommodate a limited number of participants, so don't miss your chance to get a comprehensive overview of all the critical nuts and bolts of career planning.

Prior to attending this event, all participants are encouraged to complete an Individual Development Plan at

Lunch is provided on both days and there will be a networking reception at the end of Day 1.

This two-day event is being organized and hosted by the Science Alliance program of the New York Academy of Sciences. Science Alliance provides career education, development, and training for graduate students and postdocs in the sciences and serves 8,000 young scientists from over forty partner organizations located in the New York metropolitan area, nationally, and around the globe.


The last three years of this workshop have included 236 PhD students, postdocs, and professionals in attendance. Some of the excellent feedback included:

The course helped me to feel more comfortable with the careers I was exploring and opened up a few avenues I hadn't before considered.

The workshop (Making the Leap 2015) was in general very educational. I feel I have a better idea of what is out there in the non-academic fields after attending it. The panel session and talking with the panel members in person was very helpful. The networking, resume writing and interview sessions were informative. Most importantly, it was great to meet some fellow PhD students and post docs from diverse academic fields. It's always reassuring to find and interact with people who are going through the same phase in life.

Information we would not get fast in such a competent way. I loved it. I will definitely recommend the course to others. Thank you!

The workshop helped me become more confident, by the sheer fact that knowing "I'm not alone", there are others who feel the same way, or felt the same way and made the leap.

The workshop gave a great overview of many aspects of the job search process. It was wonderful to cover so many topics, and understand how they relate to each other. Thank you for organizing this!

(Making the Leap) It not only gives you a complete picture of the job search process but also gets you started on building your professional network.

The Making the Leap bootcamp was a great opportunity to learn about careers outside of academia, to network with other students and postdocs, and to learn how to prepare for getting a non-academic job. Due to the price, I was very hesitant to attend Making the Leap, but after having been, I would recommend everyone I know to attend! I feel much less anxious about starting a non-academic career, and I know that I have a much better chance at not only getting an interview, but starting a career that I will enjoy! The Science Alliance put on a great program with lots of great information. I plan on attending more of their programs in the future.

This 2-day workshop was a real eye-opener. It differs from other job workshops in that it caters specifically to science PhDs, and offers details on how to conduct a job search on a day-to-day basis. We’ve all heard about the importance of networking, but this workshop tells you how to network. For writing resumes, it tells you how to get the right intel on a company before you write a resume geared toward it. Essentially, Making the Leap explains what you need to know before you leap.

Registration Pricing

Member (Student / Postdoc)$175
Nonmember (Student / Postdoc )$225


* Tentative Schedule. Presentation times are subject to change.

Day One — Friday, March 11, 2016

9:00 AM

Registration and Coffee

9:30 AM

Introduction and Overview
Yaihara Fortis Santiago, PhD, The New York Academy of Sciences

10:00 AM

Tactical Advice to Identify and Sell Your Skills to Future Employers
Yaihara Fortis Santiago, PhD, The New York Academy of Sciences
Mónica Feliú Mójer, PhD, Ciencia Puerto Rico & iBiology

11:00 AM

Coffee Break

11:10 AM

Effective Communication as a Tool to Secure a Job
Mónica Feliú Mójer, PhD, Ciencia Puerto Rico & iBiology

12:00 PM

Networking Effectively to Find a Job
Mónica Feliú Mójer, PhD, Ciencia Puerto Rico & iBiology

1:00 PM

Networking Lunch

2:00 PM

Assesing Your Current Network and Building a Professional Network
Mónica Feliú Mójer, PhD, Ciencia Puerto Rico & iBiology
Yaihara Fortis Santiago, PhD, The New York Academy of Sciences

3:00 PM

Coffee Break

3:15 PM

Panel Discussion: Beyond the PhD — Realities of the Job Market
Panelists:Caitlin McOmish, PhD – Program Manager, The New York Academy of Sciences
Avalon Garcia, PhD – Senior Medical Writer, BGB Group
Paul-André Genest, PhD – Associate Publisher, Elsevier
Nancy Ilaya, PhD – Manager of Scientific Affairs at Estee Lauder
Tejinder Kaur, PhD – Medical Director at Healthcare Consultancy Group
Marcus Kelly, PhD – Staff Scientist at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Nicholas DeLillo Jr., PhD – Director, Medical and Scientific Affairs at AXON

4:00 PM

Roundtables with Panelists

5:00 PM


6:00 PM

Day One Close

Day Two — Saturday, March 12, 2016

9:00 AM

Registration and Coffee

9:30 AM

Navigating the Job Search Process
Yaihara Fortis Santiago, PhD, The New York Academy of Sciences

9:45 AM

CV and Resume Writing for Non-academic Jobs

11:15 AM

Coffee Break

11:30 AM

Writing the Cover Letter

12:45 PM

Working Lunch

1:30 PM

Preparing for Interviews Outside Academe

3:30 PM

Coffee Break

3:45 PM

Negotiating the Job Offer
Amy L. Pszczolkowski, Princeton University

5:15 PM


5:30 PM



Yaihara Fortis Santiago, PhD

The New York Academy of Sciences

Dr. Yaihara Fortis Santiago is the manager of the Science Alliance, the professional development branch of the New York Academy of Sciences. Yaihara develops and implements innovative workshops and courses that provide early career scientists with a range of soft and business skills that will be essential for all careers. Yaihara also gives seminars on career development and exploration at many of the partner institutions of Science Alliance; and works closely with career development offices and student and postdoc organizations to consolidate resources and implement new ideas for professional development programing. Yaihara is a former AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow and she worked at the National Science Foundation (NSF) during her fellowship assignment.

Dr. Fortis obtained her bachelors' degree in Biology from University of Puerto Rico and her doctoral degree in Neuroscience from Brandeis University. Her doctoral work focused in studying the role of multisensory integration in taste processing. Yaihara can be found on Twitter @yfortiss.


Rudy Bellani, PhD


Rudy Bellani is co-founder and CEO of Oystir, a company dedicated to helping PhDs find non-academic jobs at no cost to them. Oystir has also partnered with numerous research universities to help them understand the skill development, skill gaps, and career opportunities of their graduate students and postdocs. Prior to Oystir, Rudy was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he served pharmaceutical, education, and technology clients, specializing in innovation and talent development strategies including how to identify and hire talent from non-traditional backgrounds. In addition to his client work, Rudy helped lead PhD recruiting for McKinsey's New York office. Rudy received a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from Rockefeller University where he studied the developmental origins of brain asymmetry. He is passionate abouttraditional archery, comic books, and has an extensive collection of vertebrate brains. Rudy can be found on Twitter @RudyBellani.

Zach Marks


Zach Marks is co-founder and COO of Oystir, a company dedicated to helping PhDs find non-academic jobs at no cost to them. In this role, he helps employers source and hire talented PhDs and works with PhDs to identify their skills, potential career opportunities and how best to position themselves. Prior to Oystir, Zach was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he developed strategies to hire talent from non-traditional sources. He advised large public, private and social sector clients on a range of organizational strategy topics with a focus on economic development, including an engagement designing South Sudan's first national agriculture plan. Zach received a BA in Ethics, Politics and Economics from Yale University. He is writing a book on chai wallahs, India's roadside tea vendors.

Mónica Feliú Mójer, PhD

Ciencia Puerto Rico and iBiology

Dr. Mónica Feliú-Mójer grew up in rural Puerto Rico, surrounded by nature and with a cow in her backyard, which sparked her interest in all things biology. A scientist-turned-communicator, she loves building meaningful connections to make science and scientists accessible to all. Mónica earned her B.S. in Human Biology at the University of Puerto Rico in Bayamón, and her Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Harvard University. She is the vice-director and news editor-in-chief of Ciencia Puerto Rico (@CienciaPR), an organization leveraging social networks to engage Hispanic scientists in science communication and education. Mónica is also the Science Outreach Program Manager for iBiology (@iBiology), an UCSF-based non-profit organization that produces free educational science videos featuring the world's leading biologists. She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the COPUS Paul Shin Memorial Award (2013) for her efforts to increase public understanding of science among Hispanic audiences. Her work has been featured on international media outlets, such as Univisión, VOXXI, and Scientific American among others. Monica can be found on Twitter at @moefeliu.

Amy L. Pszczolkowski

Princeton University

Amy Pszczolkowski has served as the associate director of graduate student career services at Princeton University since 2008. In this capacity, she collaborates closely with The Graduate School and has led the expansion of career advising and professional development programming for graduate students for the academic and non-academic job markets. Amy has over 20 years of higher education experience in academic and career advising, as well as administrative roles in strategic planning, development, and community relations ranging from research universities to selective liberal arts college, and community colleges. She has taught career management courses and first year seminars for undergraduate students. Amy received her Master's in higher education administration from Miami University of Ohio. She is the president-elect of the Graduate Career Consortium, a nonprofit organization comprised of over 200 university professionals who advise doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars in the area of professional and career development at over seventy research institutions and medical schools.


Nicholas DeLillo Jr., PhD


Nick DeLillo is the Director of Medical and Scientific Affairs at AXON, a healthcare consultancy specializing in the planning and development of creative, scientifically-accurate, and innovative healthcare communication strategies intended for diverse audiences across multiple communications platforms. His role involves the development of medical strategies and content throughout all aspects of drug development from molecule to maturity including strategic positioning, scientific messaging, product launches, branding, dissemination of clinical trial data, conferences, symposia, key opinion leader development, and advisory board meetings.

Nick graduated with a BA in English Literature from Manhattan College and a PhD in Molecular Biology from St. John's University. His thesis centered on chromatin remodeling and kinetochore function in S. cerevisiae cells harboring phospholipase C mutations.

With 14+ years of experience in healthcare communications, Nick has worked in a diverse range of treatment settings, including but not limited to oncology, ophthalmology, infectious disease, central nervous system disorders, and COPD. His clients include some of the largest pharmaceutical and medical device companies in the US and globally, and his job allows him to travel the globe and meet some of the top physicians in the world.

Nick takes great enjoyment in mentoring those individuals leaving the lab and seeking career direction. As someone who has "bootstrapped" himself to his current role, he shows his gratitude to his mentors by offering the same guidance and support to anyone who is unsure of their career path. Over the last 25 years, he has been a loving husband and father (his 2 favorite roles), a student, a teacher, a scientist, a mentor, an actor, a voiceover artist, a New York radio personality, an Aikido instructor, a comedy writer, a salesman, a complete failure, an unintentional success, a Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger (seriously), and a survivor of his own decisions, good and bad.

Avalon Garcia, PhD

BGB Group

Avalon's role as a Senior Medical Writer at the medical communications agency BGB Group, involves working collaboratively with multifunctional teams to develop content around the clinical data of BioPharmaceutical clients to help them communicate messages to healthcare professionals about the efficacy and safety of therapeutic agents, diagnostic tests, and medical devices. Prior to BGB Group, Avalon worked at Thieme Medical Publishers where she partnered with faculty to develop medical and scientific educational content for review books and digital platforms for medical students and their professors. She earned her PhD in Biochemistry with a concentration in Cancer Signaling from the CUNY Graduate Center-Hunter College, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Oncology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Avalon is one of the founding members of the 10-year old NYC Minority Graduate Student Network (MGSN), and serves on the group's advisory board to fulfill her passion for "feeding the STEM pipeline".

Paul-André Genest, PhD


Dr. Paul-André Genest is an Associate Publisher for Elsevier, the leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, where he is responsible for the management of a portfolio of ten journals in Life Sciences. He co-organized in 2015 a conference on the Impact of Environmental Changes on Infectious Diseases (IECID 2015) in Sitges, Spain, and launched the journals Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications and Current Opinion in Systems Biology. He is also the project manager of Elsevier's Atlas award. Prior to this function, he held the position of Managing Editor at Elsevier for the International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance (IJP:DDR), the International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife (IJP:PAW) and the Malaria Nexus web portal.

Dr. Genest has a BSc (Biology) degree and a MSc (Microbiology-Immunology) degree from the Université Laval in Québec City, Canada, and a PhD (Molecular Parasitology) from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He held two postdoc research positions at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, prior to joining Elsevier in 2012.

Nancy Ilaya, PhD

The Estee Lauder Companies

Nancy Ilaya is currently Manager of Scientific Affairs with The Estee Lauder Companies. She is responsible for identifying and developing skincare claims strategies for supporting ELC's top skincare launches. In this role she works with R&D, legal and product development teams to develop unique approaches to skincare claims substantiation. Before joining The Estee Lauder Companies, she had worked at Avon Product Inc. across New Technology and Product Innovation (Skincare) where she was responsible for evaluating technologies for beauty product development across skincare and color categories with focus on technical translation, new product innovation and ideation, claims development, SKU design and execution. During her tenure at Avon, she delivered eight skincare products to market, patented a skincare active, developed a global strategy for market re-activation of Anew skincare products, and delivered a Product Signals Cues Discovery Guidelines template to guide formulation design to align product proposition, concept and benefits with the anticipated consumer experience.

Prior to her career in beauty, Nancy worked in science communications and education. Upon arriving in New York, she worked at a healthcare/biotech PR firm where she oversaw training for publicists, management and executives, served as scientific counsel on scientific and health care accounts, and managed and designed strategic scientific public relations campaigns. Previously, she had managed postgraduate courses and programs through The Australian Stem Cell Centre and tutored undergraduate science and biomedical students with The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne. Raised in Australia, Nancy has a BS Hons in Pathology and PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australia in Neuropathlogy.

Tejinder Kaur, PhD

Healthcare Consultancy Group

Dr. Kaur earned her doctorate in Neuroscience from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she investigated mechanisms of synaptic transmission in the retina. Following graduation, Dr. Kaur worked on a crowdsourcing project with Scientists Without Borders and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to identify solutions to advance maternal and child health in developing countries. Alongside, Dr. Kaur gained experience in intellectual property at Forest Laboratories where she worked directly with patent attorneys to evaluate new pharmaceutical opportunities and gained first-hand knowledge of FDA regulations during drug approval process.

In her current role as a Medical Director at Healthcare Consultancy Group, she is responsible for developing medical education content and communications strategy that is scientifically accurate and aligned with the objectives of the brand. Dr. Kaur supports brands in a number of therapeutic areas at all stages of development, from pre-launch, disease awareness to a mature brand at the end of its life-cycle.

Marcus Kelly, PhD

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Marcus is currently a Staff Scientist in the department of Oncology and Angiogenesis at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. He is responsible for discovering and validating targets selectively expressed in cancer, and characterizing fully human antibody therapeutics developed against these molecules from early in vivo models through to advanced pre-clinical development. Prior to Regeneron, Marcus was a post-doctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Lloyd Old at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research New York Branch of Human Tumor Immunology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His project there focused on assessing the drug ADI-PEG20 in lung cancer and assisting in the development of antibodies against cancer immunology targets. Marcus received a BSc (Hons) and PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Caitlin McOmish, PhD

The New York Academy of Sciences

Caitlin McOmish began her scientific career at the University of Melbourne where she completed a BSc (Hons) and PhD in Neuroscience. She was recruited to a postdoc in New York for which received a CJ Martin Overseas Biomedical Fellowship from the NH&MRC. This fellowship allowed her to split her time between the labs of Professor Jay Gingrich at Columbia University, NY, USA, and Professor Brian Dean at the Florey Neuroscience Institute of Mental Health, Melbourne, Australia. During this period she engaged in freelance editing and science writing, as a way of exploring non-academic careers. In 2015, Caitlin joined the New York Academy of Sciences as a Program Manager for the Life Sciences Discussion Groups.


Networking Effectively to Find a Job (I)

Facilitators: Mónica Feliú Mójer, PhD, Ciencia Puerto Rico and iBiology
Yaihara Fortis-Santiago, PhD, New York Academy of Sciences
Connecting with the right people can help you get the job that will bring you the most success and fulfillment. Therefore, it is important to learn how to strategically and authentically connect with individuals who can help you land a fitting job and navigate new professional environments.
In this seminar, participants will:

  • Learn tips to effectively make connections with people at networking events
  • Learn to maximize the potential of large networking events, along with exit strategies
  • Learn how to be yourself and use your charms as a powerful asset
  • Learn to navigate diverse environments while making good impressions

Networking II: Assessing and Building Your Professional Network

Facilitators: Mónica Feliú Mójer, PhD, Ciencia Puerto Rico and iBiology
Yaihara Fortis-Santiago, PhD, New York Academy of Sciences
In our previous workshop, you have learned about networking and informational interviews. You have become an expert on finding and meeting people. However, the most important piece to the networking puzzle is the network itself. Do you know how to spot the most important players in your network? Do you have a strong and diverse professional network?
This workshop will provide you with practical advice about developing, cultivating, and sustaining professional networks to advance and strengthen you career.
The goals of this workshop are:

  • To assess and map your current professional network
  • To diversify your search for professional connections using online platforms as Twitter and LinkedIn
  • To learn strategies and examples on how to identify advisors, mentors, and sponsors
  • To learn how to cultivate relationships and add value within those networks

Personal Branding: Selling Your Skills to Future Employers

Facilitators: Mónica Feliú Mójer, PhD, Ciencia Puerto Rico and iBiology
Yaihara Fortis-Santiago, PhD, New York Academy of Sciences
Your training has provided you with a variety of transferrable skills, but do you know how to present them to employers outside of academia?
In this seminar, participants will:

  • Learn to develop a narrative that could be adapted for different jobs
  • Learn how to frame their skills depending on the job they are applying for
  • Learn how to communicate effectively to show how their skills are a good fit for the job
  • Learn how to use online tools to develop a strong personal brand

Tactical Advice to Identify and Improve Your Skills

Facilitators: Mónica Feliú Mójer, PhD, Ciencia Puerto Rico and iBiology
Yaihara Fortis-Santiago, PhD, New York Academy of Sciences
Do you have the skills you need to make the leap to the career you want? Do you know how to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a professional? Do you have an individual development plan? During this session participants will participate in hands-on activities to take charge of their career planning and to better understand what skills they need to be successful in their chosen career.
The goals of this workshop are:

  • To identify the skills acquired during your scientific training and extracurricular activities
  • To assess your strengths/weaknesses as a professional
  • To identify values/interests
  • To define short and long career term goals
  • To develop a plan to strengthen your ‘weak’ skills

Beyond the PhD: Realities of the Job Market Panel and Roundtables Discussion

You are considering a transition away from academic research, but what are other available jobs and where do you find them? This panel will address career opportunities that are available to science PhDs, offer practical job search strategies, and provide insights into what potential employers are seeking from successful job applicants. The second part of this session will be set up as roundtables where the speakers will sit at the tables with 6–7 participants for a more intimate discussion.
Moderator: Yaihara Fortis Santiago, PhD, New York Academy of Sciences
Caitlin McOmish, PhD – Program Manager, New York Academy of Sciences
Avalon Garcia, PhD – Senior Medical Writer, BGB Group
Paul-André Genest, PhD – Associate Publisher, Elsevier
Nancy Ilaya, PhD – Manager of Scientific Affairs at Estee Lauder

Resume and Cover Letter Writing for Non-Academic Jobs

The resume and cover letter are arguably the "go-to" tools during the job hunt. The art of creating a useful, dynamic, and memorable set of application materials is critical. Before beginning to write yours, it is a good idea to understand what you are writing, why you are writing it, and what is expected as you write it.
The goals of the resume writing in this workshop are:

  • To increase the understanding of how your resume and cover letter are used in the job search process by both applicants and employers
  • To learn how to target your application materials for specific goals and job descriptions
  • To understand the technical aspects of a Resume vs. C.V.
  • To compose a resume that highlights to the reader your greatest skills, experiences, and strengths useful for a specific job.
  • To understand how to use sections of the resume to your advantage in "telling your story"

The goals of the cover letter workshop are:

  • How to effectively make the argument of your fit for a particular job opportunity
  • Avoiding "repeating" of your resume
  • What do you do when a cover letter is no longer asked for as part of your application
  • To learn about different styles for cover letters

Jumping Off the Ivory Tower: Preparing for Interviews Outside Academe

Facilitators: Rudy Bellani & Zach Marks, Oystir
Outside of academia, even if you are superbly qualified for a job, successfully interviewing for it requires knowing 1) which of the three types of interviews you are facing, 2) which of the three types of possible colleague is interviewing you, and 3) having a powerful response to six notable questions. In this session, we will break down all of these key dimensions of the interview so you are prepared next time you have a call scheduled. Expect lots of attendee participation.

Negotiating the Job Offer

Facilitator: Amy Pszczolkowski, Princeton University
In this hands-on session, you will learn the most important tips and techniques to maximize your success when considering a job offer. You will learn:

  • How to understand the entire compensation package beyond salary
  • How to determine your own "bottom line" and the elements you need in order to accept the job
  • How to determine your value in the marketplace
  • How to obtain hidden information like growth potential, company culture, and other important facts that will influence your career

Travel & Lodging

Our Location

The New York Academy of Sciences

7 World Trade Center
250 Greenwich Street, 40th floor
New York, NY 10007-2157

Directions to the Academy

Hotels Near 7 World Trade Center

Recommended partner hotel

Club Quarters, World Trade Center
140 Washington Street
New York, NY 10006
Phone: 212.577.1133

The New York Academy of Sciences is a member of the Club Quarters network, which offers significant savings on hotel reservations to member organizations. Located opposite Memorial Plaza on the south side of the World Trade Center, Club Quarters, World Trade Center is just a short walk to the Academy.

Use Club Quarters Reservation Password NYAS to reserve your discounted accommodations online.

Other nearby hotels

Conrad New York


Millenium Hilton


Marriott Financial Center


Club Quarters, Wall Street


Eurostars Wall Street Hotel


Gild Hall, Financial District


Wall Street Inn


Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park