2017 National Institutes of Health Career Symposium- Ubadah Sabbagh

Name: Ubadah Sabbagh

Role: Doctoral Student

Program: Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health

Meeting: 2017 National Institutes of Health Career Symposium (2017)

I’d not have been able to attend this year’s intramural NIH Career Symposium without support from the BEST Travel Award. The symposium hosted panels focused on a wide-range of scientific careers outside of the traditional PI track in academia. The goal was to expose graduate students and post-doctoral trainees to the variety of fields within which they can work, and to provide us with a space to ask questions of professionals currently working in those fields.

Initially, I immediately noticed that most people in attendance were at the post-doctoral stage of their scientific careers. There were few graduate students, let alone ones in their first year of doctoral training. There were several opportunities for networking and meeting both scientists who work in my field and those who don’t. I enjoyed those moments and made sure to make the most of them. Fortunately, I managed to make some great connections with some of the panelists and attendees, and continue to correspond with them weeks after the symposium. One post-doc I met has kindly been assisting me in seeking out a grant from a funding organization I’m not familiar with; and that no one at my current institute is funded by. I hope to submit that grant soon.

I made it a point to attend panels on science policy, science advocacy, science writing, journalism, and communication, among others. Because I already have developed a writing portfolio (albeit small), I was able to ask more forward-looking questions during the panels. I was pleased to learn from the panelists in journalism and science writing that having any experience in non-academic writing and publication as a doctoral student sets me on the path of becoming a competitive applicant in the future, should I choose to pursue that career path. I also have had the opportunity to connect with some of the panelists online, and in person in subsequent visits I’ve had to D.C. to further discuss their career trajectory and potential shadowing opportunities.

I’m confident that my experience at this symposium will prove to be immensely valuable as I move forward in my doctoral training. I would highly recommend graduate students and post-docs, at any stage of their career, to attend this sort of event. BEST made it possible for me, and for that I’m grateful. I hope others are able to utilize these resources to further their professional development, as well.