Success Program Launch: Biotech Boot Camp Preps Students for Careers in the Field

Employers are increasingly considering candidates with just a bachelor’s degree for STEM fields. Villanova University hosted a biotechnology boot camp in February to expose students to and prepare them for a career in the field.

April 4, 2023
Students are shown watching a panel during the biotech boot camp at Villanova.
Villanova University’s biotech boot camp featured alumni from biotechnology and pharmaceutical careers to speak to students about their work.
(Villanova University)

Villanova University took a new approach on translating major skills into career opportunities for students with its biotechnology boot camp, introducing learners to alumni and employers in a difficult-to-enter field.

The half-day event promoted business and career advice and networking opportunities for science, technology, engineering and math students interested in pharmaceuticals and biotech, boosting students’ interest and confidence in postgraduate opportunities.

What’s the need: The COVID-19 pandemic spurred an interest in biotech and biomedical careers among Villanova’s students, says Kevin Grubb, associate vice provost of professional development and executive director of the career center at Villanova. Employers are also looking at younger talent and hiring STEM major undergraduates instead of just Ph.D. students.

Inside Higher Ed Careers
Search over 40,000 Career Opportunities in Higher Education
We have helped more than 2,000 institutions hire the best higher education talent.
Browse all job openings »

However, biotech is a difficult career path to break into for undergraduates, as there are fewer opportunities for bachelor’s degree–level positions, and internships and entry-level roles can be poorly defined.

Villanova has hosted other boot camps for hard-to-break-into careers, like consulting, or for students looking to translate their major skills into a field, like liberal arts or science students interested in financial services, Grubb says.

“The [biotech] boot camp was presented as a solution because it brought together alumni, faculty and students to discuss the realities of the work in the field and to give students language to articulate how their skills and experiences would make them attractive candidates for open positions,” Grubb explains.

How it played out: The boot camp was a half-day event on a Friday in February, with a keynote speaker, three panel discussions and a networking reception hosted by the career center, college of liberal arts and sciences and university advancement.

The sessions featured Villanova alumni working in biotech and pharma, covering both the industries as a whole and how to begin careers in both fields. Alumni represented a variety of career levels, with younger graduates from the 2010s up to graduates from the 1980s.

Over 40 students attended the event from major paths of biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, comprehensive sciences and neurosciences.

One area of focus was how funding works in the biotech field, with a panel of venture capitalists and investors to help students understand the fluid and fast-paced nature of the field, Grubb shares.

The keynote speaker was Jay Galeota, a Villanova alumnus and chief executive officer at Kallyope, a biosciences company targeting gut health. Kallyope created a summer internship for Villanova students, which he promoted.

Moderna and Bristol Myers Squibb, which regularly recruit Villanova students for internships and full-time roles, were also represented at the event, Grubb says.

Related Stories

What’s the impact: Students shared with staff that they learned more about career opportunities in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries and that the event grew their confidence in postgraduate plans.

The career center did not survey students but plans to do so following future boot camps, Grubb says.

Looking ahead, the center is considering options to expand biotech-related opportunities for students to pursue, like hosting a biomedical engineering boot camp or creating an immersive experience for students to travel to biotech hubs like Boston and Philadelphia to meet with alumni and employers.

If your student success program has a unique feature or twist that you believe is worth modeling, we’d like to know about it. Click here to submit.

Share Article


Ashley Mowreader

Back to Top