MBS Student-Alumni Mixer

By: Karen Bernis

While the audience digested a lovely dinner, a diverse and fascinating panel of MBS alumni reflected on how their experiences during the MBS program affected their strategies searching for jobs and on the job. Led by moderator, Narayan Escolin (MBS Drug Discovery & Development), the panelists introduced themselves, telling us something of their journey, addressed topics suggested by the moderator, and answered questions from the audience. The panelists included Brittany Greene (MBS Drug Discovery & Development), Daniel Marcus (MBS Industrial Mathematics), Lisa Hong (MBS Drug Discovery & Development), Sam Ramezanli (MBS User Experience Design), Stephan Carter (MBS Personal Care Science), Briana Bacchetta (MBS Food Science), Christopher Dougherty (MBS Geographic Information Systems), Joel Wattacheril (MBS Analytics), Pamela Lai (MBS Analytics), and Sintia Krizman (MBS Biotechnology & Genomics).

A diverse and fascinating panel of MBS alumni reflected on their MBS years.

Networking was a key topic. Networking starts the day you enter the first classroom in the MBS program. Your MBS classmates hope to be managers hiring new employees in a few years, reminded panelist Sintia, so connect with them while you still remember each other’s names and faces. Build long term relationships whenever you can – whether with classmates, those you meet at colloquium, conferences or trade shows, even the interviewers you speak with, and fellow employees, recommended panelists Stephen, Pamela, and Joel. Attending colloquium events while at Rutgers and industry events later on was highly recommended by many panelists. Start attending as soon as possible and you will be able to choose ones of personal interest, advised Lisa. You won’t realize how much they help until you go, counselled Brittany, and remember to talk to your classmates and make connections with other attendees. Career fairs provide a context to meet potential employers and learn about potential jobs, especially if uncertain in which direction to go, recommended Sintia. Telling your own story, cleanly and quickly, remained key to successful networking and interviewing. Brittany recommended the workshop on elevator pitches. Daniel and Lisa noted that a clean story smoothly incorporates past and future moves as a singular strategy towards a common end, albeit that end and the story often change over time. In interviews, know the company, be able to answer basic questions easily, and show confidence in yourself, advised panelists Daniel and Pamela. Use projects from classes and internships to give concrete illustration of skills in answers to questions, suggested Christopher. Panelists reminded the audience that an interview should go both ways and suggested several potential questions for interviewers. “What constitutes success for this role?” potentially opens dialogue between interviewer and interviewee. “What would you like to have seen on my resume” is one way to find out your holes (and salvage the investment in an interview that may not be going well). Whether you or they ask explicitly, keeping the question “what skills can I bring to the table to help you?” in mind will keep you on the same page as the interviewer, noted panelist Daniel. Briana reminded us that some industries are very small: don’t get so lost in the questions that you don’t take the time to get to know your interviewer as a person.

Current students in the MBS program list attentively.

As they discussed job search and interview strategies, panelists Stephen, Briana, and Daniel emphasized the need to sell the MBS program as well as yourself. The unique combination of technical and business skills taught in the MBS program often placed the panelist in positions of knowledge. All the panelists gave a big shout-out to Kathleen Cashman for teaching communications, teamwork, and professional behavior (this seemed to be everyone’s pick for the best and most useful MBS class). Thanks were also tendered to the directors Deborah Silver and Matthew Sills for personal advice. Beyond communications, favorite classes reflected the technical leanings of the panelists ranging from Food Chemistry to Design & 3D Printing to Analytics. Capstone may have been everyone’s most challenging class at the time it was taken, but the panelists clearly valued the realistic experiences of working in a group, managing a team, and thinking through business decisions. Each felt they learned a tremendous amount. Internships were discussed as a bonus despite the challenge of time management. Working in the field during the years at MBS, puts the learning into the context of the real world (Christopher, Briana), helps connect the dots, and builds connections that can lead to future employment (Briana).

Moderator Narayan Escolin greets audience and panelists.

Moderator Narayan complimented the panelists as “the type of alumni our students should strive to be” and thanked them for their participation. With alumni participating on the panel, on the Industry Advisory Board and in the audience, Narayan noted that the MBS program is still there for you after you graduate, only one of the many unique aspects of this program.