Alumni Testimonials

myCHOICE has been bringing a lot of careers tracks to my attention in the form of seminars, some of which I had never considered. In addition, myCHOICE is a great time to network with professionals that often have insights about their experience in their field and can help me narrow down and assess what characteristics are important and applicable to my decision making.

-Catherine Igartua, PhD ’16 Human Genetics.
Computational Biologist at Tempus, Inc.


The myCHOICE program (and the general feeling of positivity towards career exploration that is brings) has been instrumental in all of my job hunting processes and ultimately in my success in landing a job. I can confidently say that this absolutely would not have been possible without many of the opportunities from myCHOICE.

-Andrew Kirkley, PhD ’17 Pathology
Senior Consultant at Navigant


“The new myCHOICE program at the University of Chicago has truly helped me to decide on a career path. Although the program is in its infancy, I had the amazing opportunity of being involved in the grant preparation and program development phases. Through that process I met many University leaders and saw first-hand the support this University has for the program. While that pre-implementation involvement was a great learning opportunity in itself, now that the program is up and running I also have immensely benefited from the E1:Exposure career seminar series which brings a variety of speakers to talk about what they did after their PhD. The networking connections that I made with some of these speakers resulted in pivotal informational interviews that eventually led me to my current career path. I have seen such a major difference in the attitudes toward career development of my friends and colleagues since this program began and I can’t wait to see all of the positive impact this program will have.”

-Courtney Burrows, PhD ’15 Human Genetics
Commercial Leadership Development Program at Abbvie


These programs are always well structured, educational, and  enjoyable. Also, it gives me a chance to meet new people who I otherwise would not encounter.

-Ari Nowacek, MD, PhD, MBA. Medical Resident, Postdoc.
Principal at ARCH Venture Partners.


The myCHOICE program already has and will continue to expand my knowledge of different career paths for PhDs. I have also been able to gain access to leaders in these various fields, particularly my recently chosen field of pharma/biotech. I have been able to ask them questions and gain invaluable advise, which is something I would not ordinarily have been able to do without this well structured and planned program.

-Abena Agyeman, PhD, Postdoc 2011 – 2016
Commissioner’s Fellow at the FDA


Over the summer of 2016, I took part in a myCHOICE internship working in a cancer genomics company as a data scientist.  My project consisted of organizing the categorization of clinical trials based on the trial’s tumor genotype requirements. The project workload was approximately 8 hours a week and was easily balanced with my research duties. This invaluable opportunity allowed me to apply my graduate research experience to a tractable problem with real-world clinical relevance, and reshaped my understanding of the tangible value that my graduate education could have.  At the same time, the position also offered me with excellent opportunities to expand my leadership abilities as well as my capacity to collaborate in a fast paced team.
Subsequent to the internship I sought out a data science fellowship through which I found my eventual postgraduate job as a data scientist at a company specializing in hereditary cancer genomics.  Overall, the career opportunities presented to me through the myCHOICE internship helped to broaden my horizons and made me much more marketable after my graduation.

-Will McFadden, PhD ’17 Biophysics
Data Scientist at Color Genomics


myChoice organizes great programs spanning wide ranges from communication, group leading training, technology improvement. I am interested to take this opportunity to learn and translate my experience that I learn from myChoice. I am in a communication program with myChoice and it is helping me to better write and present.

-Amitabh Chaudhary, PhD, Lecturer, Department of Computer Science, 2013 – 2016
Associate Clinical Professor, Computer Science, University of Chicago


My participation in myCHOICE programming has enriched my experience at the University of Chicago by broadening and deepening my awareness of career options and whether they would be the right fit for my interests and skills. The myCHOICE E2 program to which I am applying will help me in my career exploration by deepening my knowledge of current developments in STEM teaching. Thereby, I will gain a better knowledge of the skills I need to develop in order to be competitive in the job market of the future.

-Rudi Faust, PhD ’14, Neurobiology
Postdoc at Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience


Trainee Testimonials

I continue to be grateful for the myCHOICE program and staff every day of my graduate career.  Through myCHOICE career exploration seminars, treks, and conversations, I have learned more about myself and the career opportunities available to me. myCHOICE has and continues to support my career development in a way that is not normally available in academia, which has enriched my graduate career in ways I never thought  possible.

– Lauren Blake, 3rd year PhD student, Department of Human Genetics
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow


By simply introducing alternative career options, as mentioned above, myCHOICE has already exposed me to several different types of careers and given me an opportunity to picture what it might be like to follow a different path. More importantly, however, I think that this and future phases, of the myCHOICE program will be instrumental in providing groundwork for expanding my knowledge of what is necessary to be a highly qualified candidate in different fields.

-Caitlin Castro, Postdoc, Immunology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


The exposure phase has already been very helpful in showing me what my options were. Also the fact that myChoice enforces myIDP as well is pushing me to make more tangible plans about my career. For me, myChoice started at the perfect time because I am at a point where I have completed a good chunk of my training, but I also have more than enough time to make career plans and work towards them. MyChoice will help me talk to right people, network and gain hands-on experience in some of the careers I am considering,
as well as helping me train for those jobs.
I have been fully active in myChoice since it started and it already changed my attitude towards my research. Knowing that I have many more career options than academia is relaxing in a way because I freak out less about my thesis work. I know I started the career search early enough and it is comforting, which increases my performance in my program. It also forces me to network and talk to other people and engage in activities other than doing work at my bench all day long.

-Ali Ekrem Yesilkanal, PhD Candidate, Cancer Biology


I have already had so many opportunities to learn about careers by attending E1 lunches and seminars. I discovered the consulting club I have been working with through myCHOICE. This E2 course on leadership will introduce me to more of the business side of science and help improve my fluency in business terminology and practices.

-Haley Stinnett, PhD Candidate, Organismal Biology and Anatomy


The University of Chicago is a premier research institution with an excellent international reputation. However, for many years, the PhD training in Biological Sciences was aimed at producing more PIs.  Recently it became clear that there are simply not enough PI positions for all PhD trainees, and at the same time, the interest of PhD trainees is shifting to other career paths – Biotech, Healthcare, Consulting, etc.  myChoice has introduced me to a number of those career paths, and gave me confidence that there are a lot of
opportunities for me after I obtain my PhD.

-Daniil Gataulin, PhD Candidate, Cell and Molecular Biology


There has been a dearth of information regarding career paths outside of academic research, which is why the myChoice program is so exciting and a welcome breath of fresh air.

-Celia Fernandez, PhD ’15, Neurobiology, Postdoc.


All of the myCHOICE events that I have attended so far on teaching in the sciences have given me new knowledge and understanding of the types of teaching jobs available, the daily responsibilities for someone in one of those positions, and the skills and experiences that schools are looking for when hiring for those positions.  I know that attending this workshop on elements of successful teaching in the sciences will further my understanding of teaching intensive careers in academia, as well as give me skills and insight on which to build my own teaching philosophy.

-Lauren Drake, PhD ’16 Molecular Pathogenesis and Molecular Medicine, Postdoc.

Anonymous Testimonials


Business of Science:

myCHOICE is the University of Chicago’s most valuable career development program for graduate students and postdocs. -Investment Banking, 2016

myCHOICE is fantastic and I hope it continues in some capacity after the BEST grant expires. -Investment Banking, 2016

I learned a lot about my own predispositions and mechanisms by which I participate in the teamwork. I also got good amount of confidence that I would be an excellent leader. I my future career I will focus on polishing the skills and talents I discovered during this class. It also directed my job search towards positions that offer leadership experience. -LEAD, 2016

You guys are doing a great job of providing us wonderful opportunities to enhance our skills and understand how to leverage it to attain our goals. Thank you! 🙂 -LEAD, 2016

I continue to be grateful for the myCHOICE program and staff every single day — there is really not one day that goes by in my graduate career that I am NOT taking advantage of this. I have learned so much about myself as well as the career opportunities available to me, I sincerely feel like my graduate career has been enriched in ways I never thought possible. -LEAD, 2016

Overall great job! Have used a lot of the resources and can say I learned a lot and branched out a lot throughout the past year or so. -Business Basics, 2016

myCHOICE is educating me to an amazing breadth of topics– ideas that have never occurred to me, career options I never thought possible. I continue to be grateful and interested in this program that I've now come to see is absolutely invaluable. Thanks so much! -Biotech Start-ups, 2016

Love the myCHOICE program! Really helps open my eyes to the variety of post-PhD career options! -Biotech Start-Ups, 2016

myCHOICE has provided a vast amount of diverse fields where a Ph.D. can be used. -Meet the Polsky Center, 2016

myCHOICE is so helpful that I suggest it become a standard part of (post)graduate education. It provides training in key areas needed to be a successful professional, which are not currently not taught in graduate or postdoctoral programs. -Strategies & Processes of Negotiation, 2015

Thanks for providing such a breadth of courses on both valuable soft skills as well as subject-specific knowledge. -Strategies & Processes of Negotiation, 2015

I am scientist and know absolutely nothing in business, finance… I always wanted to learn someday about business in sciences. I bought some books but I still have to read it. Class is more interactive, a better way to learn. -Business of Science, 2015

myCHOICE enables young scientists to understand all of their career options and select a path to which they are best suited. It perfectly complements conventional university instruction and postgraduate research. -Business of Science, 2015

I believe this program to be very well organized and thoughtful. It covers all a PhD could ask for in terms of tools and access to information. The communications are well delivered and timely. -Business of Science, 2015

Science Policy & Advocacy:

This is the best myChoice event that I have attended. Although it’s unlikely that my career will directly involve myself in science advocacy, I learned about how to advocate for science regardless of what my occupation is. -Ann Reid Seminar

This workshop was one of the most useful events organized by the myChoice committee. It raised my interest in science communication and advocacy positions as a viable career. A year ago, I decided that I did not want to go into academia, but I had no idea what else I could do with my PhD. myChoice program overall came at the right time for me. Now I am more informed about my options and I also have enough time to prepare for those positions.

I love myCHOICE. I can’t say enough good things about the program and its people. I’m so glad that this program rolled out while I was here for my PhD and ready to take advantage of it. And seriously, I don’t know what I would do without it. Even attending the smallest seminar (where a speaker just told us about her institution) has developed for me into a relationship with a national effort to teach teachers AND kids about the more controversial topics in science. That”s fantastic! -Science Policy Workshop

So far the talks through the myChoice program has helped me understand the opportunities that international students might have in the US and also if they wish to go back to their countries.I also got to know the diverse career options in the scientific research. -Science Policy Workshop, 2016

The myChoice E1 program is very well set up. I’ve been to about 5 E1 seminars and they’re all very useful with very knowledgeable speakers. I use them both to get exposure to fields I’m not familiar with and to get more info about fields I’m already interested in. Keep up the good work. -Science Policy Workshop, 2016

Scientific Communication & Education:

You guys rock. -Effective Writing in the Biological Sciences, 2017

The myCHOICE program is a wonderful resource. I continue to enjoy the programming events. As a second-year PhD student, I really enjoy being able to survey all the potential opportunities that I will have with my PhD. As I continue on with my PhD training, I sincerely look forward to using the myCHOICE program resources to further explore the career paths I am interested in. -Grant Review, 2017

Very helpful and engaging, just what is needed in PhD programs to legitimize alternate career paths outside academia. -Grant Review, 2017

Job opportunities are happening all around us– we just don’t notice them until we start looking. -Medical Communications Careers, 2017

Great resource for people lacking mentorship! I LOVE IT! Keep it going! -Writing Workshop, 2016

myCHOICE is expanding our horizons, providing networking opportunities and generally making the future of PhD students look brighter and more achievable. -Scientific Writing, 2016

Without the myCHOICE program I would have no idea what to do with my career. You are helping me to develop new goals inside and outside the lab every day, so thank you! -Scientific Writing, 2016

The myCHOICE program has been a refreshing change in academic science culture. I feel much better prepared to pursue other, perhaps more fulfilling and rewarding career options outside of or in addition to traditional benchwork in academia. -Scientific Teaching Workshop, 2015

Career Development:

I am very glad we have the myCHOICE events. They have really opened my eyes to different options after my postdoc and have really enhanced my preparation for the job search. -Speed Mentoring, 2016

This is an awesome program that helps students and postdocs explore and obtain many different jobs. I love that it’s at an institution like UofC. I appreciate that there is finally recognition that not all people can obtain or even want to obtain traditional academic jobs. -Speed Mentoring, 2016

Love it! Over the past year I have learned so much and it has help me create a vision for my future. -Speed Mentoring, 2016

It’s great! There have been so many useful resources that the myCHOICE program puts on- from workshops to courses to internships. I am so very grateful it has been here during my time as a PhD, I can't imagine it not being here. -How to Maximize Your LinkedIn, 2016

myCHOICE has been very helpful and I’ve enjoyed attending many of the workshops and seminars. It’s doing an excellent job filling the holes in career training that seemed to exist a few years ago, and I feel much more prepared for and thoughtful about my impending career search. -Entering Mentoring, 2016

Overall, the myCHOICE program is doing an outstanding job of helping people find and develop their unique talents within the sciences. -Internship Panel, 2016

I am excited and happy that the university recognizes that there are jobs outside of academia (or even pharma/consulting) and will provide seminars about them instead of whispering about them where no PIs can hear. -SciPhD, 2016

This program has been so helpful to me. I got stuck in my postdoc. When it became obvious that I was not going to be progressing to a tenure track position, I really questioned my life choices and direction. MyCHOICE was invaluable to me in exploring alternate paths in depth and figuring out what I really wanted out of my a career. Directly or indirectly because of myCHOICE, I tried science writing as an intern, and applied to a non-profit, some biotech companies and a medical writing firm. These experiences reaffirmed to me that I belong at the bench, so when a senior PI in my department came to me with a job offer, I pounced on it. -Beyond the Bench, 2016

I really value the services that the myCHOICE program provides and wish I had a program like this in place when I was a graduate student. -Core Facilities Seminar, 2016

I like learning how skills that I have gained and sharpened throughout the PhD process can be applied to solve problems outside of basic research. -Librarians Seminar, 2016

myCHOICE is the best thing ever, it shows us the reality of different career options. -Data Science Panel, 2017

Great program! The diversity of backgrounds and professions of the speakers is a true strength of the myCHOICE seminars. -Getting Pharmacogenomics Into the Clinic, 2017

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