Posted: October 4, 2017

Achieving Successful Careers Exploring New Directions: Preparing Trainees for Diverse Careers


In 2016 the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and Graduate Studies developed a program called ASCEND (Achieving Successful Careers, Exploring New Directions). The program draws upon NIH BEST and similar programs as well as feedback from KUMC’s trainees and the community. ASCEND has an advisory group composed of trainees, faculty, and community members. A preprogram survey of trainees was issued to gauge interests and needs. The pilot year focused on two areas: a series of career development workshops and an experiential learning component. Eight workshops were offered over the fall. 106 individuals participated in the workshop series, with 41% attending multiple sessions. Feedback was positive, with a majority of participants indicating the topics were relevant and their knowledge of the subject improved. The series followed the career preparation life cycle. Doctoral students were invited to develop a proposal for experiential learning. The experiential learning placement, timing and formatting of the placements was challenging, as was connecting to willing industry hosts in the community. A local trade organization, BioKansas, was critical to building the bridge between academia and industry. ASCEND will continue with a second year. The workshop series has expanded to ten career development, six transferrable skill, and four career exploration events. The experiential learning component will restructure to offer diverse opportunities tailored to meet the needs of individual trainees. The KUMC campus will partner with other KU campuses to offer select workshop series at multiple locations, including online, providing a model for replication of the program.


Experiential Learning, Careers, Workshops


Ashley Carlson, MLA, University of Kansas Medical Center

Matt Falk, MSE, BioKansas

Nicole Reiz, PhD, University of Kansas

Mark Jakubauskas, PhD, University of Kansas- Edwards Campus

Jenny Memmott, MME, University of Kansas Medical Center

Ashley Carlson, MLA, University of Kansas Medical Center

Michael Werle, PhD, University of Kansas Medical Center