Career Development

For more information on any of the following programs, contact Dr. Michele McDonough, Molecular Biosciences Assistant Chair, or 847-491-5762.

For more information on Pathway to the Professoriate, BioOpportunities or BioSurvivals, please visit the BioProfessionals Program page.

For information on applying to graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, please see the Fellowship Applications page.

Additionally, the Molecular Biosciences department has a variety of career development books that can be checked out from Michele McDonough. A complete list of available books can be accessed here.


BioOpportunities fosters the career development of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows training in the life sciences at Northwestern University. The primary goal of the program is to introduce graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to diverse life sciences career options, thus helping them identify career paths that maximize their individual skills, training and talents.

The core activity of the BioOpportunites program is a seminar series featuring speakers drawn from a wide range of professions, unified by the fact that they all have a Ph.D. in the life sciences. Whenever possible, Northwestern alumni are invited to speak as they provide tangible evidence to our students and fellows of what may be accomplished with training from Northwestern. Most seminars have a panel of two to three speakers, thus providing the trainees with a diverse range of opinions and pathways in each field. Each seminar attracts between 20-60 students and postdoctoral trainees.

Most recently, BioOpportunities has developed a database of alumni and former speakers to serve as a career resource for our trainees as well as to facilitate essential networking contacts. An extensive career resource library is also maintained in the IBiS office.

BioOpportunities Seminar Topics (Rotated on a semi-annual basis):

  • Careers in Academia
  • Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industry Science Writing
  • Intellectual Property: Patent Law and Technology Transfer
  • Regulatory Biology
  • Computers in Science
  • Development and Fundraising
  • Using the Internet to Find a Job
  • Administration
  • Funding Opportunities
  • Teaching
  • Scientists at Museums
  • Balancing a Science Career And Family
  • Government Research
  • Science and Public Policy
  • Forensic Science
  • Business Side of Science

Chicago Science Career Forum

The IBiS program, in conjunction with Northwestern's Career Services, The University of Chicago and Science magazine, sponsors the annual Chicago Science Career Forum-a research exposition and employer job fair for Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers.

Two important features of the Chicago Science Career Forum make it a valuable event for doctoral students and fellows. The day begins first with a poster session attended by all the employers. Here, the students and fellows have the opportunity to showcase their research and achievements and to talk extensively with employers. Second, the employers bring Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers to the job fair in addition to human resources personnel. This provides students and fellows with resources on specific jobs as well as career opportunities more broadly.

BioSurvival Skills Workshop

The BioSurvival Skills workshops help trainees develop specific skills they need to maximize their success as they progress through their training, making them more competitive in the job market. The series consists of five interactive workshops, each lasting two to four hours. Some workshops are held on Saturday mornings while others are offered weekday evenings. Approximately 35-45 trainees attend each workshop.

BioSurvival Skills Workshop Topics (Rotated on a semi-annual basis):

  • Writing and Publishing Scientific Articles
  • Finding and Landing the Right Job: Job Hunting, Self-marketing, Interviewing Skill and Job Negotiation
  • CV and Cover Letter Writing
  • Regulatory Biology
  • Identifying Funding and Gransmanship
  • Oral Presentation: Speaking Effectively and Producing Effective AV Presentations

Pathway To The Professoriate

The Pathway to the Professoriate program specifically focuses on academic career paths, especially the professoriate. The program helps ensure our trainees are enlightened and demystified about the process of becoming a faculty member and provides valuable insight into the effort required to be successful.

Two different faculty members meet monthly over lunch with interested students and fellows to discuss a specific topic.

Pathway to the Professoriate Program Topics (Rotated on a semi-annual basis):

  • Selecting the Right Postdoc
  • Grants: Funding During the Postdoc and Faculty Years
  • Research, Publishing and Technology Transfer
  • Job Searching and the Job Application/Start-up Packages (Salary, Lab Space, etc)
  • Lab Management, Mentoring and Leadership
  • Teaching
  • Community Service, Committee Work
  • The Tenure Process
  • Issues for and about Women and Minorities
  • Non-Tenure Track and Alternative Faculty Positions
  • Long-term Success: Stories from the Emeritus Faculty

Fellowship Resources

Fellowship Timeline:

One month prior to the proposal due date: Announce your intent to apply by meeting with pre-award staff (Meghann Reynolds?). In this meeting we will provide details on all required documents, examples of past applications, and a breakdown of tasks, including which items will be completed for you. This meeting must occur one month prior to proposal due date or we cannot guarantee support for your application.

2-3 Weeks out from due date: Meet with your faculty mentor to review all documents to be submitted. Provide them with a complete draft of your proposal and plan time for extensive revisions following the meeting. Keep in mind we can only process documents that have been approved by faculty.

10 days out from due date: Final documents due to pre-award staff for completion of form package. We will complete the forms and application package, calculate budgets, review all documents for errors, submit package to the Office of Sponsored Research, and obtain all necessary campus signatures. Forms are due to OSR five days out with no flexibility on this deadline for postdoc applications.

2 days out from due date: Your application will be uploaded to ERA Commons or Fastlane. Paper NSF applications will be mailed. For all electronic applications, you must review documents for any last errors and monitor the email messages and approvals generated by the application system.

Searle Center For Advancing Learning And Teaching

The Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching is a University-wide program, serving undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, with operations supported by an endowment from the Searle Family. The Center supports faculty members who wish to experiment through its grants program. It also offers a number of services to help individuals collect, analyze and evaluate information about the ways they teach.

Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA)

NCA offers comprehensive career services to NU graduate students which includes career counseling and assessment, job search planning, interview preparation, access to career-related resources, and much more. Students can search for jobs/internships, learn about upcoming career-related events, and schedule an appointment to meet with their career adviser through Handshake, the university’s online career platform. Click here to access Handshake.

IBiS Student Organization (ISO)

The IBiS Student Organization (ISO) was formed on the premise of creating a unified voice for IBiS students, impacting life sciences department procedures, as well as Northwestern University as a whole. The group is currently lead by a Board of 16 graduate students representing every year in IBiS, in addition to liaisons to graduate groups in related fields and large student involvement program-wide.

The ISO mission:

  • Address academic and political procedures at Northwestern
  • Research current issues in the life sciences
  • Arrange student social events.

Job Resource

Job Resource is an innovative online career management tool that allows students and fellows to easily browse job postings from a nationwide network of employers, confidentially post your CV/resume and stay informed about career news and events. Alumni can register to become corporate contacts for the department. Registered alumni, corporate affiliates and other interested employers can post jobs and browse student/fellow resumes. This is a free service.

Postdoc Online

The Postdoc Online website is the first and only website exclusively providing post-doctoral job information. This website attracts over 50,000 recent Ph.D.'s every month.


BioCompare is the buyer's guide for life scientists.