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2022 Ph.D. Connections Conference

Ph.D. Connections is a career conference designed to support doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in their exploration of career paths beyond academe. Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows will learn about career opportunities beyond the professoriate through engaging sessions with Ph.D.s working in diverse fields.

Learning Goals

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from the keynote presenter, Liz Segran, Ph.D. Segran, the author of The Rocket Years: How Your Twenties Launch the Rest of Your Life and a senior staff writer at Fast Company magazine, will wrap up a week of career related events. Co-sponsored by the University Career Center, Rackham Graduate School, and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Effectively Explore Careers Beyond the Professoriate

The goals of Ph.D. Connections are to enable students and postdoctoral fellows to:

  1. Develop strategies and build networks to effectively explore careers beyond the professoriate
  2. Gain increased awareness of careers available to Ph.D.s in a variety of sectors
  3. Learn about skills and key competencies that are important in different industries

Register for the Conference

Join us for the 2022 Ph.D. Connections Conference, Monday, March 21, to Thursday, March 24. Virtual sessions will be held throughout the week.

Register Today


March 21

Career Panel: Biotech, Healthcare, and Pharma Organizations

  • 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. EST

The combined impact of the biotech, pharma, and healthcare industries on the future of human health outcomes is huge. Ph.D. degree holders have many career options within these industries in areas that are related, but not limited to, scientific research. Panelists will discuss lessons from their career trajectories, describe their daily professional lives, and provide tips and tools to best prepare for launching new careers in these industries.


Career Panel: Non-Profit Organizations

  • 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EST

Careers in non-profit organizations tap into the expertise of Ph.D. holders from a variety of academic backgrounds, and utilize skills ranging from scientific expertise, program management, research, administration, and more. Panelists working on issues such as disease surveillance, sustainability, energy, health outcomes, environment and public policy, economics and politics will share their own career stories and provide insights on careers in the non-profit field.


March 22

Career Panel: Academic and Higher Education Institutions

  • 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. EST

Higher Education institutions offer a wide range of opportunities for Ph.D.s beyond the tenure track, including roles focused on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, work in the pedagogical space, and positions involved in various aspects of research. Panelists from a variety of disciplines will share their experiences in these types of roles and answer your questions about the ever evolving possibilities in the higher education sphere.


Career Panel: Consulting

  • 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EST

Panelists will share insights about the business challenges they take on in their consulting roles. The session will speak to what is required to uncover solutions for clients, the skills drawn upon to address issues, and the approaches used to solve complex problems. You will gain a better sense of how advanced degrees from a myriad of fields may translate to the consulting arena.


March 23

Career Panel: Government Organizations

  • 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. EST

Panelists from the Center for Economics in the Government Accountability Office (the audit function supporting Congress), the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Office of Biological Products in the FDA will share their experiences working in government. They will share information about their agencies, the opportunities and challenges they face, and share insights into what is necessary to launch a career in this arena.

  • Michael Hoffman, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Economics, Government Accountability Office
  • Portia Hemphill, Ph.D., Survey Statistician, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Neali Lucas, Ph.D., Director of Team Biologics Staff, Office of Biological Products Operations, Federal Department of Agriculture

Career Panel: Technology Organizations

  • 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. EST

The technology industry is rapidly expanding and generating interesting and rewarding career opportunities for Ph.D. holders with a variety of academic backgrounds. Panelists will share lessons learned from their own career paths and provide insights into applying your Ph.D. in the technology industry.


March 24

Keynote: Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D.

  • 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. EST

Introductory remarks will be made by Rackham Dean, Mike Solomon.

Elizabeth Segran will deliver the keynote address, A New Dream Job: Your Game Plan to Launching a Successful Career Outside the Academy

Elizabeth Segran smiles for the camera, she's wearing a black sleeveless top with matching bow, she has long black hair and brown eyes

Elizabeth Segran

Elizabeth Segran is a senior staff writer at Fast Company magazine, where she writes about fashion, design, and sustainability. Her writing has also been published in The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The Nation, and more. She is the author of The Rocket Years: How Your Twenties Launch the Rest of Your Life (Harper, 2020), where she delves into her transition from academia into journalism. She also translated an anthology of Tamil poetry called The River Speaks (Penguin, 2012).

She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in South Asian Studies with a specialization in women, gender, and sexuality, after graduating from Columbia University with a degree in English and South Asian Studies. She lives in Boston with her husband, Benjamin Schneer, a professor at the Kennedy School of Government, her two daughters, and her books.


The University Career Center, Rackham Graduate School, and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the Medical School would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of the conference planning committee members. Names of our committee members are listed below. Finally, the Ph.D. Connections planning committee would like to acknowledge several staff members from the University Career Center and Rackham Graduate School who each made significant contributions to the logistics and communications for this event; their names are also included below.

Ph.D. Connections Committee Chairs

Kirsten Elling, Ph.D.

Coordinator for Graduate Student Career Advancement, University Career Center

Maggie Gardner, Ph.D.

Program Lead, STEM Professional Development, Rackham Graduate School

Ph.D. Connections Committee Members

Veronica Beck, Ph.D.

Research Administration Fellow, Office of Research, University of Michigan Medical School

Beth Bodiya

Postdoc Coordinator, Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, University of Michigan Medical School

Kerin Borland

Director, University Career Center

Maureen Leonard

Meeting and Special Events Planner, Rackham Graduate School

Laura Schram, Ph.D.

Director, Professional and Academic Development, Rackham Graduate School

Shoba Subramanian, Ph.D.

Director, Curriculum and Educational Initiatives, Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, University of Michigan Medical School, and Adjunct Faculty, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

Additional Contributors

Rita Chin, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Social Sciences, Rackham Graduate School

Nate Hill

Social Media and Community Engagement Strategist, University Career Center

Andree Joyaux

Recruitment Coordinator, University Career Center

Angelicia Morton

Information Services Manager, University Career Center

Matt Nelson

Communications Director, Rackham Graduate School

Elyse Rubin

Senior Editor, Rackham Graduate School

Sally Schueneman

Career Events Manager, University Career Center

Michael Solomon, Ph.D.

Dean, Rackham Graduate School

Joelle Fundaro Randall

Assistant Director, University Career Center

Jameson Staneluis

Multimedia Designer, Rackham Graduate School

Marc Williams

Web Designer, Rackham Graduate School

Rackham Graduate School

Rackham Graduate School offers opportunities, funding, and resources that prepare students to access the wide range of career opportunities available to them. We want to help you:

  • Identify and expand your transferable skills
  • Discover the many career options available to you

The University Career Center

The University Career Center (a unit of Student Life) serves Ph.D. students in a variety of ways and offers expertise on how to conduct non-academic job searches. Ph.D. students are encouraged to access individual appointments, programs, and web resources designed to address their career needs.

The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS)

The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS) team uses a rigorous and tailored approach in their programs to meet the needs of their graduate, postdoctoral, and postbaccalaureate communities. OGPS programs are intended to empower learners in eight competency areas using a hands-on approach. The eight OGPS competencies include career awareness, skills assessment, knowledge and skill building, communication, learning by engagement, portfolio building, experiential discovery, and job search.