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11th Biennial Graduate and Postdoctoral Career Day

Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15 and 16, 2021

Graduate students and postdocs work with Graduate Career Services in the Office of Graduate Education to plan Graduate and Postdoctoral Career Day to showcase the variety of career options and experiences available to PhD and master’s graduates in the life sciences and public health.

Participants will learn about a wide range of career options and have the opportunity to network with a variety of professionals including Penn State alumni.

Graduate students and postdocs will be representative of anatomy, biomedical sciences, biostatistics, neuroscience, epidemiology, public health, the MD/PhD Program and other dual degrees, as well as related departments.

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Event Format

Pre-recorded panel sessions Expand answer

For the first time, this event will be held virtually with nine pre-recorded 60-minute panel sessions moderated by Penn State graduate students and postdocs from various disciplines.

Graduate students and postdocs will be able to view these sessions on demand during the week leading up to Career Day.

The panel sessions will consist of three to five professionals who will speak and answer pre-submitted questions. Each panel will have a moderator who will introduce the speakers, guide the discussion and direct questions.

Several topics will be addressed, including:

  • Aspects of degree training the panelists found most useful
  • Necessary experiences to get started in related fields
  • Insights for students/postdocs interested in pursuing relevant careers
  • A description of a typical day in each panelist’s position/role

Career/topic areas include:

  • Academic teaching
  • Academic research
  • Government
  • Industry
  • Science communication
  • Medical affairs
  • Business
  • Public health
  • Postdocs

Information and links to the pre-recorded sessions will be available via Canvas.

Live networking sessions Expand answer

Graduate students and postdocs will also have the opportunity to network with panelists live via Zoom breakout rooms on Oct. 15 and 16.

Information and links to the live networking sessions will be available via Canvas.

Additional details are available in the schedule on this page.


Oct. 15, 2021: Keynote speaker and career networking happy hour Expand answer

This serves as the virtual kickoff event for Career Day, featuring a keynote speaker followed by breakout rooms where students, postdocs and panelists will be able to meet each other and network.

  • 5 to 6 p.m. | Keynote speaker Roshni Rao, PhD
  • 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. | Career networking happy hour

Keynote: Roshni Rao, PhD, on “Lessons Learned While Designing My PhD Career”

Roshni Rao (she/her/hers) is the inaugural director of PHutures, a career hub at Johns Hopkins University where she helps PhDs and Postdocs design and discover meaningful careers. In her work as an educator, Dr. Rao utilizes innovative programming to connect students to ideas and to opportunities. Whether that is launching the first PhD hiring event, interviewing inspiring personalities or encouraging students individually, Dr. Rao is passionate about creating a fulfilling graduate and postgraduate experience for PhDs.

A proponent for diversity and inclusion, she is a thought leader on PhD careers, often advocating for underrepresented and international docs. For her efforts in promoting an inclusive graduate experience at Hopkins, she was recently recognized by the Johns Hopkins Diversity Leadership Council to receive the 2021 Diversity Recognition Award.

In her previous role as associate director at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), she helped postdocs transition into fulfilling scientific careers and most notably engaged and reenergized the community by building and branding a new wellness program. For her efforts in enhancing postdoctoral professional development, Dr. Rao received the Kelly Distinguished Service Award at the NIA.

Dr. Rao believes that the career choices she has made are related to her personal experience as a graduate student. Seeing how graduate students, especially international and underrepresented-minority students, navigated their PhD without mentorship or guidance and sometimes had limited knowledge about their options, she decided that a meaningful career would be to help others in their journey and create accessible and scalable ways to share knowledge and experiences.

She holds a PhD in biomedical sciences from the University of South Carolina and previously received a postgraduate diploma in science from the University of Otago, New Zealand, and a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and chemistry from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore, India.

Oct. 16, 2021: Live networking sessions Expand answer
  • 8:45 to 9 a.m. | Opening remarks
  • 9 to 9:45 a.m. | Medical affairs panel
  • 9:45 to 10:30 a.m. | Public health panel
  • 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. | Academic teaching panel
  • 11:15 a.m. to noon | Academic research panel
  • Noon to 1 p.m. | Lunch break
  • 1 to 1:45 p.m. | Government panel
  • 1:45 to 2:30 p.m. | Science communication panel
  • 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. | Postdoc panel
  • 3:15 to 4 p.m. | Business panel
  • 4 to 4:45 p.m. | Industry panel
  • 4:45 to 5 p.m. | Wrap-up

Further Information

Registration Expand answer

Registration will open in early fall 2021.

Graduate students and postdocs will receive email notification when registration opens.

Career Day Committee Expand answer
Contact Expand answer

Career Day co-chairs

  • Rebecca Fleeman, PhD candidate, Biomedical Sciences –
  • Joseph Cirilo, PhD candidate, Biomedical Sciences –

Director of Graduate Career Services