As I enter the last few weeks of my graduate career, job hunting has become a major aspect of my daily life. The endless job list scouring and cover letter writing can be quite tiring. Fortunately, career fairs can provide a major boost in the job-hunting game by getting students directly in touch with employers who are actively looking for candidates just like you.

This year marked the third annual Biomedical Ph.D. Career Fair at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The fair has grown significantly since its inception, and this year included nearly 30 companies who were interested in meeting with Johns Hopkins students and postdoctoral fellows. Representatives from each company set up booths throughout the Turner Concourse area, and some companies also held larger informational sessions. Nearly every company had jobs available that they were actively recruiting to fill. Some companies even held on-site interviews to expedite the hiring process.

By applying in advance, students could be considered for an interview during the career fair, significantly cutting down on travel costs and time. There was also an opportunity for students to submit their resume to the Resume Book, a compilation of resumes that was put together by the career fair organizers and given to all employers who attended the fair.

The diversity of companies represented at the fair was well-matched with the many diverse career paths Ph.D. graduates can pursue. Companies ranged from small biotechnology companies with less than 30 employees to major pharmaceutical companies with thousands of employees and locations all around the world. Additionally, there were consulting firms and government career paths represented.

For Ph.D. students looking to continue to pursue bench research but wanting to leave academia, many of the companies at the career fair offered industry postdoctoral positions or similar positions that provide the same type of mentorship and development that an academic postdoctoral position offers. There were also many staff scientist and research scientist positions being offered. Beyond the world of bench science, career opportunities included managerial positions, engineering roles, policy analysts, technical and medical writing openings and more.

In addition to being a great opportunity for senior graduate students to network with companies and identify job leads, this career fair also serves as an opportunity for more junior students to get a taste for potential career paths. First- and second-year students could be found right alongside the fifth- and sixth-year students talking with recruiters and getting a feel for what it’s like to work at any of these companies. For many graduate students, interactions such as these will help shape their career aspirations as they continue their studies.

At times when funding and career opportunities in academia seem scarce, having alternative career options is essential. Career fairs such as this one provide invaluable networking and learning opportunities for graduate students. Even for those who are not entering the job market quite yet, it is always good to stay up to date with what types of skills companies are looking for in future employees. As for me, fingers crossed that I land the job I fell in love with thanks to this career fair!


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