The day began with opening remarks from Dr. Howard Lipshitz and Dr. Leah Cowen, followed by two roundtable discussions between the mentors and trainees. Trainees were thoughtfully matched with mentors that best suited their career interests. Discussions were lively and could have continued for another hour had there been time. Conveniently, there was a coffee break, allowing mentors to fuel up on caffeine and sugar, while trainees could continue to network.

A panel discussion was next on the agenda and featured seven of MoGen’s most illustrious graduates, spanning an impressive array of different career backgrounds. From the joys of working for the US government to patent law to being CEO of your own company, there was something of interest and of value to everyone. There were many memorable moments that had everyone chuckling, especially a certain Department Chair, but here are a few nuggets of wisdom that were shared:

  1. Everyone experiences a quarter-life crisis. You need to brave through it, do some self-exploration, and it will pass.
  2. If you are interested in pursuing a postdoc, do it in Europe!
  3. Try not to plan more than 5 years ahead. You never know where life will take you.
  4. The two-body problem is a real concern, but everyone’s situation is different. You and your partner will need to figure out a compromise that works best for the both of you. Or just listen to what your wife tells you to do.
  5.  Follow your passions and don’t be afraid to change things up.

Closing remarks were delivered by Dr. Julie Claycomb and Dr. Allan Kaplan, and the day concluded with a wine and cheese networking reception. Drinks were plentiful, which correlated nicely with the lively discussions. The food was excellent and never-ending. This may have been the first MoGen event in history where there were leftovers.

Overall, only positive comments could be heard and trainees appeared to be excited and optimistic on where their graduate school education could take them. Amanda Veri, a career development ambassador who helped execute the event, thought that it was a huge success: “I learned about a lot of careers that I had not considered before and even had the opportunity to reconnect with peers who had recently graduated, strengthening the connections between people in my current network. We always hear the same career advice over and over, that networking is important, and so it's great that the symposium was an easy way to network with a lot of really successful alumni”.