The previous ITCS team leads have published an article summarizing how to develop Job Simulation programs that enable trainees to gain relevant experience for industry careers. In addition, David Sealey, Anne Meyer-Miner, and Katelyn Kozma have created a poster Employment Outcomes of Life Science Industry Job Simulation Program Alumni at the University of Toronto—Where are They Now? that references this article as well as summarizes the impact of the ITCS program by tracing alumni (see details below).

Challenge

  • Life science graduate trainees may not be competitive in the industry job market if they do not have knowledge, skills and experience that employers can relate to
  • Experiential learning, including job simulation, can help trainees prepare themselves for the job market

Job Simulation Program @ Univ. of Toronto: Industry Team Case Study (ITCS)

  • Trainees (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows) work in teams on simulated industry projects with mentorship from professionals
  • Trainees
    1. Identify a business or policy challenge
    2. Conduct research and analysis
    3. Propose a solution to address the problem
    4. Present their findings to industry professionals
  • Mentors provide feedback on proposed topics and quality of the work, and explain complex aspects of their field
  • Program developed and operated by Science Career Impact Project and Life Sciences Career Development Society

Sector of first employment after completing degree/fellowship

  • 184 trainees participated in the job simulation program from 2016 to 2020 (p4)
  • As of Jan. 2021, 55% (58/106) of the trainees who had graduated / completed training were first employed in industry

  • Historical benchmark: 951 life science PhD graduates from 2012 to 2015; in 2016, 20% were employed in private sector (industry); see Methods (p4)

Job simulation program benefits

Paths to employment in industry

58 alumni graduated / completed training after the Industry Team Case Study job simulation and were first employed in industry

Many trainees pursued other development activities including internships in non-profit organizations and/or other training

>180 trainees participated in the job simulation program from 2016 to 2020

Methods

  • Publicly available data were retrieved from institutional sources (eg, University of Toronto Online Thesis repository, department websites), online networks (eg, LinkedIn) and other online sources (eg, PubMed) to identify training activities and employment outcomes of Industry Team Case Study job simulation program alumni
  • Data were current as of January 2021
  • To determine a historical benchmark rate for sector of employment, data were derived from the 10,000 PhDs Project, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto (Reithmeier et al. 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021 from www.sgs.utoronto.ca/about/Pages/10,000- PhDs-Project.aspx). From 2012 to 2015, there were 951 PhD graduates in life sciences (Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Public Health). Their employment as of 2016: post-secondary, 47%; private (industry), 20%; public, 18%; charitable, 4%; individual, 1%; unknown, 10%. These rates were not compared to the rates for the Industry Team Case Study alumni due missing data on potential confounding factors.

Conclusions

  • Life science job simulation program, internships and other training were associated with employment in industry
  • To prepare for industry employment, job simulation is an alternative or complement to an internship

Suggested Reading

Ready to get involved in simulated industry projects?

Stay tuned for this year’s ITCS program led by Bushra Yusuf and Marie-Eve Di Raddo!