From the Editors
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Spotlight Preview: Elvis Cao
Join us as we chat with Elvis Cao, a Ph.D. candidate in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. While his thesis research focuses on technology for converting carbon dioxide to fuels, he is also an active entrepreneur: he has been awarded several honors, including being named one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30” for Energy, and at Cornell, he is pursuing an entrepreneurship minor and is the current vice-president of the Chinese Entrepreneur Association.
Read on to learn more about his journey in exploring careers beyond academia.
News and Spotlights
Careers Beyond Academia has expanded to all fields at the University!
Office hours will be held from 1 pm to 3 pm in Goldwin-Smith Hall, Room 234 on the following Fridays: 3/13, 3/27, 4/10, 4/24, and 5/8. Many events are specifically geared to Humanities students - don’t miss these events! Check our events calendar here.
Workshop: Create an Employer-Ready LinkedIn Profile (go to)
The next workshop will take place on March 25th. Seating is limited, so make sure to register here.
With over 660 million users and a host of skill-building tools, LinkedIn can be a powerful resource for networking and professional development. However, proper use of this valuable asset is key to successful outcomes when searching for a new employer, and even the most well-qualified individuals can have difficulty marketing themselves.
To help bridge this gap, Careers Beyond Academia regularly hosts LinkedIn Profile workshops. At these interactive workshops, participants learn tips on using LinkedIn and how to identify a good tagline. Armed with this knowledge, attendees receive feedback and edit their profiles to make them Employer-Ready.
"The workshop was helpful to understand what recruiters are looking for in a LinkedIn profile,” said Gabriel Soto, a 5th year PhD in Mechanical Engineering and past participant in the workshop..
The workshop also benefits from collaborative feedback: “It was helpful to hear from the other participants at the workshop, who all come from different fields at Cornell, about how they frame their experiences on their profiles and what companies they are looking at," Soto said.
Don't miss out! Keep up-to-date on upcoming events (go to)
By Liz Mahood
Blogging Beyond Academia
The why and how of outreach: why you should do it, and how you can turn it into a career (go to)
Click here to read more blog posts!
“You will impact the lives of other people, ... [meet] people with similar interests but different career trajectories, …and be required to communicate your science, or the science of others’, to a lay audience... [Anyone in STEM], no matter what their career paths are, should engage in STEM outreach.”
Liz Mahood highlights the benefits of STEM outreach, then sits down with Claire Fox, PhD candidate and co-founder of the STEM outreach non-profit Free Science Workshop, to discuss making a career in outreach.
What department are you in and what does your research focus on?
I’m currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. My research at Cornell has two lines: (1) HI-Light (thesis), a glass waveguide based photoreactor technology for converting CO2 to fuels; (2) FeverPhone, a smartphone-based molecular diagnostics platform for differential diagnosis of six acute febrile illness.
Were you interested in academia when you started graduate school? If so, what made you interested in exploring other options? If no, what were your career goals when starting your program?
I was interested in academia when I started graduate school – but I gradually realized that it’s getting increasingly competitive these days to be able to land a good position in academia, especially for R1 institutions. Then I started to keep my eyes open for other opportunities as well, and it turns out entrepreneurship could also fit my personal interest, and naturally, this becomes my plan B if academia does not work out.
What Careers Beyond Academia (or any other) activities or organizations helped you most in discovering your career interests and building additional skills? Did your career goals change through any of these?
I am most interested and involved with the public speaking and entrepreneurship activities of Careers Beyond Academia. I received the sponsorship from the program to travel to the 9th NYS Biotech Symposium in Syracuse and won the first place award in their poster competition (2017). I also participated in Ithaca’s March for Science Event (2017). I was selected by the Ixoraa Knowledge Foundation to speak about solar fuels in Jaisalmer, India (2019), was an invited speaker at IoT, Data, and the New Last Mile by TTI/Vanguard in Berkeley, CA (2019), and was featured by SPARK - Energy Re-Imagined to speak in the Carbon Capture Stream in London, UK (2020).
Right now, I am pursuing an entrepreneurship minor during my Ph.D. study, and am the current vice president of the Chinese Entrepreneur Association at Cornell. I think the learning process enabled me to see my strengths and how this could fit into my longer-term career development.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I loved fishing – though I’m not good at it. I used to go fishing in Stewart Park with my undergrad mentee, Tao Hong, who was a senior in Materials Engineering back then. It was a great experience as I enjoyed the friendship beyond research collaboration. Tao received the Bill Nye '77 Award in Undergrad Research (2019) when he was working with me, and I think our experience of fishing together might have played a role.
Do you have questions about the Careers Beyond Academia program or career exploration?
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