Skip to main content
Cornell University


Friday, January 19, 2018
BESTies trek to Boston to explore industry careers

Visits to Biogen and Vertex. Tours of facilities. Talks with biotech professionals. Networking with alumni.

A great way to test if this career path is for you!

BESTies Daniel CheungYehudah PardoBunyarit Meksiriporn and Frank He took advantage of the College of Engineering Career Services trip, organized by Christa Downy, guided by Newton DeFaria, and topped off with support by the BEST Program to learn more about what it's like to work in Boston, specifically at a biotechnology firm.

Here's what these BESTies say the trip did for them:

"The Greater Boston area is known as a world-class hub for biotechnology, making it a very attractive place for Biomedical Engineering (BME) doctoral students seeking post-graduate opportunities. On Jan 17th, 2018, the Cornell Engineering Career Services organized a career trek for BME students to visit Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston and Biogen in Cambridge. We toured the laboratories, participated in panel discussions, and networked with Cornell University alumni. Because we opted to stay an extra day, we had the opportunity to re-connect with colleagues in the Boston area. Overall, the trek was highly rewarding. We gained insight into Boston's robust biotech ecosystem, made valuable connections, and have collectively become much more motivated in our job search."-Frank He

"The Boston BME trek was a unique opportunity to speak to many different industry scientists in one relatively short period of time and gain a broader perspective on what a career in industry entails.  We visited both Vertex pharmaceuticals and Biogen, speaking to a number of employees (nearly, if not all Cornell alumni) at each location. The individuals with whom we interacted came from a broad array of fields ranging from biomedicine/ biomedical engineering to statistics, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering.  The diversity of experiences helped better illuminate the variety of industry career paths.  In addition, the trip provided an excellent chance to build our networks.  Since the Boston area has a particularly high density of biomedical companies, such connections could be invaluable for advancing our careers in the future."-Yehudah Pardo

"During the Boston BME Trek, we visited two biopharmaceutical companies Vertex and Biogen to speak with Cornell BME alumni about their experiences at the company and their path to their current position.

At Vertex, the senior panelists (e.g. Principal, Associate Director, etc.) gave us an overview of their pathway to the company, their different jobs in their department/field in relation to the company’s goals, and additional tips to be successful in industry. Most of the panelists had PhDs and some had postdoc experiences, so it was also good to hear their input on comparing and contrasting industrial research and academic research. While we were not able to tour the facilities in detail, their presentations gave me insights into the company’s culture and values.

Similarly, at Biogen, there were a handful of Cornell alumni with a mixture of senior and junior employees to answer our questions about the company, projects they were working on, and their pathway into Biogen. Additionally, we were able to tour part of the labs and facilities.  

In addition to the site visits, I was able to connect with three fellow BME alumni (one of whom was part of the BEST program) to learn about their current experiences. Two are post-docs, but one works in a small pharmaceutical and the other at MIT. Both have aspirations to eventually work in industry, so it was interesting to contrast their post-doc experiences in terms of industry vs. academia.

Overall, through this event, I learned about the companies’ cultures and values. Additionally, I was able to connect with several employees at both companies and learned about potential opportunities I want to pursue, including internships.

I want to thank the BEST program for sponsoring this opportunity for the PhD students because I would not have had the chance to go otherwise."-Daniel Cheung