The Just-A-Start Biomedical Careers Program is a very intensive, eight-month preparatory program that gives adults from diverse backgrounds the solid foundation in science they need to begin an entry level career in the biopharmaceutical industry. During the first half of the program, we teach them introductory cell and molecular biology, microbiology, general chemistry and the basics of organic and biochemistry. Along the way, we strive to improve their communication skills using a range of opportunities to practice. These include group discussions, written reports, and presentation of scientifically relevant topics. One afternoon each week is dedicated to teaching the most common computer programs for business applications, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, and file sharing.
The second half of the program focuses on laboratory skills. We begin with very basic concepts and progress through current procedures used in molecular biology and protein purification. These lessons are augmented by multiple visits to local academic and industrial labs. By the end of the course, our students will have accumulated close to 300 hours of hands-on, practical experience in the lab. They will also have a solid understanding of what kind of jobs they want to pursue themselves.
In addition to these academic classes, we hold a weekly biotechnology seminar, in which they learn about issues relevant to this industry with an emphasis on local companies, the types of jobs available, and current events affecting the industry. This class provides the opportunity to contextualize the scientific concepts learned in their other classes and shows the students the relevance of the science to their future working life.