Create Your Own Activity

Funding support for professional development

Careers Beyond Academia offers awards of up to $1000 on a rolling basis to doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars for customized experiential opportunities to enhance your career and professional skills. Priority is given to applicants who have considered the guidelines detailed on this webpage and have met with our staff to hone their idea.

Careers Beyond Academia has a budget for participant-initiated activities and encourages creative approaches that might combine your current research with a desired career experience. We encourage innovative, collaborative projects that are outside the box intending to broaden opportunities for participants as well as the Cornell Ph.D. and postdoctoral community at large. On occasion, we also offer to reimburse travel to non-Cornell associated events. There is little to no cost to attend most activities listed on our events calendar and opportunities listings if you let us know you are interested. We hope to augment and facilitate participants’ work by making additional opportunities available that were not otherwise accessible.

Submissions for funding are considered on a rolling basis. Please contact us at to have a conversation before submitting an application. We will work with you to hone the request and ensure it is in alignment with our mission. We might also be able to help direct you to other sources of support.

Tips to Request Funding Support

Start with your intention: Why do you want to do this, and why is this the best way to get this experience, skill, or knowledge? How will it impact your career choice? Have you spoken to  Careers Beyond Academia staff to make sure it aligns with our mission?

Have you looked into competitive offerings? Are there any? How is this one better than another existing opportunity on campus, or within a three hour drive?

Have you already made use of local or free online resources (classes, events, speakers, mentors, etc.) that provide some background knowledge? How have these experiences led you to understand what is required and valued in this career path?

Funders want to know the impact their investment will have and that you will not be the only one to benefit. Don’t make them wonder what you will get out of it, how you justify the value, and why it’s absolutely essential for your future success. Can you offer to teach others what you learn after the experience? Is this of interest to a larger community? Will you work together with others who have also shown an interest? When you send a request that sounds like it’s ‘nice to have’ as opposed to something closer to ‘I can’t succeed without it’, it gives an easier way for supporters to say no.

Like with any investment, no one wants to take all the risk. They want to know you have some skin in the game. Are you willing to find/offer your own free housing or carpool with others? Have you contacted the organizer(s) to inquire whether they have sponsorships/discounts for students or funds from the organization? How about the sponsors listed, would they consider a request? If they have all said no, or at least you are intending to ask them, then it is more clear you have explored other avenues and exhausted other possibilities. If they have already said yes, then indicate clearly the total cost and who will cover what aspect. Don’t make anyone do any work to find out how much you are asking for. Have a budget spreadsheet on the total cost (airfare? meals? hotel? ground transport? registration? what’s included? what are you paying for? who else has committed to supporting you?)

How will you provide feedback to determine the value of the experience for you and others? How will you share the outcomes?

Also, do include a deadline for a response, especially the deadline for early registration, for example, and send it in a timely fashion so reviewers have a reasonable time frame within which to work.

We follow the standards and practices as developed by the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE), whose eight principles were presented at their 1998 annual meeting.

Still interested? Ready to apply for funding?

Please submit your Funding Support Request.

Examples of participants’ previous activities:

  • Lead a group trip to Albany to meet with policymakers, legislative staff, and researchers whose work is regulated by policy.
  • Lead a graduate student organization, garner sponsorship, organize a communication workshop, connect with alumni, and rally an Ithaca contingent to march for science in Washington, D.C.
  • Create and market a field-specific workshop series, inviting speakers to conduct skill-building case studies/exercises to immerse participants in their world of work.
  • Lead a team to co-organize the 4th ComSciCon-Cornell, get a grant to support it, present the results at a national AAAS meeting, rebrand the communication conference ComSciCon-NY, and pass the torch to next year’s team.
  • Organize a panel as part of a symposium.
  • Meet an industry speaker at a panel, then lead a shadowing experience at the company.
  • Attend an industry conference, then present takeaways at a departmental seminar.
  • Pitch an idea, select applicants from multiple fields, organize logistics, and travel together to a career exploration conference, then lead debriefing discussions and summarize what was learned.
  • Create a career panel for peers: Identify a career pathway, research potential speakers (preferably alumni), create a topic of discussion, and invite and facilitate relationships with speakers; work with a team of your peers to manage the event from invitations to registration, and moderate the panel and follow up with participants on customer satisfaction.
    • Creating a career panel involved reaching out with emails, private messages through social media, or phone calls to ask if the panelists would be interested in speaking with Ph.D. students and postdocs at Cornell University; explaining what the key points are to share; and thinking about the job demands, tasks, and how their jobs make a difference.
  • Moderate a panel discussion (we can provide guidance with pro tips to be a great moderator).
  • Invite speakers to discuss their careers in governance, risk, and compliance.
  • Request support for membership to a career related trade organization or professional society (e.g. Licensing Executive Society, Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) to network with members in a geographic region.