Building skills for career success: Project Management

Jin Liang, Lloyd Johnson (instructor), Masoud Golshadi, and Eunice Awuah

The Basic Project Management offered by AM&T on September 6, 2018 was held in Binghamton. Masoud Golshad(Clinical Sciences), Jin Liang (Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology), Eunice Awuah (Nutrition),and Varun Kopparthy (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) travelled together to attend this 8 hour workshop to learn how to successfully organize, manage and complete projects on time and on budget. See their feedback and takeaways below:

“This workshop provides a basic introduction to the project management. The workshop is very well organized and the material is very polished. There are some fun activities during the workshop to practice the material. I enjoyed the workshop and learned about project management.”-M. Golshadi

“The course introduced me to project management, which is essential to my current work and also future career prospects. It was great to learn formal practices and tools used in project management through this course. Although I currently manage research projects, the tools taught in the course will improve my approach to project management. I understand that positions in the industry require project management skills and to have this basic training will help in interviews and present strong qualifications.”-V. Kopparthy

“The most memorable part of the workshop was “The Tallest Tower” team building challenge which was broken up into two parts: [first] we were given specific team roles for building a tower with index cards but were not allowed to tell the other members of our group what our roles were. Then at the end of the workshop, we were given the same challenge with revealed roles and a budget for materials used to build our tower. What I learned is that project management involves being in charge of a lot of moving parts and that having a well thought out plan, budget, and timeline is key. After the workshop, I felt that we were given a very thorough overview of what the role of a successful project manager entails and how to incorporate the skills and tools into our daily lives.

As a PhD student, I feel that taking a project management course tailored to graduate research during my first two years would have been beneficial as we are often expected to learn these skills on our own as we go through the program. Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and will look for more opportunities through the BEST program to improve my project management skills.”-E. Awuah

“The program was an intense 8-hour workshop that provided an overview of the fundamental aspects of the project management. It included lectures as well as two mini group projects so that the participants did have some opportunity to apply what they learned in the lecture.

The program is most suitable for those who have some idea but still are relatively new to the project management or those who would like to fresh up the basic concepts. It may be overwhelming for someone who has never been introduced with any concept of project management and may be too fundamental for those with years of experiences.

Overall, I consider it an excellent training opportunity for BESTies because we are unlikely to have any formal project management training while we are performing project management-related tasks on a daily basis. While our tasks may appear entirely different from those in the industry, I do find that the concepts and strategies of project management applicable in the work of Ph.D. students and postdocs.” –J. Liang

This spotlight is from the time period of the NIH grant (Sept. 2013- Jun. 2019) to the Cornell BEST Program now housed in the Graduate School as a university-wide initiative “Careers Beyond Academia” to encompass all disciplines.