Career Guidance for Trainees

Funding Agency:
Burroughs Wellcome Fund

Moving from training to satisfying employment, whether within academe or in other realms, can require skills not always learned at the bench. Surveys show that what employers want from potential Ph.D. job applicants is what graduate education means to provide: deep knowledge, hands-on experience, ability to ask meaningful questions and find answers to them, experience managing projects, capacity to work independently, initiative, entrepreneurialism, and an advanced ability to communicate clearly about complex things. At the same time, students, postdocs, and mid-life career-changers describe frustrations with understanding how to articulate their skills and translate them to tasks beyond research.

Approaches that help trainees better acknowledge and acquire the skills expected of knowledge workers and efforts that help them understand career pathways will help them succeed in the workplace, whether as principal investigators, in long-term non-tenure track positions, in industrial careers, or away from the bench.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund will support pilot projects that demonstrate practical approaches to readying scientists for career transitions. Projects may be meant to enhance trainees’ understanding of jobs beyond the Academy, or of career trajectories within academe, or of the flexibility of scientists’ intellectual skill set.

We aim to advance good ideas that have the potential to be deployed at larger scales. FASEB’s Individual Development Plan, a tool that helps structure key conversations between trainee and advisor, and Preparing Future Faculty, a program that provides trainees opportunities to observe and experience faculty responsibilities, are two established programs (not developed with Burroughs Wellcome Fund support) that we point out as examples of high-impact career preparation opportunities developed at a pilot scale and then adopted across the nation.

Application Deadline: March 13, 2020

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must be in an accredited doctoral degree-granting institution or other professionally-focused non-profit in the United States or Canada. Applicant organizations may submit multiple proposals, but an individual may only serve as a principal investigator on one. 
  • For-profit companies may not submit applications or be supported by the award but may be included in proposed activities.
  • Eligible proposals will include rationale/vision for the project, including who it is intended to impact and how it will change their career readiness. Proposals will also describe, in detail, the project, how it will be delivered to trainees, strategies for evaluating its potential impact, and if successful, how the project could be expanded to reach more trainees.
  • Institutions and organizations that have received an earlier CGT award are eligible to apply again.



Amount Description

The Career Guidance for Trainees (CGT) program provides grants of about $30,000 (but up to $50,000) over a one-year period to support demonstration projects that will model affordable approaches to improving trainees’ readiness for stable, fulfilling careers, whether by clarifying and improving their basic “Ph.D.-level” skills, by helping them identify how they can best use their skills and interests to serve the needs of potential employers, by providing them approaches to thinking through their career options, or by other strategies.

It is anticipated that the average project budget will be $30,000, not to exceed $50,000 per award. $300,000 has been set aside to fund this group of pilot projects.

Funding Type





Curriculum Development
Medical - Basic Science

External Deadline

March 13, 2020