One-to-One platform increases social capital and connection required for long-term student success

Life Science Cares Boston today announced the launch of One-to-One, a platform connecting students underrepresented in the industry with career exploration opportunities and strong professional networks.

One-to-One matches students from low-income backgrounds, are first generation, and/or identify as students of color with life science professionals from diverse roles and backgrounds for conversations intended to increase students’ interest in the fast-growing life science industry. One-to-One also provides students the opportunity to practice networking and other soft skills that are critical to long term career success.

Supported in part with a grant from LabCentral Ignite, a platform to collaboratively build racial and social equity in life sciences, One-to-One is launching with volunteers from 11 life science companies and students from partner organizations including Emmanuel College, Massasoit Community College, Bottom Line, Minds Matter Boston and more. As students fill out profiles and answer questions about their interests and lived experiences, the One-to-One platform curates a list of professionals with similar interests or experiences. Students are empowered to review professional profiles and reach out directly to schedule career conversations.

“Many of us in the life sciences can point to a time in our lives where we benefited from a friend, family or community connection,” said Life Science Cares Boston Executive Director Sarah MacDonald. “One-to-One levels the playing field and ensures that motivated, talented students have a chance to build a network and explore new opportunities for careers in our fast-growing, mission-driven industry.”

Assisted by a new technology that matches students with professionals on a variety of indicators, One-to-One has enormous potential to serve many more students in the future, and beyond Boston. It also provides the industry with a high-impact, scalable model to direct employees interested in supporting the next generation of talent.

Massasoit Community College President Ray DiPasquale is thrilled at the opportunity to provide students with direct exposure to industry.

“At Massasoit, we know the value of first-hand experience in regards to STEM. Our students can contribute to graduate-level research projects during their first year with us,” said Massasoit President Ray DiPasquale. “Life Science Cares’ One-to-One program will give our students new experiences in networking, professional development, and learning directly from leaders in the field – an invaluable opportunity as they plan their futures.”

Home to more than 1,400 life science companies, Massachusetts offers robust opportunities for students to build meaningful careers in the industry.

“One of the best parts of Emmanuel College’s Boston location is the opportunity to engage with organizations like Life Science Cares and local companies. Our students are afforded this incredible opportunity to connect with and be exposed to life science industry leaders,” said Tracey Clingingsmith, Program Director of Employer Relations at Emmanuel College.

One-to-One complements traditional mentorship programs by helping students build “weak ties”– relationships that bridge students to entirely new networks. Social capital research shows such ties are critical to long term career success as they can unlock new information and opportunities that otherwise would be difficult to find or access.

Emmanuel College senior Michelle Oliveria participated in an early pilot of One-to-One and made meaningful connections.

“I think everyone should participate in the One-to-One program. It’s beneficial to explore different career paths that you don’t know about and get that extra practice to speak with new people in those jobs. It’s a skill that never goes away,” said Oliveria, a biology major.

Krista Licata, managing director of LabCentral Ignite, has seen the positive impact of professional introductions for young scientists within LabCentral’s population of life sciences companies.

“Over the last eight years, we’ve witnessed the undeniable value of new researchers engaging with professionals in our community,” said Licata. “By leveraging these connections, we frequently see them returning for second or third internships with different startups across our facilities, and forging a path to their next opportunity. That first introduction is so crucial in catalyzing careers, but it’s one of the biggest gaps for many young people interested in entering biotech, reinforcing racial and socioeconomic inequities. One-to-One helps to solve this problem, and LabCentral Ignite is thrilled to be able to support it.”

One-to-One’s engagement directly with local higher education institutions and community-based nonprofits is an important step for the life sciences industry to identify diverse, talented students early and begin moving them through the rest of the recruitment pipeline. Through these career conversations, industry professionals outside of human resource functions can also participate in career awareness building by interacting with students, many of whom have not previously considered careers in the life sciences.

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