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Leaders for the Future

Explore options and develop the skills you'll need to excel in diverse careers in industry, government, NGOs and more.

Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars: connect with applied experiences beyond academia through immersives while growing your business skills.

Applications for the 2022/23 program are now open. We are accepting applications on a rolling basis.

Apply now

Find out if Leaders for the Future is a good fit for you with this video of our recent info session with program staff and alumni.

Watch the info session


The business world is very different from the realm of academics in terms of timelines, teamwork, communication and culture. This program helps Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars in all disciplines—humanities, social sciences and STEM—differentiate themselves on the job market by supplementing academic accomplishments with innovation, communication, and leadership and business skills gained and applied outside the university setting. 

Leaders for the Future is a collaboration between the Internship and Career CenterGradPathways Institute and the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

In this nine-month program you will:
  • Learn how to communicate with impact, with a focus on what academics say vs. what business hears
  • Nexus work—a/k/a build your professional networks
  • Become skilled at business writing and presentations
  • Explore making the leap into a business or startup career
  • Create a powerful resume
  • Learn to ace job interviews
  • Gain the confidence and strategies to successfully negotiate job offers
Learn more

View info session slide deck

Meet program alumni

male postdoc wearing striped shirt and standing in academic building
Aveek Das | Ph.D. 2018 | Researcher, Palo Alto Networks

I did an internship at Siemens, working as a data scientist building a prediction model to understand how fossil fuel plants would generate electricity in the future. Working on a project end-to-end, I got to learn new tools and data science-related libraries, and applied the same to a rich dataset.

Snapshot: Your Year as a Fellow

To successfully complete the program, you must:

  • Attend the opening reception and one-day introductory bootcamp
  • Attend and participate in the full workshop series
  • Attend a career fair
  • Attend and participate in the UC Entrepreneurship Academy
  • Complete an internship, job shadow, project management assignment or other immersive experience 
  • Present at the Final Presentations and Closing Reception gathering

Leaders for the Future workshops and events in academic year 2022/23 will take place in-person at UC Davis.

Eligibility and Requirements

Successful applicants are:

  • A current UC Davis Ph.D. student or postdoctoral scholar (title codes 3252, 3253, 3254, 3255 or 3256) in any discipline.
  • In an academic program or appointment for the duration of the Leaders for the Future program.
  • Ph.D. candidates must be on active student status (not on filing fee status or PELP) during the program. Priority given to those who have completed qualifying exams by program start. (Next cohort: September 2023)

We give priority to applicants who articulate their intent to participate in an immersive experience.

woman grad student in her lab and wearing blue lab coat
Rylie Ellison | Ph.D. 2020, Agricultural & Environmental Chemistry | Science Technology Policy Fellow, California Council on Science and Technology

Between my immersive experience in state government and talking to all sorts of different people through this program, I got a lot of communication experience and learned about other areas of research that I can take with me into a future in science communication and policy.

Required Activities

  • Events
    Event Date/Time Location
    Opening Gear Up
    StrengthsFinder sent in advance
    Monday, 09.12.22
    9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Walker Hall, West Conference Room
    UC Entrepreneurship Academy Tuesday– Friday, 09.13.22 – 09.16.22 UC Davis Alumni Center
    Workshop #1
    Career Studio: Resumes + Career Fair Preparation
    Thursday, 10.06.22
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room TBD
    Workshop #2
    Nexus Work: Intentional Network Building
    Thursday, 10.27.22
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room 2310
    Workshop #3
    Career Studio: Interviewing / Mock Interviews
    Thursday, 11.17.22
    Noon–2 p.m.

    Gallagher Hall, Room TBD

    Workshop #4
    Making the Leap Panel + Dinner
    Thursday, 12.01.22
    5:30 – 8 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room 2310
    Workshop #5
    Career Studio: Topic TBD
    Thursday, 01.12.23
    Noon–2 p.m.

    Gallagher Hall, Room TBD

    Workshop #6
    Business Writing
    Thursday, 01.26.23
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room TBD
    Workshop #7
    Pitching Like a Pro
    Wednesday, 02.15.23
    6–8 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room TBD
    Workshop #8
    Communicating Impact
    Thursday, 02.23.23
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room TBD
    Workshop #9
    Career Studio: Topic TBD
    Thursday, 03.23.23
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room TBD
    Workshop #10
    Final Presentation Preparation + Peer Feedback
    Tuesday, 04.06.23
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room TBD
    Final Presentations + Closing Reception Thursday, 04.20.23
    9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room 1213
  • Career Fairs
  • Event Date / Time Virtual Location
    Internship and Career Fair (attend one during the academic year) TBD

    Internship and Career Center

  • How to Apply
  • Applications are open for the 2022/23 academic year.

    Apply now

    1. Complete the application, which includes two short-answer essay questions and an uploaded cover letter, resume or CV.
    2. Email a letter of recommendation from a major professor or principal investigator to Senior Program Manager Niki Peterson.
    3. Group interview for select applicants.



Please contact a Leaders for the Future program coordinator: 

  • David Blancha, GradPathways Institute for Professional Development
  • Niki Peterson, Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Lyndsey Ruiz, Internship and Career Center