- Anagha Kelkar-Sane
In spring 2013, after taking a year and a half off to start her family, Anagha Kelkar-Sane made a plan for her career. First step: enroll in UCSC Extension’s Biotechnology certificate program. Find an internship to gain practical experience. Apply for OPT and transition into her first job in Silicon Valley biotech. By July 2014, she had successfully completed the program, interned at a Bay Area research institution and landed a job in research and development at a Bay Area biotech firm.
What brought you to UCSC Extension?
I have a background in pharmaceutical technology and a master’s in bioprocess technology. I had couple of years of job experience from India but also had a career break after relocating to US and starting a family. I enrolled at UCSC Extension to restart my career here as full-time student.
Extension’s location in Santa Clara was convenient, and the classes were in the evenings and Saturdays, which helped me and my husband take turns with our son. As an international student, I had to take four to five courses every quarter to maintain my status, which was challenging, but I really enjoyed it.
I registered as an international student at UCSC Extension to get my F1 visa, eventually apply for OPT and the opportunity to work in California. I finished my certificate in March 2014 and found an internship with the SENS Research Foundation in Mountain View, where I got hands-on lab experience that helped me, along with my theoretical knowledge, when the time came to apply for jobs. My OPT started in May, and in July I got placed in one of the leading biotech companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What courses stood out to you?
I really enjoyed the classes, and even enjoyed doing the assignments. I especially liked the “Cellular Biology” and “Gene Expression and Pathways” class. I even enjoyed the online lectures, because I was actually learning by applying what our instructors had taught in lecture in our assignments.
The Biotechnology certificate helped me fill in the gaps in my knowledge and find a job. It helped me restart my career. I made the goal to study for one year, get on OPT, and find a job, and I was lucky enough that it all happened, one after the other.
Describe your internship experience.
I was lucky enough to find an internship at the SENS Research Foundation in Mountain View. Their work emphasizes regenerative medicine and they research how to treat age-related diseases. The scientists were really helpful and cooperative in teaching me and accommodating me to work on their projects with them.
In the biotech field, theoretical knowledge is important, but it’s only half of the picture. You have to have hands-on experience. As an intern I learned all the basic techniques in biotechnology there; it was really, really helpful to know that I could apply all the knowledge I learned in class to the projects I worked on with the scientists there.
What advice do you have for people considering a career in biotech?
I would advise students to imbibe “plan and execute” attitude. Things do work well if you plan properly. I also advise students that they must plan to do an internship along with the classes. In biotech, it’s really important to have practical knowledge. It’s helpful if you have laboratory skills and hands-on experience; you should know the basic molecular biology techniques and have good lab skills, along with the theoretical knowledge. Also when you go into any job in any industry, you have to acquire or adapt to a company’s way, and learn what the project needs are. It is also important to attain the “keep learning” attitude.
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