guy in field at sunset

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.

Please check back to apply for our 2024/25 cohort.


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. 

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.

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.
Learn more

View info session slide deck

Meet our 2022/23 Leaders for the Future fellows

Watch an info session with program staff and alumni

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 2024)

Note: 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, 09.11.23
    9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall
    Room 2310
    UC Entrepreneurship Academy Tuesday– Friday, 09.19.23 – 09.22.23 UC Davis Conference Center
    Workshop #1
    Career Prep: Personal Branding
    Wednesday, 10.11.23
    Noon–1 p.m.

    Gallagher Hall
    Room 2310

    Workshop #2
    Nexus Work: Intentional Network Building

    Thursday, 10.26.23
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall
    Room 2310

    Workshop #3
    Career Studio: Transferrable Skills

    Thursday, 11.16.23
    Noon–2 p.m.

    Gallagher Hall
    Room 2310

    Workshop #4
    Making the Leap Panel + Dinner

    Wednesday, 11.29.23
    5:30–8 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall, Room Room 1213

    Workshop #5
    Career Studio: Interviewing/Mock Interviews 

    Thursday, 01.11.24
    Noon–2 p.m.

    Gallagher Hall
    Room TBD

    Workshop #6
    Business Writing

    Thursday, 01.25.24
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall
    Room TBD

    Workshop #7
    Communicating Impact 

    Thursday, 02.22.24
    6–8 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall
    Room TBD

    Workshop #8
    Pitching Like a Pro

    Wednesday, 03.13.24
    6–8 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall
    Room TBD

    Workshop #9
    Career Studio: Imposter Syndrome

    Thursday, 03.21.24
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall
    Room TBD

    Workshop #10
    Final Presentation Preparation + Peer Feedback

    Thursday, 04.04.24
    Noon–2 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall
    Room TBD

    Final Presentations + Closing Reception


    Thursday, 04.18.24
    9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    Gallagher Hall
    Room 1213
  • Career Fairs
  • Event Date / Time Location
    Internship and Career Fair (attend one during the academic year) TBD

    Internship and Career Center or online

  • How to Apply
  • 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.



Niki Peterson

Please contact Senior Program Manager Niki Peterson.