PhD graduates and students participating in the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) program are more likely to actively pursue an industry career, a recent survey has found.
The survey, conducted by the Academy of Technology and Engineering’s (ATSE’s) IMNIS initiative, found the majority of IMNIS alumni either work in industry or are actively pursuing or considering an industry career, compared to only about 30 per cent of PhD graduates not participating in the program.
ATSE established IMNIS in 2015 to build connection and collaboration between the private sector and academia, and equip PhD graduates with professional skills and senior networks in industry.
IMNIS mentees from the pilot program in 2015/16 and subsequent national programs in 2017/18 and 2018/19 were surveyed on their attitudes towards engaging with industry. Over half of the respondents (53 per cent) have completed their PhD.
ATSE CEO Kylie Walker said IMNIS is fostering a culture shift between industry and academia, toward more collaboration and innovation.
“It is increasing students’ understanding of a huge range of potential careers enabled by a STEM qualification, as well as showing leaders in industry the value today’s STEM PhD graduates could bring to their organisation and to building a more innovative Australian economy,” Ms Walker said.
The survey found 97 per cent of mentees were either collaborating, keen to collaborate or were considering collaborating with industry.
A participant in the IMNIS medical technology and pharmaceuticals program in 2017-18, said while she was a PhD student she was interested in pursuing a career in industry but wasn’t sure how to transition from academia.
“The IMNIS program really helped highlight the crucial role of networking and I was fortunate enough for my mentor to introduce me to her colleagues, who are leaders in their fields,” she said.
“Networking during my PhD allowed me to connect with a wide variety of people, expand my network and helped me to understand the types of industry roles available.”
A third of mentees said the IMNIS program revealed novel ideas or had inspired them to take a new direction with their research, with 8 per cent now working on an entirely different research project.
Almost half said that since IMNIS their research had slightly changed direction; while one-third said it had done this, with 8 per cent now working on an entirely different research project.
Enduring networks were another benefit of the program, with more than two-thirds of IMNIS students staying in contact with their mentor after their program ended.
IMNIS has attracted over 500 influential industry leaders to mentor Australia’s future workforce; these include Board Chairs and Directors, C-suite executives, General Managers and Partners from small, medium and large enterprises in medical technologies, pharmaceuticals, research and development, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, resources and related services, artificial intelligence, space, accounting and consulting, as well as several start-ups.
IMNIS (Industry Mentoring Network in STEM) is an award-winning industry-led initiative of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. IMNIS connects motivated PhD students (mentees) in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with outstanding high level industry leaders (mentors) in a one year industry mentoring program.
IMNIS provides Australia’s future STEM leaders the opportunity to engage with industry, extend their professional network, strengthen their professional skills and get advice from an influential industry mentor. Student mentees learn what it takes to succeed in any part of the STEM ecosystem, gain a better understanding of how industry works and learn about career opportunities in other professional sectors.