SPARK: A Professional Development Workshop

January 24th, 2018
GSG presents

SPARK: A Professional Development Workshop



A series of power packed sessions on life building skills that will help make your journey of entrepreneurship, job search, career growth and self–development productive and successful!

WHEN:    January 24th, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

WHERE:  MUB Ballroom B




9:00 -10:20 am Optimizing your conference and/or career fair experience
10.25 – 11:25 am The Interview: What you need to do before, during, and after to get the job, with tips on Negotiation strategy and tactics
11:30 – 12:30 pm Navigating the International Job Search


1:00 – 2:00 pm Exploring Careers in Entrepreneurship
(Spoiler Alert: There’s more here than launching your own start-up!)
2:05 – 3:05 pm Becoming a challenge agent with tips on including diversity and innovation in your work
3:10 – 4:15 pm Conflict resolution
4:30- 5:30 pm Networking for Nerds: How to Create Your Dream Career
5:30-6:00 pm Book Signing


Optimizing your conference and/or career fair experience

There is value in every conference and career fair you attend. Learn how to identify and extract that value. Discover how to get the most out of attending an academic or industry conference and career fair, how to behave with speakers and recruiters, how to meet the most important people, and how to identify the most valuable sessions, events, and other experiences at the conference and career fair. Conference and career fair etiquette (behavior and dress) and follow-up will also be discussed.

The Interview: What you need to do before, during, and after to get the job

When does the interview begin? Much sooner than you think: it starts from the first point of contact you have with someone from the organization. And when does it end? Only when the offer is extended and accepted. Learn how to convert conversations and networking into interviews and interviews into job offers. Discover what you need to know and do throughout the interview process to demonstrate your value to the institution and land the job. We will discuss common mistakes that job seekers make, and specific ways in which you can give yourself a competitive edge in the interview. Both academic and non-academic interviewing tactics will be addressed. The session will also cover negotiation strategies and tactics, where you will learn how to create a win-win situation and negotiate right from start to finish in the job decision process.

Exploring Careers in Entrepreneurship: (Spoiler Alert: There’s more here than launching your own start-up!)

Thinking of starting your own business or consultancy? Or perhaps you are interested in working in or with an entrepreneurial venture? This presentation will address careers in entrepreneurship, of which there are many. And for those of you interested in being the entrepreneur, how to design a plan that will incorporate your career goals with your interests, passions, and skills. Learn about the basics of launching your own company, developing your brand, and finding and solidifying customers. The basic elements of marketing, IP protection, and understanding and selling your services and products will also be addressed. We will also develop contingency plans and discuss the role of failure in your career.

Navigating the International Job Search

Applying for a job in one country while finishing up your education and training in another can be challenging, but it can be done with success. In this workshop we will discuss specific strategies to finding jobs in another country while one is abroad and how to leverage your networks incountry to access opportunities, especially those that are hidden. Special emphasis will be placed on establishing your reputation as a leader in your field with professionals in the country or region in which you wish to work. Case studies will be shared.

Becoming a challenge agent

When you see a pain point or a wall impeding innovation or an opportunity for change, how do you challenge the status quo? How do you identify and affect challenge in your life, organization, and team in a way that has the maximum impact? In this session, I will discuss the strategies to become a Challenge Agent- a leader who looks for chances to challenge the status quo, implements and affects change and challenge in safe ways, and in the process, empowers themselves, their organization, and their team. I will note the techniques one must adopt if they are to keep challenge and reinvention a priority, and I will also clarify what are the specific tactics that professionals can employ in their personal and professional experiences and in their organizations to safely identify and grow challenge agents, and ensure continued creative output in their field as they continue to reinvent, reignite, and re-innovate! Case studies from Amazon and other organizations demonstrating how engineers challenged and toppled the status quo will be highlighted, and we will also discuss how you can create mechanisms in your ecosystem to encourage challenge and challenge agents. Without challenge, we cannot grow, advance, innovate. Here we will celebrate challenge and challenge agents for the benefit of our lives and organizations.

Innovation and diversity. The session will highlight why a diversity of ideas for individuals is a crucial factor in deciding a person’s success and should be understood and utilized as a tactical guideline for professional triumph and advancement. Participants will learn how to make the most of diversity to add value to your career development, master and employ professional skills to make you indispensable in your job, build and develop your own brand, and empower yourself to succeed.

Conflict resolution

How to handle any conflict and forge a relationship with the other party that demonstrates your professionalism, and your interest in collaboration. Case studies will be analyzed.

Keynote: Networking for Nerds: How to Create Your Dream Career, with high tea (as a networking event) and book signing

Wanna land your dream job? Get ready to network! Most jobs and other game-changing career opportunities are not advertised, and even if they are, there is usually a short-list of candidates already in mind. So how do you find out about and access the 90% of jobs and other opportunities that are “hidden”? In this keynote, we will focus on proven networking strategies and tactics to identify new opportunities, locate decision-makers within organizations, solidify your reputation and brand in the minds of those who hire, and gain access to hidden jobs and game-changing opportunities. Discover how networking and self-promotion can enable you to land or even create your dream job from scratch!

The speaker will also share inputs on how to market yourself and “sell’ your ideas,  delve into the strategies for communicating your ideas and brand (your promise of value) in such a way that your constituents want to learn more and can visualize how your innovative attitude will benefit them. In marketing yourself appropriately you will be able to find and mine new and potentially hidden opportunities for career advancement.

The Speaker

Alaina G. Levine is an award-winning entrepreneur, science journalist, STEM careers consultant, professional speaker and corporate comedian. Her first book on networking strategies for scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, Networking for Nerds, was published by Wiley in July 2015. It debuted (and remained for some time) as the Number 1 New Release in Zoology on Amazon. Within a week or two it sold out and it is now in its third printing. Networking for Nerds was named one of the Top 5 Books of 2015 by Physics Today Magazine, beating Einstein for the honor (really!).

As President of Quantum Success Solutions, a career consulting enterprise with a focus on advancing the professional development expertise of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, she has been advising emerging and established scientists, mathematicians, and engineers about their careers for over 17 years, and has consulted with tens of thousands of early- and mid-career scientific, engineering, and technical professionals. She has given over 675 workshops and seminars for clients in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe, and is the author of over 300 articles pertaining to STEM, STEM careers, and business in such publications as Science, Nature, World Economic Forum, Smithsonian, Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, New Scientist, and COSMOS. As a science careers journalist, Levine constantly researches employment trends in STEM fields and delivers up-to-date vital information about STEM career issues from interviews with hiring managers, decision-makers and recruiters in myriad industries. Levine has also served as a Contributor to National Geographic and currently pens the career columns for Physics Today and the American Physical Society’s international publication, APS News. In 2016, she launched a new regular feature for, the careers arm of Science Magazine, featuring science-educated professionals in surprising and unusual careers.

Previously, Levine directed the Professional Science Master’s in applied science and mathematics and business programs, and spearheaded and taught a class on entrepreneurship to science, mathematics, and engineering graduate students at the University of Arizona (UA). For her contribution to entrepreneurship education, she was named an inaugural Eller Entrepreneurial Scholar.

Levine grew up in Princeton Junction, NJ, and holds degrees in mathematics and anthropology from the UA, studied abroad at the American University in Cairo as a US Department of Defense National Security Education Program/Boren Fellow, and pursued grant-funded research in cosmology and mathematics history. In 2012, she was honored with a travel fellowship to cover the 62nd Lindau (Physics) Nobel Laureates Meeting in Germany, during which she broke the Higgs news for NatGeo. She also has been honored as a Logan Science Journalism Fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory, a Robert Bosch Stiftung Science Journalism Fellow, and an Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources Fellow. In addition, Levine is an award-winning entrepreneur, and was named Tucson Leader of the Year, an honor previously bestowed upon former US Surgeon General Richard Carmona, and a Tucson 40 Under 40 Leader, an honor also bestowed upon former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords the same year. Read more about her work and media appearances  at


“Many thanks for your presentations at the [Materials Research Society] Meeting. On a personal note, your presentations were the highlight of the Meeting for me along with the talk given by Steven Chu, the Nobel prize winner. Your blending of personal stories, humor and really important suggestions were just fabulous.” –P.L.

“[At the American Institute for Chemical Engineers Spring Conference 2015], I heard your voice coming from this room. So I lingered in the hall a bit and listened to your talk for about 20 minutes that Monday afternoon, and I was immediately drawn to what you were saying. In fact, just sitting there for that short time was worth the price of my conference admission…This is email is partly a shout out to tell you that I can tell that you’re great at what you do, and you’ve already been helpful to me as I consider my next career options.” –A.M., Project Manager, Coastal Resiliency and Recovery Program Management Team for the State of Texas, HNTB Corporation

“I saw Alaina G. Levine give several career workshops at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2013. She was one of the best speakers I have heard at AGU or other scientific conferences. Her energy, style, and the applicability of her message was a great benefit to me and I am certain others will also benefit equally from her presentations.” –Chas Jones, PhD recipient, Hydrology, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks

“This was absolutely the best talk, presentation, or article on CVs and Resumes I have ever heard. The deep insights went so far beyond the simple formatting and content of a resume.” – B.B.

“I wanted to thank you for a wonderful conference experience. While many talks and conversations changed my thinking, yours was the only one to alter my attitude.” –A.M.