Outstanding Consultant (Spring 2019)

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We are extremely excited to recognize Chen Dong as our outstanding consultant of this quarter! Chen grew up in China, and received a B.S. in biology from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He is currently a first year graduate student in the Developmental, Regenerative, and Stem Cell Biology program at WashU. His research looks at the mechanisms and applications of naive pluripotency in humans.


In his own words:
What motivated you to join BALSA? 
Before I came to graduate school, I didn't have much exposure to career opportunities outside of academia. When I heard of BALSA at the beginning of the year, I though it would be a perfect opportunity for me to explore such options. In addition, I figured it would be a nice balance to school and lab.

What have you learned so far by working on BALSA projects? 
First of all, I think through BALSA projects, I was able to practice and improve my presentation, writing, and analysis skills. I found that the ability to talk without too much preparation was very important, and the weekly presentations and client meetings ensured that I got plenty of practice. Another aspect I got to improve was the ability to evaluate a large amount of information, and identify the most critical points. Additionally, working as a team  and relying on other team members is also something very important that I learned.

What did you hope to accomplish by working with BALSA? Were these goals fulfilled? 
I joined BALSA partly because I wasn't sure what my post-PhD career would be. I wanted to learn what a career in consulting (or outside academia in general) is like. Additionally, I wanted to improve my communication skills. So far I'm still undecided about my future career plan, but I've definitely learned and improved a lot in terms of the skills I set out to learn.

What do you envision your career to be in 3-5 years and how do you think your BALSA experience will help you with your goal?
By then, I envision that I've graduated or are on track to graduate from WashU. I'm not yet sure what I want to do after that, but I hope by then I would've not only found a career path but also been well prepared for the challenges post graduation. I think whatever my choice will be, the skills I learned in BALSA will be broadly applicable to that endeavor.