Frequently Asked Question

Who can join BALSA?

We welcome participation by all postdoctoral fellows, Ph.D. students, law students, MBA students, pharmacy students, and MD students in the St. Louis region. We also work with members of the community who would like to apply their biomedical, business, and law training in new ways.

Do BALSA consultants get paid for their work?

No, BALSA members do not get paid for the work they complete. We are a student-led, non-profit organization. Consultants, however, gain hands-on training and mentorship, experience real-world projects, and are exposed to professional development opportunities.

Do I need prior consulting experience?

No prior consulting experience is required. If your application is successful, BALSA provides training as part of onboarding process. As new members progress through projects, experienced members such as project managers and advisors will provide guidance and mentorship. Occasionally, BALSA, independently or through collaboration with outside organization, provides professional development workshops.

What should I expect from BALSA?

The BALSA Group aims to provide its members with real-world opportunities to experience the business of science. Projects are intended to help members develop transferable skills applicable to academic and non-academic career trajectory, including but not limited to, management and technology consulting, intellectual property, sales and marketing, research and development, and technology transfer. Through BALSA, members will have the chance to meet, work with, and learn from other BALSA consultants and leaders of the St Louis business community.

What is a BALSA project?

BALSA projects typically last 6-7 weeks and are focused on answering questions and solving problems for our clients. A top priority in The BALSA Group is to train, educate, and expose members to a wide array of opportunities in which they can apply their knowledge and skills beyond academia. To do this, we rely on an experiential learning approach based around teams containing members of varying levels of training. Each project contains a project advisor, a project manager, and 2-4 consultants.

Projects with the Office of Technology Management (OTM) are unique BALSA projects that are great training opportunities for our consultants. The primary objective of the Tech Transfer Training Program is to expose participants to the earliest stages of technology transfer. The program is designed to train participants in reviewing and analyzing emerging academic technologies through a collaborative environment that also provides an understanding of commercialization principles and challenges associated with academic discoveries.

What is the time commitment for a BALSA project?

It is expected that a consultant who is staffed on a project dedicate at least 10 hours a week to the preparation of weekly deliverables. The weekly deliverables consist of a written report and weekly presentation that mirror the information presented in the report.

How do I join a BALSA Project?

Every 2 months, the Director of Human Resources sends out an email that contains brief project descriptions. Consultants respond to the emails to indicate their interest and availability and are placed on projects based on clients’ needs and consultants’ goals. There is no minimum number of projects that a BALSA consultant must complete to maintain status as an active member.

How frequently will I be staffed on a project?

Participating in BALSA allows for flexibility and control in completing projects. Some consultants will participate in back-to-back projects whereas other consultants may choose to space projects more leisurely at their discretion.

What is my commitment after I join BALSA?

New consultants are expected to complete a project within twelve months of completing the New Consultant Training. To maintain active member status, consultants are expected to complete at least one project a year. If you lose active membership stauts, you are welcome to re-attend the New Consultant Training to be eligible to be staffed on projects again.

Will joining BALSA affect my doctoral/post-doctoral works?

While you are expected to commit 10-15 hours a week during an active project, we did not see any significant difference in time to graduation or number of publications during graduate tenure among BALSA members, BALSA board of directors, and DBBS (Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences) alumni. You also have the option to not participate in project if you forsee a busy period in your primary career.

Should I join BALSA only if I am interested in a consulting career?

The mission of BALSA is to supplement academic training by providing real-world experience in the science of business and development of transferable professional skills to better prepare members for both academic and non-academic career paths. In fact, our alumni transition into various career paths including consulting, academia, industry, government, and law.

When do BALSA meetings typically occur?

When participating in a BALSA project there is a mandatory weekly team meeting that will be agreed upon by the group members. These meetings typically last one hour and are held in the evenings. Additional meetings may be required for the final presentation and any client meetings.

If I am located outside of Saint Louis can I still participate as a consultant for BALSA?

A BALSA consultant must be present at each weekly team meeting. We do not allow for participation in weekly meetings exclusively through conference call or video chat.

What if I have more question?

We are happy to answer any questions that you might have about BALSA. Please contact the Director of Human Resources at hr@balsa.org or use the form below — we will be in touch as soon as possible.


If you have more questions, use the form below to contact the Director of Human Resources. 

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