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Scholarly Knowledge, Innovation, and Leadership Development SKILD at WSU

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SKILD at WSU

Thank you for your interest!

WSU seniors, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers from all disciplines are invited to get SKILD and bring your knowledge, innovation, and leadership to life in the public sphere.

The SKILD internship is a paid, part-time position lasting 4 months at roughly 10 hours/week. We are accepting applications through February 6 for internships that will start in late February.

To apply today please send an email with “SKILD application” in the subject line; include your résumé or CV and a brief cover letter describing your interest in the program. Send to: Brian Kraft, Director for Business Development, College of Arts and Sciences, at bkraft.wsu.edu.

Director’s Message

SKILD at WSU

My Story

Brian Kraftby SKILD Director Brian Kraft

Eleven years ago, I was nearing the end of my doctoral program and actively trying to find the right career path. By all measures my graduate studies were successful; good publication record, awards, and an imminent degree from a top-20 department. With interest and motivation I would have been well primed for a successful career in academia. However, as the seminal graduate student from a newly tenured professor, I had seen firsthand the stress and uncertainties of the funding and tenure processes. Compounding this perception was the fact that I was losing interest in my research—the problems that once seemed grand and far-reaching suddenly seemed small and too narrowly focused to sustain my interest. It ultimately became clear to me that I did not have the passion to be successful in the traditional academic route.

This set me on a path of exploration leading to development of the SKILD program.

I recall clearly the face of the pharmaceutical company interviewer when I asked if the entry-level research scientist position offered a “career track for researchers to develop into a business role.” The interviewer was my main champion at the company; he had visited me on campus, arranged my seminar, set the visit schedule, and was caught completely off-guard by my question. Since it was early in the day, I tested the waters with a few other people, who were similarly surprised. Ultimately I did not get the job, but a valuable lesson was learned.

After my thesis defense was completed, I felt less pleased than depressed. Things had gone well and I was on my way to a post-doctoral position at a national laboratory. It seemed a viable third option at the time, but I could not shake the feeling that I was on the wrong track. By this time I had concluded that I wanted to develop a career track that led to management, business, or entrepreneurship. Recognizing that I had no experience or formal training in business, I began to look for options.

In short, they were limited. After completing the 20th grade I didn’t want to spend two more years in school and $30K-$50K to obtain a MBA. Moreover, with student loan payments looming, I was not in a position to “work for free” as an intern. Eventually, I was fortunate to land in a “technology transfer office” at Washington State University. Here, I was able to both leverage my research skills and develop expertise in business.

Now having been in this role for nine years, I have come to realize that I am not alone. The business world is filled with scientists, engineers, historians, artists, and mathematicians. Each has his or her own unique story of how they landed that first job without the demonstrated skills needed in the business world. While many argue that a degree in the arts or sciences impart the  critical thinking, research, and problem-solving skills necessary for success in the business world, the resume still needs demonstrated proof. There is a dearth of programs that serve to provide advanced technical and non-business students with such tangible, resume building experiences.

The Scholarly Knowledge, Innovation and Leader Development program at WSU (SKILD at WSU) fills this niche. The program does not serve to supplant formal curricular training in business nor does it aim to train students in the nuances of managerial theory. Participants will emerge with basic knowledge and baseline experience in the evaluation of a technical opportunity from a business perspective. The program is focused on identification and advancement of research at WSU. It pairs the innovation at the school with the translational thinking and development efforts needed to realize the value embedded in the innovation. It offers a route for students to apply their disciplinary skills within a business setting and provides real-world experience in the application of innovation.

I look forward to working with WSU faculty and students University-wide to advance research, knowledge, skills, and innovation to improve the world.

Brian Kraft
Director, SKILD at WSU

About

SKILD at WSU

SKILD at WSU is a paid, part-time internship program for WSU seniors, graduate students, and post-doctoral scholars in any discipline. Participants will emerge with basic knowledge and baseline experience in the evaluation of a technical opportunity from a business perspective.

The program is focused on identification and development of research at WSU to build connectivity to real-world market applications. It pairs the innovation with the translational thinking and advancement efforts needed to realize the value embedded in the innovation. It offers a route for non-business students to apply their disciplinary skills within a business setting and provides real-world experience in new business development.

SKILD serves students by providing concrete, résumé-building illustrations of their cross-disciplinary skills while illustrating the societal potential embedded within scholarly activities at WSU. The program also serves faculty by providing resources to explore the potential for external applications of their research. The program does not serve to supplant formal curricular training in business and does not aim to train students in the formalisms of building a business plan: It’s specifically tailored to provide a conduit for advanced disciplinary experts to build the core business competencies needed in today’s job market.

SKILD at WSU empowers the next generation of local and global leaders
to develop the critical skills necessary to integrate innovation and application.

Starting with WSU research products, SKILD interns work in teams to review research activities at the school and define targets for development. Once defined, the teams will design strategies to translate WSU research into products and services to positively impact our state, nation, and world. SKILD seeks to minimize investment of faculty time and maximize the return on the public’s investment. Students will need the expressed support of a faculty advisor to participate, and their pay can be used to either augment or offset the student/post-doc’s teaching or research appointment.

Learn more by exploring this website and/or by contacting Brian Kraft, director, at skild@wsu.edu or 509-335-3959.

Home

SKILD at WSU

SKILD at WSU integrates interdisciplinary excellence with business know-how. Open to seniors, graduate, and post-doctoral students across the University, the program provides students with opportunities to develop their leadership skills through entrepreneurial thinking and project planning. SKILD at WSU provides a platform for preparing the next generation of local and global leaders.

SKILD at WSU

SKILD at WSU empowers the next generation of local and global leaders 
to develop the critical skills necessary to integrate innovation and application.

SKILD (Scholarly Knowledge, Innovation, and Leadership Development) fellows and interns work with WSU faculty to develop and apply their scholarly knowledge to provide innovative products and/or services that manifest the impact embedded in their research. Students gain real-world experience working within an interdisciplinary setting and in the protocols and practices of technology-focused business. Participants are provided the freedom to develop and demonstrate their disciplinary critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills within a business setting.

Limitations of Current Educational Structures

Leadership requires more than the simple prescription of known solutions to defined problems, it requires the ability to understand the landscape surrounding a problem then collaborate effectively to define and adapt a solution. While the application of these skills is commonplace within the academic environment, their use is often limited to a contextual prescription within a given technical or academic discipline. This systemically constrains the ability to train leaders that have the skills necessary to compete within an increasingly interdisciplinary world.

Bridging the Gaps

In pursuit of scholarly understanding, scientists and engineers embrace the tangible while humanists and artists embrace the intangible. Businesspeople, in turn, leverage both the tangible and intangible to translate and propagate knowledge into products and services that apply these scholarly innovations to our world. Thus, there is a symbiotic value to structures that integrate innovation and application. Business focuses on application and, like any other academic discipline, contains specializations, common protocols and practices that require training. In many respects business is highly interdisciplinary, a fact that is reflected in the broad range of artistic and technical graduates that ultimately find employment within a business setting. Despite this reality, there are few opportunities for students who have significantly advanced within their discipline to receive training in “business basics.”

Get SKILD!

SKILD at WSU offers a solution to the systemic constraints of the traditional academic model by introducing a route for broad cross-disciplinary collaboration focused on the application of academic innovation.