Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?

Bhavna Dixit graduated from Amity Institute of Biotechnology (Amity University,Uttar Pradesh) with a Masters degree in Biotechnology and worked as a biotechnology research scholar in India before moving to California in 2015. Armed with a master’s degree in biotechnology and work experience abroad, she started researching programs that could prepare her to work in the Bay Area. She enrolled in UCSC Extension’s Biotechnology certificate program and within nine months had completed her course work and an internship, and had been hired as a research technician in Silicon Valley.

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What made UCSC Extension’s program stand out?

Biotechnology Certificate provides a solid understanding of scientific disciplines that underlie the industry’s activities, a foundation in the principles that guide drug discovery and development, an appreciation of cutting-edge bioscience research and technology, and a broader awareness of today’s bio pharmaceutical industry.

Every course was so different, so it was hard to make choices on what to take, because I didn’t want to miss out on any of them. I was excited to see that UCSC Extension offers “Next Generation DNA Sequencing: Methods and Applications,” because there aren’t many programs in the Bay Area that cover that topic. Later, when I was interviewing for jobs, I discovered that many recruiters seek candidates who are familiar with NGS. I also liked the “Molecular Diagnostics” course, because I had no experience in that area, and was eager to learn new skills.

What did you enjoy about the program?

I appreciated the fact that our assignments were more application-based. In our diagnostics course, we had to design a practical experiment for a fictional company—we even had to design a kit for a particular diagnostic. This helped me understand the tactical challenges that companies face, and it was really helpful. In the “Drug Development” course, our instructor taught us about the various challenges scientists have when bringing a drug to market and shared his real-life experiences in industry. No book can teach you that. The program covered everything.

What was your experience like as an international student?

It was very easy. The International Student Advisor and Internship Advisor helped me a lot; all of my applications were completed on time.

What did you accomplish in your internship?

I did molecular research. After interning for six months, the company offered me a job as a research technician. We are working to find a gene therapy to help cure age-related diseases. In India I worked in plant biology; now I work in human and animal research.