PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Lulu Chu

“If you think it is something that you wanted to do, get into the industry for three months and see whether that’s something you really want to do.”

School of Medicine

Biomedical Engineering, PhD 2016

Associate Director, Cell Therapy Clinical Pharmacology, Modeling & Bioinformatics at Takeda

Lulu‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss how Lulu leveraged her internship experience while pursuing her PhD in Biomedical Engineering to land her first post-graduate job, her advice for using internships to build skills and to help ease the transition from academia to industry, and the ways mentorship and identity-based networks have supported her professional development.

Learn More About Lulu‘s Story

I believe most people who went through their PhD studies experienced some obstacles at different levels due to the nature of independent thesis work. Overcoming them made you confident and feel like you can conquer anything. I was trying to do some experiment to provide data for my own computational work in a collaborative lab. However, due to the complexity of the experiment and lack of support, I felt like I hit my rock bottom in my PhD and was not sure whether I would see the light at the end of the tunnel at that point. Talking with my own advisor was absolutely crucial but in addition to that, by being part of the Hopkins Dance family and helping organize club classes/events, I got to know friends from across the school from all different departments and gained more support/confidence in my PhD work as well in this process. Everyone shared about their own experience/obstacles and supported each other through dancing.

Life is not linear, especially after school. The picture reflected a critical realization I had in my career/life. Starting in a new organization, group and working with a new boss after my first job brought new obstacles I’ve never experienced before. It was the first time I felt that my hard work didn’t get me what I expected in reward and started questioning my personal values/capabilities. I’ve always enjoyed being in nature, so I decided to go on a solo trip in Zion. One of the most interesting trails was the Narrows and I hiked for 8 hours alone in the river… paths emerged out of nowhere when you thought there was no path forward… sometimes through the creek, sometimes through slits under a huge rock. It made me think about external validation, which usually is sought by women and the nonlinearity of life more clearly than ever. We need to focus on what we can control instead, balance internal vs. external validation and make our own paths moving forward.