Student Corner: Inaugural Team Launch

Two years ago, leadership, faculty, staff and trainees set out to create innovative, interdisciplinary learning opportunities that will prepare students for careers in team-based science and healthcare. The result was a new initiative called Team Launch.

Team Projects participants Alejandro Rafael, Amos Zhao, Sanjana Mahapatra and Wendy Zhu.

“We created a program to bring students, faculty and staff from all four schools together not only to learn teamwork skills but to solve real-world problems and help our students be better prepared for their future careers,” said Dr. Alicia Monroe, Baylor’s provost and senior vice president of academic and faculty affairs.

On June 28, many of the individuals who started this journey as well as others who joined along the way gathered for the Team Projects Capstone, which marked the conclusion of the first cycle of Team Launch.

Students presented the results of their successful work as a team to solve a real-life problem.  While on the surface their presentation was a pitch to investors for $3.4 million to bring a promising cancer therapy to market, in reality they were demonstrating the skills they had learned, practiced and honed throughout the three components of Team Launch.

Team Launch began with Launch Pad. In the first year, two groups comprising a total of 33 Ph.D., M.D. and allied health students met on Saturday mornings to work with faculty on problem-based, experiential learning to build teamwork knowledge, awareness and skills.

Throughout the year, students, faculty and staff participated in seminars as part of Team Discovery (previously referred to as Master Classes). These seminars focused on team- and career-oriented skills essential in almost any professional path, while reinforcing the importance of teamwork broadly across the College.

Four students went on to complete the Team Projects component. Applying the knowledge they gained in Launch pad, these students worked as part of an authentic team to tackle the real world challenge of bringing basic science discoveries into the marketplace for eventual application in clinical settings.

Toward the end of Team Projects these students reflected on their experience. Sanjana Mahapatra, a Ph.D. student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences discussed a particular area of growth for her. “Prior to Team Launch I considered myself a little weak in conflict resolution,” she said. “In Launch Pad we had a workshop on different approaches to conflict management. In Team Projects I got to put this information into practice.”

Wendy Zhu is in the final phase of earning her Ph.D. in the graduate school. “Team Launch had a huge impact on my career path,” she said. “I just received an offer from McKinsey & Company to work as a consultant. During my interview, I spoke about skills I learned in Team Launch, including leadership and the benefits of reflective thinking for enhancing interactions with others as well as my biomedical professional knowledge. It was the combination of the technical and soft skills that built a unique position for me and I believe this was why I stood out from the other candidates. Team Launch is a silver linking on my c.v.”

Now that the inaugural year of Team Launch has concluded, Dr. Nana Coleman, Team Launch education director, and the rest of the Team Launch leadership team are working with faculty and students to build on the program’s successes and identify opportunities for continued improvements. The Team Launch website has many videos through which you can learn more about the program directly from students and faculty. Interested in becoming involved with Team Launch? Sign up to receive notifications of upcoming opportunities for engagement.