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Caleb McKinney

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They both use facts and logic. They both do tests and analysis. Both have clearly defined goals. 

And yet, in some fundamental ways, research scientists and marketers approach problems very differently—a fact that became clear to Caleb McKinney as he talked with Wendy Zajack, faculty director of Georgetown’s graduate program in Design Management & Communications, about the possibility of enrolling in the program.

McKinney, Ph.D., came from a research background, he worked for three years at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease after graduating from Cornell and the New York University School of Medicine. His job at Georgetown University Medical Center, where he is the Assistant Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Training and Development, requires a strong scientific background, but also something more: an ability to focus on the user experience to maximize outcomes of a diverse group of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are searching for guidance about where to take their careers.

The program, which he took online at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies, “was incredibly practical,” McKinney said. “It was rooted in a lot of good theoretical frameworks that I was immediately able to translate to practical outcomes.”

Last year, he was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to utilize a design-thinking framework to set up an online training program that teaches transferable project management skills.

After taking the Master’s in Design Management & Communications program, McKinney also received a promotion—and even more responsibility at the medical center.

“I have a pretty complex division now,” McKinney said. “I have career development, and I have proposal development—and now I have recruitment and marketing.”