Pivot 314 is a year-long program presented by The Graduate Center in the Office of the Provost and the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship for mid-career PhD students to explore possible career pathways outside and alongside of the academy, through engagement with the St. Louis entrepreneurial community. Pivot 314 provides PhD students curated programming focused on professional development, strengthening leadership and communications skills, and an internship. The program runs for one calendar year beginning in January and includes an experiential learning opportunity through a 10-week paid internship with an early-stage startup in St. Louis. The application opens up in fourth quarter each year for the following calendar year.

Our Mission

To provide exceptional resources and support to PhD students exploring career possibilities outside and/or alongside of the academy by exploring the St. Louis entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

2024 Program Information

Student Eligibility
  • Current WashU PhD students, regardless of discipline. Preference will be given to mid-career students who have completed at least two years of study towards a PhD and are currently in their third, fourth or fifth year (at the time the application is due).
  • Students must be enrolled full time during the entire calendar year of the Fellowship (January-December) and located in St. Louis. 
  • Students must be interested in exploring careers outside and/or alongside the academy and be interested in working with startups in the St. Louis community.
  • Students must remain in good academic standing according to their Program Handbook throughout the Program.
  • Students must have the approval of their PI/academic advisor.
  • If not a U.S. citizen, the student needs to be on a visa appropriate for a student for the duration of the Program.
Program Benefits
  • Professional development focused on leadership, communication, and entrepreneurship skills through workshops, field trips, and other engagement opportunities.
  • Hands-on experience working with an early-stage, St. Louis-based startup while gaining a deeper appreciation of the local entrepreneurial community.
  • Freedom to explore the myriad ways that a PhD can be used within and in conjunction with academia and beyond.
  • Networking with the St. Louis startup community.
  • Individual leadership coaching sessions.
  • $4,000 stipend for summer internship, supplemental to any existing funding (e.g., fellowship stipend, wages) a student may already be receiving.
Requirements for Accepted Fellows
  • Attend monthly professional development sessions held in person.
  • Attend 2-3 special events throughout the year (e.g., welcome reception).
  • Maintain satisfactory academic standing in respective academic program according to the Program Handbook.
  • Complete an in-person 10-week summer internship with a St. Louis start-up between May-August .
  • Submit all required deliverables via Canvas/LMS, including but not limited to: internship match details, milestone completion, and internship reflection.

Participants are encouraged to attend Skandalaris Center programming throughout the year, especially during the summer.

The Application

The 2024 application period is closed. The 2025 application will open in Fall 2024.

Applicants should confer with their Principal Investigator (PI) and/or academic advisor prior to submitting an application.

A complete application should include the following information submitted through the application form:

  1. Cover letter that addresses your interest in the Pivot 314 Program and the following prompt: Tell us about your academic and career trajectory and what is driving you to seek experiences in the St. Louis startup community. How do you anticipate those experiences and the leadership and communication skills developed through this Program will translate into your future career?
  2. Unofficial transcript
  3. One faculty letter of recommendation addressing how the opportunity will be valuable to the student. (Please have the recommender address the letter to Pivot 314 Program Committee and submit directly to pivot314fellowship@wustl.edu before the application deadline.)
  4. Confirmation of approval by your PI/advisor to participate in this program.
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What kind of programming does this program offer?

A: Programming is centered around leadership, communication and entrepreneurship. Highlights of 2023 programming include:

  • Introduction to the Startup Community in St. Louis
  • Tapping into Your Own Leadership Skills
  • Cortex Innovation District Tour  
  • Intimate events with university leaders
  • Time management workshop
  • Cherokee Street small business tour
  • Networking workshop

Q: What is the time commitment for the internship?

A: The summer internship is 20 hours per week for 10 weeks and occurs during the months of May – August based on an agreement between the startup and the participants. This is to protect students’ existing lab/research commitments.

Q: I am an international student, can I participate?

A: Yes, international students can participate. They must apply for and receive CPT for the summer internship. To ensure CPT approval, international students must select an internship that is aligned with their academic program/research.

Q: How does the internship stipend impact my other funding?

A: The internship stipend is meant to be supplementary to any other funding a participant may be receiving (e.g., stipend). Participants should talk with their PIs about summer lab time prior to submitting a Pivot 314 application.

Q: When is the internship stipend disbursed?

A: The stipend is distributed based on internship timing with funds distributed evenly over the duration of the internship (each month).

Q: Is the stipend taxable?

A: Taxes will be handled according to a participant’s citizenship or visa status. Please visit WashU’s Financial Services site (https://financialservices.wustl.edu/) for more information on the taxability of stipend payments. Participants should consult with a tax expert to understand all tax implications based on their situation.

Q: Will a participant receive course credit for the internship?

A: All participants are enrolled in a zero-credit course to document the internship. International students will note this class on their Curricular Practical Training Documentation (CPT).

Q: How does a participant secure an internship?

A:  The Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation & Entrepreneurship and The Graduate Center will assist with identifying relevant startups interested in hosting doctoral students. Participants, however, are ultimately responsible for searching, networking and securing their opportunity. 

Q: Can I intern with a startup my PI is involved with (founder/co-founder/stakeholder)?

A: Generally, working with a PI’s startup is to be avoided.

“The internship experience has been invaluable for learning about the biotechnology industry. I am certain this experience will be what I talk about most during future job interviews.”

Pivot 314 participant, 2021

Meet our Participants

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Maxwell Adolphson

Maxwell Adolphson

PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering | Entering Year: 2019 | Research interests: optical resonators, machine learning applied to data analysis and integrated photonics.

Winston Anthony

Winston Anthony

PhD in Molecular Cell Biology | Entering Year: 2016 | Research interests: computational and synthetic biology | Graduated: 2022.

Alec Beeve

Alec Beeve

PhD in Biomedical Engineering | Entering Year: 2018 | Research interests: bioelectronics for musculoskeletal therapeutics and neuroskeletal regulation of bone metabolism and repair | Graduated: 2023.

Ananya  Benegal

Ananya Benegal

PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering | Entering year: 2018 | Research interests: Characterizing antibody binding to influenza virus proteins.

Shambhavi Bhagwat

Shambhavi Bhagwat

PhD candidate in Molecular Cell Biology | Entering year: 2021 | Research interests: cancer metabolism, and specifically the role of extracellular lactate in the progression of Osteosarcoma,a primary malignant bone tumor.

Sara Brenes Ackerman

Sara Brenes Ackerman

AM in American Literature | Entering Year: 2016 | Research interests: early modern drama | Graduated: 2022.

Bryanna Brown

Bryanna Brown

MBA | Entering Year: 2020 | Graduated: 2022

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Kaitlyn Broz

PhD candidate in Materials Science and Engineering | Entering year: 2018 | Research interests: diabetic complications in the skeleton.

Harper Chen

Harper Chen

JSD in Law | Entering year: 2019 | Research interests: international arbitration, dispute resolution, constitutional law and theory, public policy and lawmaking | Graduated: 2023.

Amanda Cimino

Amanda Cimino

PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering | Entering year: 2020 | Research interests: synthetic biology and regenerative medicine, engineering cartilage therapeutics for rheumatoid arthritis.

Inquiries about compliance should be addressed to:
Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
Washington University in St. Louis
MSC 1190-853-03
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130

Specific information may be obtained from the departmental or administrative unit to which the student intends to apply.

Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission, financial aid, and mentorship. The University does not discriminate in access to, or treatment of mentees in, its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, veteran status, disability or genetic information.