Building your brand while in a career transition

Building your brand while in a career transition

This post originally appeared on the GCC Carpe Careers blog published on the Inside Higher Ed website on July 3, 2017. Re-posting with permission from Inside Higher Ed. This is a post by policy activist Adriana Bankston.   What do you want people to know you for? Surprisingly this is not an easy question to answer, depends on your personal goals and motivations, and may not be your actual job. And while I am not an expert in this topic, I would like to share my personal perspective and advice from my own experiences.   If you are an academic scientist in training and want to become a PI, your main goals are of course for people in your particular research field to know you for your scientific work, typically through publications and presentations at conferences. Therefore it makes sense that you would highlight these particular accomplishments as your brand.   On the other hand, if you are currently a graduate student or postdoc and want to pursue a non-academic career, you are likely to invest a great deal of time (after hours and on weekends) on building the skills and experiences you will need to transition out of academia. This may include volunteering with relevant organizations, writing blog posts or other statements about issues of importance to you, as well as giving talks or participating in workshops or panels in your field of interest.   Overtime, these experiences which you may only do “on the side” of your work initially may become the body of work that you can use to transition out of academia. Personally, I volunteered...
Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes: a Talk by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor

Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes: a Talk by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston, who moderated this plenary session at the 2017 NPA meeting.   Postdoctoral scholars make up a large segment of the biomedical workforce, and tracking their career trajectories is imperative for providing them with the most appropriate training. This information would also facilitate current postdocs to connect with former trainees who transitioned into various career paths, and thus develop a network of professionals to have as a resource throughout their careers.   Despite the importance of tracking postdoctoral career outcomes, data on this topic are difficult to obtain, and the best methods for data collection are still being debated in the scientific community. The speakers in one of the plenary sessions at the 2017 National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting entitled “Data driven approaches to tracking postdocs,” attempted to address some of these issues. One of the main speakers in this session was Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor, Managing Director at the Institute for Research on Innovation & Science (IRIS) at the University of Michigan.   What is the recent state of the biomedical research workforce? Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor’s talk entitled “Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes” began with the traditional definition of the postdoc experience as an apprenticeship for an independent academic research career. However, she pointed out that fewer academic research positions exist than the number of graduate students and postdocs, and trainees are now pursuing a variety of different career paths. Although a variety of approaches have been taken to their track career outcomes to date, there are still a lot of unknowns (shown...
The Most Important Experiment: Your Career – an Interview with Dr. Joerg Schlatterer

The Most Important Experiment: Your Career – an Interview with Dr. Joerg Schlatterer

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist Adriana Bankston. On February 14, 2017, Dr. Joerg Schlatterer gave a talk to the Career Research Advancement Focused Training (CRAFT) seminar series at the University of Louisville entitled “The Most Important Experiment: Your Career”. Following his talk, he graciously agreed to give an interview for the non-profit organization Future of Research, in which he expressed his views on graduate education and career development for trainees.     What is your name and current position? My name is Joerg Schlatterer. I am the manager of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholars Office in the Education Division of the American Chemical Society.   How has your research progressed overtime? My research focused on chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics of nucleic acids. As a chemistry student in Berlin/Germany, I synthesized initiator nucleotides for in vitro selection of RNA enzymes (ribozymes). As a Ph.D. student in Heidelberg, I generated artificial Diels-Alderase ribozymes, which supported the RNA World hypothesis. As a postdoc at the National High Magnetic Field laboratory in Florida, I learned how to solve RNA structures using solution NMR techniques. I added a third element to my research skill portfolio when I joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Einstein)/New York, first as a postdoc and then as an instructor. I learned how to determine folding pathways of large RNAs using time-resolved hydroxyl radical footprinting approaches. I achieved my research goal of mastering all three pillars of RNA research:  generation of artificial ribozymes, examination of RNA structure, and determination of RNA folding pathways.   Tell us about the career development part of your...
Navigating the Shifting Academic Research Landscape: Advice for the Junior Scientist

Navigating the Shifting Academic Research Landscape: Advice for the Junior Scientist

This is a guest post from Samantha Jones, a PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of California San Diego. Procuring a tenure-track faculty position in academic scientific research is becoming an elusive dream for an ever-increasing number of junior candidates.  With the current percentage of successful faculty applicants hovering just above 15%, the majority of those with a Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences are considering alternative career paths, regardless of their training. A new generation of scientists is questioning the usefulness of traditional, often referred to as “fossilized,” training approaches, which do little to prepare those hoping to pursue a career outside of academia.  Some mentors are attempting to facilitate the cultivation of both hard skills (rational drug design, informatics) and soft skills (networking, team management, marketing) that are valuable to the private sector, a place where most young scientists often lack the confidence to maneuver. In the case of students and postdoctoral researchers who choose to maintain an academic research career trajectory, this style of interdisciplinary training can prove equally beneficial by establishing bridges to biotech industry-mediated collaborations and funding opportunities. UCSD professor Dr. Gene Yeo employs a highly adaptive mentoring strategy, combining training in computational biology, stem cell technology, neuroscience and bioengineering to forge collaborations with clinics, drug developers and software engineers.  Yeo’s trainees are as likely to start careers in biotechnology or data science as they are to obtain academic professorships.  This mentoring style stems from Yeo’s own very interdisciplinary training, which has made him among the most successful young scientists in the RNA field.   Yeo has a considerably “bilingual” background among...
Tips for transitioning into a non-research career

Tips for transitioning into a non-research career

This article was originally published on the Careers blog and is shared here with the permission from the American Society for Microbiology. The link to the original article is found here. This article was written by policy activist Adriana Bankston. Many trainees are transitioning into non-research careers. Navigating this transition can be tricky, as the available resources are still scarce and fairly inconsistent in universities across the U.S. Various companies are offering uniform career advice to their clients in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). One of these very well respected companies, STEM Career Services, is a full service career counseling and job placement company. Their general mission is to help trainees start and sustain a career outside of academia. Dr. Josh Henkin, founder of STEM Career Services, has given numerous career workshops at national meetings. At the 2017 AAAS meeting in Boston, MA, Dr. Henkin held a workshop entitled “Transitioning into a Non-Academic Career,” which was very well attended and successful. The goal of the workshop was to explore the skills and best practices for trainees to transition out of academia. Below we summarize and highlight the main points from this session. Develop a strategic approach: What is the best approach to job searching? In the “traditional” approach, trainees typically start looking for jobs towards the end of their training (which is too late), and are oftentimes not aware of what they are passionate about, or how their skills match desired positions. Alternatively, the “strategic” approach is focused on accumulating relevant experiences (internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work, committee participation) early on. This is critical in learning what you...
What Career Awareness and Development Resources Are There for Junior Scientists? A Workshop at the 2016 ASCB meeting

What Career Awareness and Development Resources Are There for Junior Scientists? A Workshop at the 2016 ASCB meeting

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston.   Introduction Career development for junior scientists remains one of the most important issues in the biomedical research enterprise. Since the perceived notion is that the role of junior scientists is to drive science forward by working at the bench, training them for career success may not be a top priority. However, recent statistics state that only 10% of trainees go on to have a faculty position (Table 3–18 in (National Science Foundation, 2014)). Therefore, training graduate students and postdocs for success in non-research careers beyond the bench must be a major focus of the enterprise. While many U.S. institutions have developed very useful career development programming in this regard, the career training landscape for junior scientists is still inconsistent across the country and may also be lacking important components to help academics transition into non-research careers.   Improving career training for junior scientists can only be achieved if we know what they need from the system. Traditionally, although this is beginning to change, junior scientists haven’t had a strong voice in the matter. At Future of Research, we want to help junior scientists transition into their desired career paths, while giving them a voice in the process. In our workshops, we asked trainees about which career resources they are currently using/finding useful, and what resources they would like to have for career success. We plan to use this information to create a resource on our website, which we hope will be useful towards improving career training for junior scientists.      Previous career workshops In...