Sunday, April 7, 2013

Science Businesses Create Career Options Beyond Technical Roles

When considering career options, many scientists look at a wide variety of technical companies... and the ones that don’t, should! But above and beyond the pure science roles, these companies and many related industries offer a variety of potential jobs to people with basic science training all the way to deep research experience.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What's next? Should you consider a postdoc?

What does a PhD get you in industry?  It depends.  Obviously, your qualification is no better than a BS chemist if your PhD is in the areas not applicable to the company.  Sad, right?  For example, I have a PhD in Analytical Chemistry focused on surface science using primarily spectroscopy tools.  I only qualify well for spectroscopy focused R&D positions (option 1) and not qualify for those chromatography-mass spectrometry focused job posting in a R&D.  Luckily, analytical chemistry is a relatively applied science (relatively speaking), so all PhD and MS Analytical Chemist would qualify for those analytical chemist positions in QA/QC labs (option 2).  We could also consider smaller company's analytical service combination lab positions (option 3). 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Thoughts on the Global PhD Glut: Incentives

Yet again emphasizing that the PhD glut is a global phenomenon, there is a recent report out of Australia looking at this problem. Links, a summary, and some additional thoughts available here: A Global Glut?

The article makes some good points on how a central issue for grad students is a lack of information on career outcomes; or more pointedly real data on job prospects upon graduation and information on the full breadth of career options including industry and even non directly research jobs. Otherwise, however, it again recaps a very familiar story: universities have strong incentives to bring in more grad students and postdocs that have nothing to do with actual demand and job prospects creating significant career challenges for scientists.

There are a couple obvious things that are sometimes mentioned but seldom emphasized in these reports. The first is what is driving these non-market incentives and the second is why there is so little knowledge on career alternatives; something we’ll take up in another article. Starting with the incentives, the first level cause is obvious and usually understood.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Personal Perspective: Science Skills Outside the Lab

Of the bench to business writers and editors, I am probably the one that has moved furthest away from traditional lab work in my career. As a lab rat that went not only to industry but to the business side of the house (the dark side of the dark side?), I often get asked how I have used my science skills in my new career. The truth is, quite a lot but possibly not where many scientists would expect.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

LinkedIn Critical for Scientists and other Technology Professionals

Although critical for the technical professions, this article actually pertains to a wide variety of highly specialized careers. For nearly all scientists, many engineers, and even business professionals focused in high technology industries; LinkedIn is an incredibly important tool in that it conveniently provides networking and visibility that many other professions take for granted but which can be difficult to achieve in more specialized areas. For example, there are a plethora of real estate support networks, automotive forums, and general business training and networking resources. Although many professional groups and conference organizers do the best they can, a similar scale of resources is just not available or generally feasible for highly specialized industries, including most areas of science and technology. Effective use of LinkedIn can help fill in much of this gap.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Job Profile: Analytical Chemist

Analytical Chemist (or just chemist on many of the job posting) may have different responsibilities depending on the size of organization and organizational structure of the company.  

In larger organizations, analytical chemists support other groups’ analytical needs.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When the Question Comes Up: What Makes a Scientist?

The question of what makes a scientist could be a deeply philosophical debate touching on the history and current state of modern research. We'll leave that aside. Who is and is not a scientist is also a much more common and practical question of deep concern to the current R&D workforce that is worth considering. And this article can't hope to answer even this simpler one. But it is incredibly important to understand the question because, more often than many people recognize, it comes up and can have a deep impact on personal relationships, how people work, and how colleagues interact.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Interview tips-remember to interview the employer

The job market is tough right now. I remember looking for a job (at that time just a job for money and not career so much) in 2005-2006. Even at that time, it was not easy to get an interview as a chemistry graduate student with no industry experience. Now I can understand employers' need to look for someone with experience. After all, companies are trying to fill those specific holes that someone else left.  Right now, there are so many of those highly experienced talented scientists out of jobs.

If you are getting interviews, congratulations, you must have a good resume.  If you're being invited to interview in person, you must have passed all the screening phone interviews and deemed safe.  Now, it's time to let your personality shine and show off you're so much better than your already excellent resume!  Well.....unfortunately, most of us do not learn those critical selling skills/soft skills in graduate school either!  I mean, if we are Mr. or Ms. personality, would we really be in sciences? Even if you have the personality to mingle and party, we don't learn mannerism appropriate for business.  We all learn to evaluate data fairly and present them as such.  We're more likely to tell the employer "I am an expert in x, y, and z, but have no clue about business."  Honesty is a virtue, but let's not do that!  At minimum, make sure to evaluate employers while you're talking with them. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Resumes First Step

Generally speaking, resumes are used for positions outside of academia, a short summary sales pitch for yourself targeted for the position you're applying.  CVs are used for typically academic positions although select R&D positions would require you to prepare both (one to be screened by the recruiter, the other for decision makers).  

The hardest part of preparing first resume after years of schooling is letting go of the precious lists of publication and conference presentation.  For years, we have learned that number of publication equates to your worth.  This may be true in academia, but if you want to put a foot into industry, you may consider placing less emphasis on those lists.  If the job positing does not specifically mention expectations of publication record, you may opt to place a summary statement and not full list (that is if your resume is getting to be much longer than 2 pages).

Start by following general guidelines you followed years ago when you were graduating from undergraduate institution.   For example, Purdue Online Writing Labs give you a very good starting point. If you are having a hard time letting the list go, try taking the job positing to career center and ask them what they think are the most important qualities that hiring manager is looking for.  In person, tell them why you think you're the perfect fit.  After that conversation look at your resume one more time and see if this list of publication would add value other than it fills white space or second page on your resume.

This is the first step.  Later we will move to the next steps, polishing your resume.   

Of course, if you have the money and want an easy way out, you could certainly hire a professional resume writer.  But we hope this is unnecessary after reading steps we provide you here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blurb: New Resource Available from Science, myIDP

Development plans, personal development, goal setting, all these things are common types of career resources and the focus of many of our articles. As we often emphasize here, however, effective use of these concepts is seldom taught as part of science training and career development. Now there is one more resource available. We'll be listening for feedback and looking to see how it develops, but for now we wanted to share with our readers a new "individual development plan" tool available from sciencemag. Check it out here and see what you think:
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