Alison Billroth-MacLurg, a six-year Ph.D. candidate in Deborah Fowell’s lab, is in the thick of planning her career and recently attended a one-day mini course to help basic scientists become more competitive in the job market.
She shared what she learned with a group of URMC grad students and post-docs. Billroth-MacLurg’s entire presentation will be posted on the Center for Professional Development (CPD) website, which is chock full of additional information on career planning. Here are a few tips from the workshop:
- Start thinking early about possible careers outside of academia. Dig deep. Within each industry (venture capitalism, patent/legal, consulting/industry) are several types of companies (from big pharmaceuticals to small biotechnology firms) and many different jobs within those companies, from research and development to communications, operations, and business enterprise.
- Research the skills that are required before jumping in. Read job ads. Talk to people. Think about reframing and emphasizing what you do well, such as collaborating.
- Build a targeted resume. Use key buzz words to describe your scientific identify (papers published, lab skills), your business identity (strategic thinker, highly motivated, able to manage multiple projects), and social identify (leadership).
- Network. Establish a professional page on Linked In.
- When an interview comes, prepare for days, not hours. Research the prospective employer. Express your skills in terms of their needs. Be able to answer the question, “Why should we hire you?” Be your best professional self.
The CPD website launched in October 2014 and has been rolling out a host of services since then, including the hiring of a life-sciences writing specialist who will train students in dissertation/manuscript preparation and writing CVs and cover letters.