Career Planning

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 13:53

Your Common Career Questions Answered

Written by

Questions LPWith the new year around the corner, it’s never too late to think about the next steps in your career and set some resolutions. To help you get started, we highlight the top 5 career questions that ASM receives from students and postdocs and provide short answers.

Bad Faces to A Person LPHave you ever been on a date where the person was dressed sloppy, or avoided answering the question, or better yet, over inflated their answers. Applying and interviewing for jobs is a bit like dating. And just like dating, it’s important to avoid behaviors and mistakes that are going to leave a bad impression—these “tells” are discussed in the article.

Wednesday, 04 October 2017 16:40

Four Lab Skills that You Can Use Outside of the Lab

Written by

Billiards Career LPYou just don’t learn technical skills doing research in a lab, you develop and demonstrate skills that you can transfer to a variety of professional contexts. These skills are called transferable skills. Explore four transferable skills that you gain while doing research.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 15:50

An Insider’s Guide to Science Outreach Activities

Written by

BMAA STEM Day 2016 Career LPHow do you exactly incorporate science outreach activities in your already hectic lab schedule? Dr, Donna Johnson, an avid science outreacher, summarizes programs that have varying levels of commitment and modes of involvement with insights on what she thought of each.

old letters CPIn celebration of National Postdoc Appreciation Week, we are giving back to our wonderful postdocs by providing tips for writing a cover letter for faculty applications. Although, there are many factors to consider in your application like a CV and teaching philosophy, a successful cover letter can distinguish you from an endless sea of competitive applicants. We discuss how to present yourself as an invaluable colleague and what to emphasize.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 14:37

Increase Your Science Literacy with 5 Online Tools

Written by

computer surfing CPModern technology and social media are not only there to tell you what your cousin had for lunch; they can increase your scientific knowledge. Here are 5 online tools that can help you stay up-to date and broaden/deepen your scientific background.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017 10:16

Acing the Graduate School Interview

Written by

Acing the Graduate School Interview CLPWhen graduate programs invite you to campus for an interview, they are testing their hypothesis that you are a stellar candidate based on a positive review of your application.You will meet with faculty to discuss your scientific aptitude. Preparing for these meetings include developing an elevator pitch and discussing other people’s research. Check out the blog to learn how to do prepare for graduate school interviews.    

Microscope 1 LPBench-level clinical microbiologists serve an important role in a clinical microbiology lab. They are often the first people to identify disease-causing pathogens, which helps medical staff with the treatment of patients. In a clinical microbiology lab, personnel management and technical management are typically the next steps to advance in your career.

In the lab 1 Career LPThe success of an academic researcher and career progression depends on quantifiable metrics like the number of grants, publications, presentations, posters, etc. However, researchers also engage in many other, less tangible activities that are critical to academic success, such as mentoring people, reviewing papers and grants, serving on committees, etc. However, these activities constitute only a small part of a researcher’s application for career advancement. As a consequence, participating in these activities is not rewarded properly in academia. What general solutions might exist to better value and reward these activities in academia? Read our blog for suggestions.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:42

The Art of Acing the Qualifying Exam

Written by

exam with attribution PlanningMost graduate programs have some form of a qualifying exam (QE) or preliminary exam. Generally it consists of writing a proposal and defending it in front of a committee of faculty members. Many students dread it for months, but it’s an opportunity to learn through reading literature and asking for feedback from your peers. Learn how to pass the exam and fully enjoy the experience.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017 11:40

Storytelling Your Science in Manuscripts

Written by

coffee tablet headphones work CLPFor beginning research scientists, honing your writing skills is essential. Randy Olson’s book, Houston, We Have a Narrative discusses a way of storytelling called “and, but, therefore” (ABT) for writing scientific papers. ABT storytelling in writing follows this format - “Such topic exists AND we know this, BUT we don’t know this other thing, THEREFORE we did these experiments.”

Poster 1 CLPYou most likely receive formal training for communicating your research to other scientists, which is thoroughly practiced at meetings and seminars, but what about to non-scientists? ASM is providing multiple sessions at Microbe 2017 to teach you how to share your science in the forms of blogs, social media, and videography.

 

HandshakeModern science is built on collaborations and it is no doubt that successful collaborations enrich the scientific process. If you look at recent scientific breakthroughs, such as the creation of the HPV vaccine, identification of the virus causing SARS, or detection of gravitational waves, almost all of them are the results of international collaborations. We discuss how to set up successful scientific collaborations, which includes assessing collaborator’s personality style and setting up ground rules of the collaboration. Finally, we discuss the two most important factors of collaboration – communication and trust.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017 14:40

Key Tips to Overcoming Experimental Hurdles

Written by

PCR Career LPAnyone can encounter roadblocks with their experiments. What do you do next? We asked two trainees, Dr. Alan Goggins, a postdoctoral fellow, and Floricel Gonzalez, a Ph.D. student what they do. They check all their reagents, go to colleagues for help, and revisit the big picture of their projects.

Lab Professionals Career LP2In celebration of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, Dr. Robin Patel, Chair of the Division of Clinical Microbiology at the Mayo Clinic, shares her insights on how to become a laboratory technologist and a story of how one observant laboratory technologist led to a new standard of care for lung transplants on This Week in Microbiology (TWIM) #150.  

Wednesday, 19 April 2017 12:27

Tips for Transitioning into a Non-Research Career

Written by

Henkin CLPMany trainees are transitioning into non-research careers. Navigating this transition can be tricky, as the available resources are still scarce and fairly inconsistent. Dr. Josh Henkin, founder of STEM Career Services, gave a workshop at the 2017 AAAS meeting titled “Transitioning into a Non-Academic Career.” The workshop explored the skills and best practices for trainees to transition out of academia. We highlight the main points from the session.

Wednesday, 05 April 2017 10:27

The Talk: A Career Discussion with Your Mentor

Written by

Two people Discussion Career SiteYou are 1-2 years away from graduation and want to switch into a different sector or move away from research altogether. Or you are a postdoc who is actively applying for jobs outside of academia. How do you tell your dissertation/postdoc mentor that you are considering a career different from an academic research position? We discuss hurdles that trainees encounter and provide tips on having a career discussion with your mentor.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017 11:19

Surviving Your First Year of Graduate School

Written by

Advice guidance sign career planning sizeGraduate school is no walk in the park, and the first year can be especially hard because of the challenges that come with being in a new environment, learning what is expected of you, and the rigors of balancing lab work and classes. Many students end up feeling helpless, overwhelmed, and lost. We asked current graduate students about their first-year experiences and what advice they have for surviving the first year of graduate school.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 12:28

Picking Lab Rotations: Dating in Graduate School

Written by

Lab DatingYour first year of graduate school will probably consist of taking classes and doing lab rotations, a trial period to assess a lab and its people, while they assess you, to determine if it’s a good match. Rotations are like dating for a long-term relationship but with research and mentors. How many rotations do you do? How do you pick rotation labs? And, how long do you stay?

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 12:23

The What, Why, and How of Public Outreach in Science

Written by

photo 0170461730ighdrhIn today’s world, direct engagement with those outside of science is critical not only to communicating what we’ve discovered, but also to promoting an atmosphere of trust between scientists and the public. Direct engagement can mean many things, but for me, public outreach is a powerful and immediate means of bridging the gap.

Business Management Crop 2You’ve finally landed a job in research & development or in the clinical research division at a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company. After spending, a few years mastering your job, you might be thinking of moving into the business side of your company and ask yourself “How much business experience/background do I need to be competitive for a management position within industry?” We interviewed Dr. Alita Miller of Entasis Therapeutics and Dr. Sarah McHatton of Novozymes to get their insights on this question.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017 15:09

The Importance of Finding the Right Mentor

Written by

photo 0170252013rxzxnr 1Hear a personal story about mentorship from Dr. Alan Goggins, a new Microbiology and Immunology graduate. After a tough start with mentoring, he switched labs during graduate school and discovered a few factors to consider when finding the right mentor. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 10:15

5 Reasons Why Having Multiple Mentors Helps You

Written by

rsz board-784349 1280 1Who do you go to with questions on your career? Or when your PCR isn’t working? How about when you have a conflict with a coworker? Although it may be easier to approach your dissertation mentor or an appointed advisor to get clarity on these questions, why not consider going to an expert or another mentor? Learn about the benefits of having multiple mentors. 

Wednesday, 04 January 2017 16:50

How to Pick a Post-Doc Position

Written by

Test Tubes Final2One of the challenges for any PhD candidate is to decide if they want to pursue a post-doctoral position after graduation.  This challenge can become more daunting when decisions need to be made about where (and under who) this post-doc should be conducted as well as the post-doctoral research topic.  However, it’s important to know that you are not alone in making these types of decisions. Microbe Mentor reached out to three relatively new post-docs, regarding their post-doc decisions.  Despite different backgrounds, they collectively agreed that it was critical to first determine what was important to them. The factors and their importance played out differently for each of the three interviewed post-docs. 

RightQuestions ImageYou’ve heard about Medical Science Liaison (MSL) positions and even know alumni from your institution that have entered the field, but what does a MSL actually do?  Is it a sales position?  Is there a lot of travel? When you’re looking for answers to these myriad of questions, who do you turn to? How about someone who is currently in the job in the form of an informational interview? To learn how to do informational interviews and why they are important, check out the article.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016 10:45

A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding your Career Goals

Written by

The career planning process can start at any time, but the overall rule is the sooner the better. The rule applies to anyone -  whether you’re a junior undergraduate, 1st year graduate student, postdoctoral fellow or somewhere in between. The career planning process includes four steps: 1) Understanding You – What are your interests, values, and skills? 2) Exploration – What are the current career paths in the workforce and which do you find most interesting? 3) Building Yourself and Your Network – What skills, experiences, and people do you need to get to career X, Y, or Z? 4) Job Search – How do you put together a job application and execute the interview successfully? This process is important because it will help you shape your career aspirations and make you more marketable for a particular career. In return, these steps will make it easier for you to put your application materials together, including: cover letters, resumes, CVs, teaching philosophies, etc.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 15:29

How One Educator Brought Improv to the Classroom

Written by

photo 0162531924undfrmLaura MacDonald knew from an early age that she wanted to be an educator—as a kid, she used to line up her stuffed animals and teach them. But it wasn’t until her first year of graduate school in microbiology that she knew she wanted to focus her career on teaching at the undergraduate level. Laura graduated from Hendrix College in 2009 with a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and went on to complete her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2014. There weren’t many opportunities to teach at the University of Arkansas, so she reached out to her network at Hendrix and was able to guest lecture there during her graduate studies. She also started the Graduate Student Teachers of Central Arkansas group for like-minded students. As soon as she completed her Ph.D., she was hired to teach as an adjunct professor at Hendrix while also holding postdoc positions working on platelet research and cancer biology. 

How critical is a postdoc if I want to teach at a primarily undergraduate or 2-year institution?

To bring a broad perspective to the issue, Microbe Mentor editor Thomas Hanson asked three microbiologists at different career stages and types of institutions for their thoughts. Dr. Amy Cheng Vollmer is a Professor of Biology at Swarthmore College, Dr. Virginia Balke is an Instructor and Project Director at Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC), and Dr. Carie Frantz is an Assistant Professor of Geochemistry and Biogeoscience at Weber State University.

Dr. Vollmer’s research focuses on the stress response in Escherichia coli, and is moving towards microbiome characterization. She is the sole microbiologist in a Biology Department, where she has served twice as Department Chair. Research experience for students is an important part of the curriculum at Swarthmore and Dr. Vollmer has hosted over 70 students in her lab to date. She has previously written about her job in the August 2000 ASM News (66:459-462).

Crystal IcenhourWhile growing up, Crystal Icenhour worked in her family’s business, a large truck repair shop. She did everything from helping her mother with accounting to assisting her father with inventory and mopping the floors. Fast forward to today—after a blur of high-quality education (she finished her Ph.D. in a jaw-dropping four years) and starting a family—Crystal is CEO at Aperiomics.

How did Crystal go from earning her Ph.D. in pathobiology and molecular medicine to becoming the CEO of her own start up? Read about her story.

Dr. Roberto Kolter, Harvard Medical School and ASM President, gave a presentation to a group of graduate and postdoctoral students on why scientists need to be able to communicate effectively on March 18, 2010. This talk opened up the 2010 ASM Scientific Writing and Publishing Institute (now called the Scientific Writing and Publishing Course) that was held at ASM Headquarters in Washington, DC. The Institute provides four days of hands-on intensive training in scientific writing and publishing under the mentorship of ASM Journal editors and reviewers. Groups of four to six participants are paired with one experienced mentor from their field to provide individual critique and resources.


Dr. Erica Suchman covers the differences between a CV and resume, the elements of a CV, cover letters for postdoctoral positions, etc.

Loretta Brancaccio-Taras presents a webinar on teaching philosophy statements; she defines them and identifes elements that should be included in them. 

Erin Dolan discusses evidence-based undergraduate science education in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Erin is Executive Director of the Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science (TIDES), which aims to catalyze, support, and showcase innovative, evidence-based education. Download the Cultures article to learn more about TIDES and evidence-based teaching.

According to 139 biological societies polled, the greatest challenge facing biology in the coming years will be “the public lack of appreciation for biology, and decision makers not being informed about issues”. The skill of communicating science is now more important than ever. To learn more about the communication cycle and how to communicate science, download the article published in Cultures

Diploma ImageThe decision to attend graduate school has huge implications on any young microbiologist. It can determine lifelong colleagues and friends, impact future research directions, and build business opportunities. It is no wonder, then, that the ultimate goal of any applicant is to find a university, program, and ultimately an advisor, that will satisfy the student’s current and future needs. Once the applicant has identified where he or she would like to spend the next few years of their lives, either as a Master’s student or a Ph.D. candidate, the next challenge is to convince this university/program/advisor to accept the responsibility of taking on this new student. Similar to that of a job, this application process can be very competitive. Knowing this, you might think, "What can I do to make my graduate school applications stand out?” In other words, what can I do to better prepare myself for applying to graduate school? ASM reached out to three distinguished faculty members for their advice on this topic. Here’s what they had to say:

How important is it to do a postdoc if you want to pursue careers in science communication or policy?

This is an increasingly common question, so thanks for asking Microbe Mentor! The vast majority (~70%) of science Ph.D. students pursue a postdoc after graduation. However, you may wonder if it’s really necessary to do so if pursuing a non-research career such as science communication or science policy. To help answer this question, Microbe Mentor reached out to Erica Siebrasse, Ph.D., and Erika Shugart, Ph.D., for their insights.

Dr. Erica Siebrasse, the Education and Professional Development Manager at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, details how to successfully make the transition from academia to science communication or policy. Dr. Erika Shugart, Director of Communications and Strategic Marketing at ASM, explains what she looks for in candidates when she hires.

Both agree that it is not necessary to do a postdoc for careers in science policy or communication. However, it is necessary to have a solid plan and be passionate about the career path you choose.

Monday, 23 May 2016 10:01

Elevator Pitches 101

Written by

In this article of Microbe Mentor, we address the topic of elevator pitches; what are they? When do you use them? How do you prepare and execute an elevator pitch? Read what recommendations Dr. Shilpa Gadwal, Career Advancement Fellow at the American Society for Microbiology, has for elevator pitches when attending conferences and meetings.

Monday, 23 May 2016 09:54

Career Activities at ASM Microbe 2016

Written by

FINAL ASM web banner V2In our second edition of a two-part series about Microbe 2016, we invited Dr. Laura Runyen-Janecky, Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Richmond to provide insight on how students and postdocs can navigate the careers activities at Microbe 2016. Large meetings hosted by the American Society for Microbiology (such as ASM Microbe 2016, which is General Meeting and ICAAC combined) have plentiful opportunities to learn about cutting edge microbial science and to draw ideas and inspiration for one’s own science.  What many students and postdocs may be unaware of, however, are the equally exciting opportunities for career exploration and skill development alongside the super scientific discourse that is occurring daily. Whether you are an undergraduate student presenting your research for the first time at a national meeting, a graduate student contemplating future career options, or a postdoc wanting to develop a specific professional skill, ASM Microbe 2016 has just the workshop/session for you.

ASM members have expressed a significant interest in being able to gain career advice from microbiologists who have “been there and done that” and ASM has responded with an article on what advice they would give to their younger selves.

Friday, 20 May 2016 13:46

When to Bring Up Spousal Hiring

Written by

Like ~ 80% of other women in STEM disciplines, I am married to another PhD. We are both biologists and often collaborate together, but have very different research programs. He's now tenured and I am a post-doc. We would like to move closer to family, so I am applying for academic jobs and have had several on-campus interviews. When would you recommend bringing up the spousal hire situation? For each interview, I've done this at different times depending on the feel and size of the institution and/or when the illegal questions are asked. I've heard many different philosophies on this and still cannot make a decision as to which is the best way to proceed, assuming I get another interview.

When should an applicant divulge their marital status? We all know it is illegal to inquire about marital status, however some entities ignore the rule or more commonly an interviewer inadvertently introduces the topic. Can there be advantages to discussing marital status and issues of a trailing spouse in advance?Microbe Mentor reached out to several colleagues to gather their responses about how to handle this situation so many of us have faced.

How can I make myself more marketable for a career in Clinical Microbiology?

There are many excellent reasons to consider a career in the clinical field:  great salaries and job security, job portability, chance to use state of the art equipment – not to mention that your work improves patient health and saves lives.  To provide you with the essentials for working in clinical microbiology, Microbe Mentor asked Janet Hindler, MCLS MT (ASCP) to give her thoughts on this thriving and in-demand field. 

How does a young woman best survive and thrive in the sciences?   In a field that some still see as a man's territory, what advice would you give to a female scientist? 

As a woman, mid-career environmental microbiologist with a Ph.D. working in the chemical industry, I am fortunate to work with a group of excellent women engineers, geologists, chemists, and biologists. As women in STEM careers we are in the minority (for now). However, being of the minority gender for much of my career does not mean that it’s been a grim, lonely slog over the last twenty five years.  The vast majority of men I’ve worked with have been positive forces in my daily life as valued friends and mentors.

Having written that, I began to wonder, is my experience the norm? Is it specific to the field I’m in? Or am I clueless to when I’ve been dissed because of my gender? I suspect the answer to all three questions at different times might be “yes”. To gain more perspective I canvassed my women friends and colleagues about how they would answer this question. The following points are a distillation of these conversations; admittedly with my own bias. And for young male scientists who are reading this, these tips will benefit your career development as well! 

At the General Meeting 2015 in New Orleans, students, postdocs and early career scientists wandering around the exhibit floor found a board that said: “Post your career questions here and receive a free gift!” This triggered a range of questions scribbled on Post-it notes, such as: “What are my options outside of academia for a career?” Although we all enjoy a free gift, the biggest “gifts” in this case came from seasoned professionals who stopped by to leave answers. This question-and-answer activity revealed the next generation’s biggest concerns and effective ways to address them.

The roughly 500 questions and answers stuck on the board stretched from basic career advice to the sociology of science. Despite the small size of the Post-it notes, the professionals filled them with “big” answers.  For example the answer to “Problem with your lab work?” was “First try your best but then ask for help. Don’t suffer in silence!” In some ways, that answer forms the heart and soul of this exercise, and revealed the teamwork found within the ASM community of microbiologists of both today and tomorrow.

coffee laptop Career LPFor scientists it is imperative to relay your research to your colleagues through published papers.  But what if you find the idea of writing overwhelming – daunting even?  You struggle to stay motivated despite the many lab (and non-lab) distractions.  We reached out to senior doctoral students and postdocs who have experienced and overcome these obstacles.  Check out their 8 tips to begin writing your paper today!

Friday, 06 May 2016 17:05

The Future of Clinical Microbiology

Written by

Ellen Jo Baren, Executive Director of Technical Affairs at Cepheid, shares her thoughts on the changes in clinical microbiology and where it is headed. Download the Cultures article.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics published the Occupational Outlook Handbook in 2015 that contains information on duties, education and training, pay, and outlook for various occupations. Check out the information they collected for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians.

Because ~ 70% of patient care decisions are based on clinical laboratory results, it is important to have a well-trained supply of laboratory professionals. This downloadable article will give an overview of the situation and the possible causes of this shortage, and pose challenges to the clinical microbiology profession as to how this crisis can be averted.

Brochure

With ASM having a large number of clinical microbiologists and programs to support the profession, you can look to ASM for your career needs. Joseph Campos, PhD, Past-Secretary of ASM says, “The goal of this brochure is to…respond to the question – what is ASM doing for me as a clinical microbiologist?” The downloadable brochure presents ASM’s involvement in advocacy, certifications, expertise, etc. of the clinical microbiology profession.

Friday, 15 April 2016 09:21

Networking in Microbiology

Written by

You’ve heard it several times: the graduate student in Dr. Krebs’s lab who made a significant finding with a newly acquired collaborator and published a groundbreaking paper; or Lisa, who started a blog after she met Steve, a program coordinator in science communication, while in circuit training class. Networking creates new opportunities and therefore it’s very important to your research and your overall career.

So, how does one network in the field of microbiology? To learn more about this, Microbe Mentor reached out to microbiologists to ask for their one piece of advice for networking. The main take-away: do not limit your network to the people in your field. 

Friday, 15 April 2016 09:19

How to Market Yourself for Industry

Written by

restriction enzymes Career PlanningHow do I prepare myself for a position in microbiology with a different focus than what I was trained in? For example, I would like to do work in industry, but my thesis work has been in very basic research.

The short answer is:  talent is a currency accepted everywhere, and an educated and well-rounded microbiologist is a valuable commodity no matter what the work sector.  To elaborate on this idea, the Microbe Mentor reached out to Paul Dunman, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Friday, 15 April 2016 09:16

Preparing a Resume for Industry

Written by

I am about to graduate with a PhD, and would like to eventually find a job in industry.  How to I structure a professional resume for applying to industrial, non-academic positions?

Excellent question!  The fact that you understand that there even is a difference between a curriculum vitae, or CV, and an industrial/professional resume has you ahead of the game.   Quick review:  an academic CV catalogs a person’s academic career, thus contains the full reference for every publication and presentation given, all awards, honors, committee membership lists, etc.  A CV can encompass decades’ worth of a career.  The content and format are primarily tailored to highlight a person’s overall experience, and are reviewed by peers who generally understand the technical verbiage used in publication and presentation titles. 

In contrast, a professional resume summarizes the most recent years of a professional life (often not going back more than 10 years, unless something is particularly relevant).  The format and content of a resume are tailored to specifically highlight how closely an applicant matches a specific job posting.  Resumes are often reviewed by a Human Resources Department who will likely not be fluent in technical verbiage.

TPL_asm2013_ADDITIONAL_INFORMATION

TPL_asm2013_SEARCH

8