Careers

ASM’s careers blog focuses on young scientists seeking career advice, professional development and career exploration. Here you’ll find “a day in the life” profiles on working scientists, tips and tricks on how to craft resumes, find a mentor and transition from academia to industry.

Bench-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.
Dr. Jennifer Groh is a Talent Development Consultant (TDC) at the Fortune 50 company, Caterpillar Inc. in Lafayette, IN. She received a Ph.D. in environmental microbiology from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. She became interested in motivating students to link their passions and interests with a STEM career. She worked in higher education as a Graduate Programs Coordinator and Associate Director before moving into industry. She encourages that every microbiology student should learn more about him/herself and to let others know of your interests when it’s time to getting a “real” job.  
ASM asked six ASM members included in the ASCP's "40 Under Forty" listing of young, successful scientists,"what advice do you have for those considering a career in clinical microbiology? What is the best career advice you've received?" Here is what they said.
The 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.
How do you seek out mentors in a clinical microbiology lab? What are some reputable resources to use? Debra Myers, a Microbiology Chief Technologist at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, shares her insights on what newly hired lab/bench technicians in clinical microbiology can do to navigate the beginning stages of their career.  
Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:28

The Art of Acing the Qualifying Exam

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Most 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.
Wednesday, 07 June 2017 15:47

How to Market Yourself for Industry

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A common misconception is that trainees with purely basic research experience do not have the proper skill-sets and therefore, are not qualified for industrial positions.  That could not be farther from the truth, particularly if one considers that virtually every industrial project is predicated by a basic understanding of the system of interest. The challenge for basic scientists in transitioning to industry is finding job opportunities. Paul Dunman, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, shares his tips for finding job opportunities and interviewing in industry.
Tuesday, 30 May 2017 11:33

Storytelling Your Science in Manuscripts

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For 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.”
You 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.  
Modern 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 12:32

Key Tips to Overcoming Experimental Hurdles

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Anyone 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.
In 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.    
Many 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, 12 April 2017 10:43

Social Streaking: When Science & Art Merge

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Have you seen this image? It generated headlines as part of the American Society for Microbiology’s annual Agar Art contest. ASM has run this contest since 2015, but some scientists, like scientist/artist Caitlin Cahak of the Instagram account @Stylish_Streaking, have been creating pieces of their own well before the contest started.
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 09:50

The Talk: A Career Discussion with Your Mentor

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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 09:53

Surviving Your First Year of Graduate School

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Graduate 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 11:48

Picking Lab Rotations: Dating in Graduate School

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Your 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?
When Bryan Crable was a graduate student, he attended an ASM conference and learned about research in the government sector at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He later decided to do a postdoc there and now is a Research Scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory. He shares what makes networking worthwhile and what helped him in his career.
Wednesday, 08 March 2017 14:07

Perspectives: Thriving in the Sciences as a Woman

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On International Women’s Day, we hear from women about their perspectives on thriving in the sciences. They recommend that women be more confident and find key mentors that can guide them through the initial stages of their career. They encourage all women to be supportive of other women and their choices.
Some of us know that we want to pursue a Ph.D. and conduct research, while others have doubts. If you had an occasional internship or no research experience at all, becoming a lab tech is a good way to assess whether research excites you. We interviewed Brittney Ivanov, a lab tech at Trinity University, about what she does and what factors to consider for a lab tech job. Her experience has taught her that research is a very collaborative environment that must include outreach to the general public. 
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