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.

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. 
Are you interested in science policy? Dr. Kate Stoll, a Senior Policy Advisor, shares her career path, what she does in her current position, and how to be competitive for science policy. In her current role, she bridges researchers and policy-makers by creating policy-relevant reports that are shared with the government. 
Wednesday, 15 February 2017 11:54

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

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In 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 Katherine Lontok, public outreach is a powerful and immediate means of bridging the gap. She explains what public outreach is, why it's important, and how to do it yourself. 
You know about industry research, but what about government research that includes aspects of regulatory review? We break down how one student transitioned from academia to government, the differences between the two sectors, and how to get involved in regulatory review once inside the FDA. She also goes on to share her passion of getting more women into science.  
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 08:54

Experience Needed for an Industry Managerial Career

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You’ve finally landed a research job in a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company and after spending a few years mastering your job, you might want to move into the business side. But exactly how much business experience/background do you 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 11:59

The Importance of Finding the Right Mentor

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With January being National Mentoring Month, we hear 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 10:00

5 Reasons Why Having Multiple Mentors Helps You

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Who 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? In celebration of National Mentoring Month, learn about the benefits of having multiple mentors. 
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 15:21

How to Pick a Post-Doc Position

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One 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…
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