The Branching Career Pipeline: What, You Mean I Have Options?

January 30, 2012

New data about career paths for biomedical PhDs has been published by a group led by Cynthia Fuhrmann and Bill Lindstaedt from the University of California, San Francisco (essay in CBE-Life Sciences Education). They report data they have collected from graduate students in biomedical PhD programs at their school career centers.  The statistic that jumps off the page is that 71.2% of all graduate students polled were “strongly considering” a career that was outside of scientific research.  The non-scientific research careers were broad ranging (business of science, science policy, education-related, writing, etc.). 

There is a nice summary of the paper on Bio Job Blog that you can read by clicking here.  This poignant sentence should fuel the conversation to reshape graduate education and training: “Fuhrmann and Lindstaedt’s current study clearly shows that tenure track positions are no longer traditional career options for most graduate students and postdocs and paradoxically they have actually become a ‘nontraditional or alternate career route.’”

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NIH Alumni: Where are they now? Profile 8 – NIH Alumnus to NIH Tenure Track Investigator

January 17, 2012

This is the eighth in a series of profiles about recent NIH postdocs who have found an array of jobs, from academia to industry to communications and beyond, in the U.S. and abroad. What do they do now, and how did they get there? What challenges did they face, and what advice do they have? Read on to find out.

NOTE:  During the interview for this profile, Dr. Milner noted that he had some exciting findings his lab was submitting for publication.  Those findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and highlighted in the NIH e-clips.

Name: Joshua Milner

Current position: Tenure-track investigator, Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, NIAID, NIH

Location: Bethesda, MD

Time in current position: 2 years

Summer student project: Immunology research with Michael Lenardo at NIAID

Clinical fellow in allergy/immunology in William (Bill) Paul’s lab at NIAID

My story: I worked in Mike Lenardo’s lab for 3 summers right after high school. I had a few other internships, and when I did my residency after medical school, some of my projects involved collaborating with NIH researchers. Then I came back here for a fellowship in 2003.

Job search in a nutshell: The third year of my fellowship, I was approached by a major international medical center. I wasn’t anticipating that. For M.D. fellowships, that’s classically the time to get a job, but it was too early to get an NIH job. I liked what I was doing at NIAID enough that I was willing to wait to see if I could get a job here. I interviewed for that medical center job but I basically turned it down because it seemed too early. Still, I thought if I was approached by one place, I’d better contact others. I really didn’t know if I’d be able to stay at NIAID.

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Discussing Your Career with Your PI

January 9, 2012

Last week we challenged you to make your career a priority in 2012.  We even provided a calendar you could follow for the year.  As with most “resolutions” the first step is an extremely important step.  In our calendar to job success, that first step is to have a conversation with your PI about your career plans.  This is true no matter what career path you are planning, from academics, industry and beyond. 

We have conducted a random poll around the OITE and with fellows who have recently left.  The results are clear:  Having a conversation with their PI about the next step can be scary.  You may be unsure that you have enough data to actually say this is the year that you will move on.  If you are going to be a PI you may not be sure if will be able to take part of your project with you.  Perhaps you do not know what reaction you will get if you say you want to take a different career path than staying in academic research.  All of these factors can persuade you just to not have the conversation at all. 

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Career Resolutions: Setting a Calendar for Career Success in 2012

January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!  It is time for the annual tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.  Often the theme of resolutions is to better oneself through eating better, exercising more or changing a habit that drives us crazy (this will be the year that I paste every gel into my notebook and stop using paper towels for my calculations!).  While healthy bodies and well organized notebooks are great things, we encourage you to resolve to prioritize advancing your career.  Do you need to make a decision about what to do after your training?  Do you need to network more and/or more efficiently?  Do you need to develop skills to make a successful transition to the next step in your career? 

We all know that resolutions often do not see success beyond the second week of February.  Saying that you are going to make your career a priority in 2012 is not enough.  You should also make a plan for how to do that.  Below we have sketched out a timeline of things to do in 2012 to make sure that you are ready to face that next step. 

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