Welcome Summer Interns: OITE Blogs of Interest

June 19, 2017

 

The Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) of the NIH extends a warm welcome to the Summer 2017 interns. Over the next few months, you will engage in many unique opportunities in biomedical research that will encourage you to consider pursuing careers and further graduate study in the field.  As you are settling in to your lab and meeting your PIs and fellow trainees, we want to make sure that you are aware of a variety of helpful blog posts that will help you to maximize your summer experience.

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Getting oriented to a new lab and role as a researcher is both exciting and somewhat challenging for summer interns. We suggest reading the blog Understanding the Impact of Change to learn about the key factors associated with any transition.  Next read Making the Most of Your Transition to the NIH.

One of the challenges in most careers is how to achieve a healthy work-life balance. The OITE Director and our wellness programming staff encourage you to review our model of wellness and managing stress as part of your training to be a successful scientist.

Meeting your new mentor is another opportunity that you will have this summer. To prepare yourself for this essential growth opportunity, we suggest reading the blogs on Identifying Mentors and Learning How To Make the Most of Mentoring Relationships.

Career decision making and pursuing graduate or professional school options are also areas that which you will embrace during the summer.  In addition to utilizing the resources at your college and university during the academic year, the OITE Career Services Center has career counselors who will help you explore you assess how your values, interests, and skills relate to healthy career decision making and/or develop CV, resumes, and practice interviewing skills.   We also offer pre-professional advisors who will help you to prepare you to apply for graduate or professional school.  Stay tuned for a blog post that will prepare you for the Graduate and Professional School Fair on July 18, 2017 where representatives from a number of schools will come to NIH to meet you and share information about their programs.

We look forward to working with you this summer. Visit the OITE website for further information.  For our readers who are alumni or outside of the NIH, we encourage you to seek similar services through your training director, or your college and university or in the community.

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Top Ten Blog Posts of 2015

December 14, 2015

Image of a blue sign reading "Top 10" and a red calendar reading "2015"In case you missed them, here are some of the most popular blog posts from this past year. These are quick, informative reads which can help pass the time during holiday travel.

1. Job Search Paralysis
If you are feeling unmotivated by your job search or are constantly procrastinating items on your career development to-do list, then this post is a must read. It looks at the seven types of inner critics. Maybe you will recognize which particular type applies to you and how it could be impacting your job search psyche.

2. 4 Powerful Questions
Looking to recharge some aspect of your career and/or life? This post reviews a career development theory, John Krumboltz’s Happenstance Learning Theory. Unlike a lot of theories, this one has great real-life applications, including very powerful questions to ask yourself.

3. MCAT Meltdown – Dealing with Test Anxiety
Tips on how to manage anxiety not only during your test preparation, but on the actual test day as well. If you are prone to anxiety, especially text anxiety, then this is a must read post.

4. PhD in Depression?
This post reviews data from UC Berkeley which found almost half of STEM PhDs are depressed. Graduate school can be an especially vulnerable time for individuals; however, some effective coping mechanisms are addressed in this post.

5. MD/PhD: Is it Right for You?
How can you decide if an MD/PhD program is right for you? This blog reviews information presented at NIH’s Graduate & Professional School Fair about what an MD/PhD programs entails and how you can figure out if that is the right option for you.

6. Yawnfest: Don’t Be a Boring Interviewee
Tips on how to stand out for the right reasons in your next interview, including ideas on how to manage your interview anxiety.

7. Maximizers – Doing Better but Feeling Worse
Career decisions can be very difficult. This blog post looks at two basic decision-making styles – maximizers and satisficers. Take a quiz to find out which one you are and how this could be impacting your career choices.

8. Guide to Cover Letters and Guide to Resumes and Curricula Vitae
Bookmark these two posts so that you can reference them in the future. These guides give you an overview of resumes, CVs and cover letters. Also included are sample of effective resumes, CVs and cover letters so you have a better idea of how to correctly format your job search documents.

9. Is Grit the Key to Success?
In all of Dr. Duckworth’s research, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success – grit. Why is it important and how gritty are you compared to others? Read this blog post to find out more.

10. The Power of Thank You
Gratitude can increase your sense of well-being and it can also play an important role in your professional trajectory. Personal anecdotes are shared about how thank you notes have transformed careers as well as an activity on how you can learn to cultivate gratitude.

We hope you enjoyed this year-end recap of some of your favorite blog posts from 2015. In 2016, be sure to start following the OITE Career Blog so you don’t miss any future posts. If you want to be emailed copies of new posts, sign up here.


3 Tips for Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

August 28, 2014

For better or worse, LinkedIn has become the new résumé and whether you like it or not, you are being searched online. Generally, only the top four or five results are being reviewed, so it is imperative that you use your LinkedIn profile to optimize your online presence and control your professional branding.

Not on LinkedIn? Well, your lack of a presence says something too, especially with 60 million users in the United States. If a recruiter can’t find you on LinkedIn, they might falsely assume you aren’t tech savvy or that you have antiquated views of the world of searching for work.

When utilized during a job search, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool and it is crucial to make sure your LinkedIn profile is professional and up to date.

Here are some more tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile:

  1. Upload a photo.
    Many people have concerns about uploading a photo to LinkedIn, especially since photos aren’t usually included on résumés or CVs in the United States. Worries about ageism, racism and sexism obviously trump more innocuous concerns about simply not being photogenic.  Ageism, racism and sexism are all extremely valid concerns within any job search; however, the benefit of a photo is that it makes you human and not just a hyperlink. Profiles with photos get clicked on seven more times than those without.An image of a LinkedIn page with yellow and orange spots showing where recruiters looks the most. Further highlighting the importance of a photo on your profile can be seen in a study done by Ladders which used heat maps to review the eye tracking techniques of thirty recruiters over a ten week period. They found that recruiters spent 19% of their total time looking at your picture. Where did they look next? Your summary, so…
  2. Avoid long, boring summaries.
    Your summary is not meant to be a data dump or a novel of long paragraphs that will potentially overwhelm, or worse, bore the reader. There are two possible solutions. Solution A. Keep it simple with one sentence, which will hopefully encompass great keywords and will encourage the reader to keep scrolling down to read more. Solution B. Use an overarching key statement and then bullet points.
  3. Make sure your groups add to your brand.
    Groups are a great way to connect with like-minded individuals; however, being a member of too many disparate groups can begin to dilute your professional branding. An easy fix is to go in and make some of your group memberships invisible. To do so, simply go to the group section within your profile and you will see a visibility setting which you can adjust by unchecking the box “Display the group logo on your profile.”

Finally, another way to optimize your LinkedIn profile is quite simple: use it more. The more you use LinkedIn, the better it works. By doing some searches for jobs, groups and even people, LinkedIn will begin to recognize what you are looking for and it will offer suggestions. An additional way to increase your visibility is to participate more by asking thoughtful, professional questions to your groups and/or by commenting on industry-specific articles.

With that advice in mind, what other LinkedIn tips could you share? Feel free to share any comments in the OITE NIH Intramural Science group on LinkedIn.


Review of ResearchGate

March 24, 2014

Screen shot of a user profile on ResearchGate. The user profile highlighted is Ijad Madisch, one of ResearchGate's founders.Recently a few trainees have inquired about ResearchGate, so we decided to take a further look at this site. It was founded in 2008 by two physicians who discovered that collaborating with a friend or colleague (especially one across the world) was no easy task. They created this website with the intent of helping make scientific progress happen faster.

ResearchGate has been described as a mash up of familiar social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn because it contains profile pages, groups, job listings, the ability to leave comments as well as “like” and “follow” buttons. However, this social networking site is designed exclusively for scientists and researchers. According to ResearchGate’s site, there are four million users and their primary aim is to:

• Share publications
• Seek new collaborations
• Ask questions and hopefully receive answers from like-minded researchers
• Connect with colleagues

ResearchGate is free to join and members can upload copies of their papers. All papers will be searchable, which also allows users to track and follow the research publications of others in their field. Researchers are encouraged to not only upload successful results but those from failed projects or experiments, which are stored in a separate but still searchable area. The official mission of this site states: We believe science should be open and transparent. This is why we’ve made it our mission to connect researchers and make it easy for them to share, discover, use, and distribute findings. We help researchers voice feedback and build reputation through open discussion and evaluations of each other’s research.

Some critics of ResearchGate argue that even though the site states that there are four million users, it seems there are a lot of inactive profiles. Another criticism has focused on the fact that there hasn’t been much buy in from senior researchers meaning a high percentage of users are students or junior researchers. If you decide to create a ResearchGate profile, make sure you tailor the notification and privacy settings associated with your account since some members have complained about unwanted email spamming.

At this point, ResearchGate shouldn’t be the only site you use for networking, but it can be another helpful tool to connect with like-minded scientists/researchers and additionally it can be another way to help promote your work. As with any site, the more effort you put in, the more you will likely get out of this resource.

We would love to hear your thoughts about ResearchGate! If you have used it, what do you see as the pros and cons? Do you have any recommendations for future users?

**Compilation of Readers’ Reviews**

* In addition to networking, it is extremely useful as a research tool. A couple of points:
-When users sign up the website automatically adds the publications that have your name and appear in your profile, it also continues searching and when one
publishes an article it is also added automatically.
– It also suggests to connect with people that you cite and people who cite you so it is a tremendous tool to keep up with people in your field.
– People can ask questions about experiments and also get immediate feedback if they have questions about a publication instead of having to wonder.
– It allows you to follow senior investigators the same way one can follow a celebrity on Twitter, but there are no tweets and unless you ask a question all the conversations are personal,
there are no “wall postings.”

* It seems to be getting some traction with senior investigators. In the future, it may become more relevant to academia than perhaps LinkedIn.  Within ResearchGate, it is easier to connect with senior investigators because requests are not sent to connect, rather one just “follows” researchers.


Taking Ownership of Your Career: Developing an Individual Development Plan (IDP)

February 6, 2014

Silhouetee of a person looking at arrows pointing in different directionsHave you drafted a career plan? Do you know if you have the required skills for your dream job? Figuring out the next step in your career and how to prepare for it can be stressful. But developing a plan, early on in your career, will help guide you through this process of identifying and achieving your career goals.

This year, the OITE will be dedicating its blog to help you develop a Career Success Plan, focusing on a variety of core competencies that are critical for your career development, the first being career exploration and planning. This is where creating an individual development plan (IDP) comes into play. But, what is an IDP? And why it is so important?

An IDP is a personalized document developed to help you define your career goals and implement strategies to help you accomplish those goals. There are many ways to develop your IDP. In fact, some universities, organizations, and/or institutes may have their own IDP documents in place. No matter what stage your career is in (postbac, grad student, postdoc) or what career path you are pursuing, an IDP can help you focus on short and long term goals with an action plan to follow. Remember, that as your career progresses, your plans might change, so you can always come back and review your goals adjusting them to your current situation.

Developing an IDP requires time and effort. So it is important that you not only think thoroughly about your career by doing an honest self-assessment but also, by being committed to applying the strategies established in your plan to reach your goals. To help you build your IDP, we discuss briefly the some important elements of the IDP.

Conduct a Self-Assessment

Self-assessment helps you identify skills, interests and values that are key to finding a career that fits you. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your skills (such as communication and leadership), interests (such as mentoring and designing experiments) and values (such as fast-paced environment and flexibility) will all help you evaluate your needs and priorities in your career.

Explore Different Careers

Once you understand your needs and priorities, how do they relate to possible career paths? With so many career options, you want to make sure that the career path you choose matches your skillset and interests. You might also find a career path that you didn’t think about before but fits your needs. When exploring career options, networking and informational interviewing play a critical role to understand those careers that you are unfamiliar with and learn insights of the job.

Set Goals

Now that you have explored different careers, what is your plan to get there? This is where you should develop your short and long term goals that are SMART. By doing so, you will hopefully establish a timeline to stick to your goal.

Implement Plan

Finally and most importantly, is to put your IDP in ACTION! Remember, you are in control of your own career. If you don’t take it seriously, no one else will.

Even though you can complete an IDP by yourself, you should choose a mentoring team that can guide and advise you through this process. Mentors play a critical part of the career planning process not only because of their personal and professional experiences but also because they can: provide feedback about your skills; help you reflect on your interests and values; and keep you motivated and focused.

* Science Careers has a web-based career-planning tool called myIDP that can help graduate students and postdocs develop their IDP. SACNAS-IDP also provides advice on how to build a IDP for undergraduate students

** Disclaimer: This blog is informational and does not constitute an endorsement to Science nor SACNAS Website by NIH OITE


Career Assessments: MBTI vs STRONG

January 22, 2014

Image of a pen marking answers to a quizCareer assessments are valuable tools to help you during your career exploration and planning. They can be a great starting point and the results can help you think more deeply about your own personal preferences and career interests. Two formal assessments are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory.  To take these assessments, questions are answered online and then the results are shared and discussed during an appointment with a career counselor.

A career counselor can also help you determine which assessment (if any) is right for you; however, this blog will give you an overview of each assessment through the lens of three questions:  1. What is it? 2. Why should you take it? 3. How can you use the results?

MYERS BRIGGS-TYPE INDICATOR (MBTI)

1.  What is it?
The Myers Briggs is an assessment with the aim of measuring your personality preferences along four different dichotomous dimensions. The MBTI helps people answer the following questions:   Where do you focus your attention and/or get your energy?; How do you prefer to take in information?; How do you make decisions?; and finally, How do you organize the world around you? Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs extrapolated these dimensions from Carl Jung’s theories regarding psychological types.  Myers and Briggs believed that in order to have a more satisfied life, people needed to better understand themselves which could then help them choose an occupation which better suited their personality.

2.  Why should you take it?
Today, the Myers Briggs is one of the most widely used instruments.  Many people find it useful as a way of understanding themselves, as well as their commonalities and differences with others.  Not only is it often used as a tool for self-understanding and career development, but many organizations also use this assessment for the purposes of team building, management/leadership training, and to help recognize differences in communication styles – all of which have direct implications during every phase of one’s job search.

3.  How to use the results?
The Myers Briggs will not tell you specific career paths you should choose; however, you can utilize your results to consider the pros and cons of different employment sectors/occupations and how much they match with your personal preferences.

STRONG INTEREST INVENTORY

1.  What is it?
The Strong Interest Inventory was written by psychologist, E.K. Strong, Jr.  in 1927 with the purpose of helping individuals exiting military service to find suitable occupations.  Today, the Strong Interest Inventory is based on John Holland’s theory of occupational themes. Work environments are classified into six different theme codes — Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, & Conventional (RIASEC). Generally, the Strong gives each test taker a three letter code representing their highest matches.

2.  Why should you take it?
This is a helpful tool if you are uncertain about your career interests.  It connects your interests with possible career options and categorizes your interests based on four different scales: General Occupational Themes, Basic Interest Scales, Occupational Scales, and Personal Style Scales.  Anyone can take this assessment; however, young adults might benefit the most since it also helps to highlight new occupations which might not have been considered.

 3.  How to use the results?
The Strong Interest Inventory generates a list of your top ten basic occupations and these results can give you new ideas and occupations to consider as you continue your career exploration and planning. The Department of Labor (DOL) has been using the RIASEC model in its free online database, the Occupational Information Network  (O*NET).  This is extremely helpful because you can take the information that you learn from your Strong Interest Inventory to explore even more occupations of possible interest.  Then, you can utilize the DOL’s Occupational Outlook Handbook to look into each occupation more in-depth by examining preferred qualifications, projected industry growth and typical work environments.

***

More information on both assessments can be discussed with a career counselor or online through CPP, Inc., the company which administers both the Myers-Briggs and the Strong Interest Inventory. Additionally, the OITE encourages individuals to participate in the Workplace Dynamics workshop series where the MBTI is administered and discussed as a group with the aim of helping you better understand yourself and your communication skills.


13 Best Career Websites of 2013

December 16, 2013

An image of a magnifying glass with "2013" in bold.2013 is quickly coming to a close and the approach of a new year can be a great time to reflect – not only on the past year, but also on what you hope to accomplish in the coming year.  Inspired by year in review montages we have already begun seeing, we decided to take time to reflect on this year as well, specifically on some of the best career resources at one’s fingertips in 2013. This is not an exhaustive list, nor is it in rank order.  As always, we would love to hear your input – please share your very own “Best of 2013” resources in the comments.

1. LinkedIn
LinkedIn is still the largest professional networking site with more than 238 million users in 200-some countries worldwide. This service is still the most highly utilized option to connect with networks of people. Increasingly, recruiters are also using the site to source candidates for open positions.

2. Indeed
Indeed aggregates data from across the web with a Google-like search engine. It pulls information from job boards and company websites while utilizing a clean, user-friendly interface. All you need to do is put in your keyword and zip code and you will see results within a 50-mile radius.

3. SimplyHired
SimplyHired operates in a very similar way to Indeed; however, one extra benefit is that, when logged in, the site will also show you LinkedIn connections you may have at that organization.

4. Idealist
Idealist is the largest nonprofit job board in the United States. The site also features a blog with inspiring stories and the ability to search for volunteer opportunities by geographic location or keyword.

5. Salary.com
Salary.com provides data on average salaries based on job title and geographic location. This can be a great tool to utilize to help you prepare for an upcoming salary negotiation. Plus, it also has a “Cost of Living Wizard” which can help you understand how far your salary would go in a new city.

6. Glassdoor
Like its name implies, Glassdoor gives you a transparent look inside a company.  This is a completely anonymous site that allows users to disclose information about the pros and cons of an organization. Users will also post interview questions they were asked and some will even share salary information. You must create an account and log in to view the full information provided. Keep in mind that users at Glassdoor input their own salary data (which is not verified by the employer).  Glassdoor does evaluate the data to make sure that it meets community guidelines and is not suspicious. 

7. USAJOBS
The official site for government jobs – it includes postings from very diverse agencies across the government.  By law, any open federal position must be posted on this site. The site also has comprehensive employment information about eligibility, compensation, and benefits.  For help on navigating this dense site, see our previous blog post, “Which Federal Agencies & Contractors Hire Scientists.”

8. ScienceCareers
The ultimate career development and job search site for scientists. This is a global site with special-focus portals such as Minority Scientists Network and Postdoc Network.

9. ScienceJobs
From New Scientist Magazine, this site features job listings, a resume database and employer profiles.

10. BioCareers
The career center for job seekers in the life sciences. This site features industry articles, company information, job profiles, and career fairs.

11. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Department of Labor compiles labor statistics and creates an Occupational Outlook Handbook each year. This is a fantastic but not oft utilized resource which details hundreds of occupations under the categories: What They Do, How to Become One, Work Environment, Pay, and Growth/Employment Projections for each occupation.

12. Evisors
Evisors tries to connect job seekers with mentors under the mission of democratizing access to great career advice. You can search the database to find your perfect career coach and you can also sign up to become a mentor to others.

13. OITE
The OITE website gives trainees access to a multitude of resources, including: the NIH Alumni Database, videocasts of highly relevant career workshops, and career information for all of the different populations here at the NIH. On top of this, it gives you access to the following services: career counseling, leadership and development coaching, resume/CV/cover letter critiques, mock interview help, formal assessments, and much more.

As evidenced from this list, there are many great resources on the web; however, we want to remind you to utilize these online sites as a way to research companies and individuals in order to then make face-to-face connections. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

* Disclaimer: The online resources noted in this post are merely informational in nature and listing them does not constitute an endorsement by NIH OITE.