Non-traditional careers within Academia and how to get them with Nathan Vanderford

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Nathan Vanderford joined us for a great seminar on navigating the world of alternative careers in Academia!  

Where do current US Biology, Agricultural and Environmental PhD Grads work post-defense?

  • 52% in Academia
  • 48% in Industry

It’s OK to not pursue a tenure track position!

Percent of Doctorate Recipients With Job or Postdoc Commitments, by Field of Study
Field 2004 2009 2014
All 70.0% 69.5% 61.4%
Life sciences 71.2% 66.8% 57.9%
Physical sciences 71.5% 72.1% 63.8%
Social sciences 71.3% 72.9% 68.8%
Engineering 63.6% 66.8% 57.0%
Education 74.6% 71.6% 64.6%
Humanities 63.4% 63.3% 54.3%

Use your PhD as a hub for your career path.

Nathan’s Story:

2003: Bachelors in Science
2008: PhD in Biochemistry
2009-2010: Scientific Writer and Editor (Markey Cancer Center, U. Kentucky)
2010-2011: Postdoctoral Fellowship (Moleculr Physiology & Biphysics, Vanderbilt University)
2010-2011: Director of Research Communications (Markey Cancer Center, U. Kentucky)

-decided to pursue and career in administration
-no interviews!!  What now?
-refocused cover letter from research to transferrable skills

-applied for entry level (vs. jobs with experience)
2013: Masters of Business Administration (Midway University)
-Nathan highly recommends an MBA for anyone interested in careers in business or working in a non-profit
2014-present: Assistant Dean for Academic Development (College of Medicine, U. Kentucky)
2014-present: Assistant Professor (Dept. of Toxicology & Cancer, U. Kentucky)
Nathan’s job description:
Provide scientifically-oriented administrative support to all cancer research and related academic/career development activities within the Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, the Markey Cancer Center and the College of Medicine
  • Operations manager
  • Administrator 
  • Manager
  • Consultant
  • Strategist
  • PR/Marketing liaison
  • Government affairs liaison
  • Teacher/mentor
  • Career Development
  • Researcher
What does a research administrator do?
Grant and state support activities
  • Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Fund
  • Cigarette Excise Tax Program
  • Cancer Center Support Grant (Ass’t Director for Research)
  • Career Training in Oncology Program (Creator/Founder and Director)
Lots of reporting to the state and government agencies!

Using your PhD as a hub for career selection:

  • Academic affairs
  • Institutional Effectiveness
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Library Services
  • Economic Development
  • Extension Services
  • Information Services
  • Philanthropy
  • Finance and Administration
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Sponsored Projects
  • Research Compliance
  • Research Operations
  • Research Development
  • Health Care Entrepreneurship support

How to find your next job:

  • Provide value
  • Network
  • Develop your personal brand
    • your knowledge
    • your value proposition
    • your mission
    • your values
    • your skills
    • your vision
  • Use social media to advertising and demonstrate your brand
    • Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Blogger, LinkedIn, Instagram
  • Gain practical work experience in your field of interest through internships, volunteering and collaborations

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