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Workshops in Preparing Future Professionals: A Model in Postdoc Career Development

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We were joined by Nathan Vanderford from the University of Kentucky on the second part of his seminar series, this time demonstrating valuable tools and lessons to develop a course or workshop on professional development for PhDs!





Realities of today’s workforce with PhD degrees

2% unemployment

52% within academic
48% outside academia

26% for profit
9% non-profit
8% federal employment
3% self-employed
2% state employment

Graduate students interest in moving into the tenure track declines over time:
41.7% First Year
21%Third Year
(Fuhmann et al CBE Life Sci Ed 2011)

But, there is no concerted training for alternative careers!

Goals of the course:
– Understand the realities of the job market
– Realise what skills are required to transition
– Identify resources
– Take action to prepare for their chosen career

Five Major Didactic Requirements:

Career Exploration
– Explore the career paths that are of interest to them
– Written paper on necessary skills

Transferrable Skills
– Perform a self assessment and create action plans for improving identified weaknesses

Informational Interviews
– Students contact an individual in their ideal career and conduct an informational interview to develop networking skills
– How did the interviewee obtain their workplace skills?
– How did graduate skill prepare you for this career?
– Expand student’s network by asking for additional points of contact

Career Development
– Students obtain experiences in critical components of the job search process including résumé and cover letter writing
– Practice interviewing and job search execution

Student Engagement
– Students interact with guest speakers as well as present their finding from each assignment to promote student-driven discussions

Demographics:
6% Postdocs
55% PhD trainees
32% Master’s students
6% Other (undergraduates, non-degree seekers)

Course Strengths:
– Safe environment to explore their career options and work through options in a positive way
– Self-assessment
– Identification of career options
– Student engagement
– Student-driven discussion
– Diversity of disciplines
– Development of work readiness skills

Course Challenges:
– Diversity of disciplines (which guest speakers, from which disciplines)
– Tuition (who pays?)
– Permission to attend (scheduling of the class versus time spend for research)
– Course versus workshop format

Course versus Workshop Format

Course:
Positives:
– Sustained engagement
– Incentives (grade) to participate
– Effective platform for exercises

Challenges:
– Costly
– Limited reach
– PI resistance

Workshop:
Positives:
– Free
– Reach a larger audience

Challenges:
– Interrupted engagement
– No incentive to participate in exercises
– Non-effective platform for exercises

Future Plans:
Certificate Program:
– Work hours component (4 hours)
– Course hours (2 hours)

Tips for trainees:

Goal setting tips:
– Write out goals and map out a strategy
– Post your goals where you can easily see them

Career Exploration and Networking:
– LinkedIn
– Alumni network
– Informational interviews
– Work Experience

Transferrable skills:
– Functional skills
– Knowledge-based skills
– Personal traits and attitudes

– A realistic assessment helps with your placement and career success

Tools to assess transferrable skills:
– Science Careers myIDP
– Gallup StrengthsFinder
– SkillScan
– MN Career Pathways
– Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

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%

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/04/04/new-data-show-tightening-phd-job-market-across-disciplines

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

Tufts University Postdocs Can Now Access the VersatilePhD!

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Interested in exploring non-academic career options? 
 
Versatile PhD is the oldest, largest online community dedicated to non-academic and non-faculty careers for PhDs in humanities, social science and STEM. Join over 70,000 other members in learning about options for those in (and out) of graduate school!
 
VPhD helps graduate students identify, prepare for, and excel in possible non-academic careers. The site includes content for humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields. You’ll have access to the career finder as well as real-life examples of Ph.Ds, ABDs and MAs who pursued non-academic careers. You’ll get their stories, advice, inside information about their fields, and even the actual resumes and cover letters they used to get their first non-academic jobs. You also get access to the community discussion forums, a member directory listing thousands of PhDs working across the United States, job listings, and great information about a wide variety of possible careers.
 
Log into Jumbo Jobs, then click on “Resource Library” and click on the Versatile PhD link to access this resource. 

Stay tuned for a seminar on using the VersatilePhD in your career development!

Login in using “postdoc” as your login and “guest” as your password.
Click on resource links.
Navigate to the VersatilePhD to register your email.
Register using any email address.
Activate your account by checking your email.

 

Check out the forums and ask questions of the great online community!

 

 

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Speed Networking & Career Panel

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Learn about PhDs and Tufts alum that have successfully transitioned into careers in Industry!

 

In attendance: 
 
Antoine Boudot – in vitro Cancer Biologist at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (former postdoc at Tufts)
April Blodgett – Sales and bioconsulting at PerkinElmer
Anh Hoang – Co-founder / CSO at Sofregen Medical
Michael Mattoni – Senior patent agent at Mintz Levin
Travis D’Cruz – Licensing associate at Tufts University
Michael Doire – Department manager – Biology at Tufts University
Angela Kaczmarczyk – Scientist / Founder of BosLabs
Nina Dudnik – Scientist / Founder and CEO of Seeding Labs
What drove your career path away from academia?
April: A lot of work and little pay.
Antoine: Too many postdocs in the Boston/Cambridge area that also want to do the same as you do.
Travis: Going through the motions and seeing his PIs on their offices for so long, writing grants and not doing actual science.
Nina: Never wanted to be an academic. What she cared most about was not about the details of the experiment but to explain/communicate to others why the science matters.
 
What do you do to step away from the academic path? What research did you do to prepare yourself to move out of academia?
 
Antoine
  • He works at the bench everyday as he used to do as a postdoc, but he enjoys not having to worry about funding and getting materials/reagents.
  • Set up a LinkedIn account and realized it was about building connections. He also went to networking events and started making connections within Merrimack. So start making connections now!
April:
  • Make connections now. Do not expect to connect with people now and then ask for help or a job the following day. Having a vaccine background helped her (microbiologist by training).
  • She loves the speed/demands of her job. She felt like making a change after several years and she likes doing sales, so she made the move and started thinking about previous experiences that translate to sales so that she could use them to get the job.
Ang:
  • After publishing in a high impact journal paper, nothing happens. What was conflicting for her was that all that work led to a high impact journal paper would not progress much beyond that. Thus, she wanted to do something about it and started a company.
  • She came from a large, well-funded research group, so she says she had resources. She also did studies toward a MBA. Postdoc’d at day and hustled at night.
  • Her postdoc did not prepare her for any of this! The learning curve was very steep. When starting a company you do wear 5 hats 40 hours a week. The postdoc prepared her for the science part (to sell the idea to investors), but not the business side of it. She didn’t know how to incorporate a company, how to pay her employees, how to provide them with benefits… People management is a whole different subject to deal with when setting up a company.
Michael M.:
  • Realized didn’t want to do research 3 or so years into the PhD, but he pushed through. He went to the tech transfer office and asked if they had an intern position. He now wears 3 hats at his job.
  • No need to be an attorney to become a patent agent.
  • Soft skills from the postdoc to apply for a job: the dealing with people, wearing twelve different hats.
Travis:
  • Sought out what other options are there. He found other postdocs who started a small consulting group and he joined them. That helped him stand out among a pool of job applicants when he finished his postdoc. Think outside the box!
Skills that you gained during your postdoc?
 
Michael D.
  • Took a different path: he did graduate school in molecular biology but as he progressed through grad school he realized that he didn’t want to necessarily do that.
  • Skills: Learning does not often solely happen in the class room. You learn valuable skills at your work place. Rarely the person who knows more in the lab is not the PI (not in terms of the everyday requirements). It’s usually the lab manager/technician.
  • He looks for people with passion and knowledge. Doesn’t care about people coming from top schools alone.
Michael M.:
  • A major skill is to ask the right questions! In his case: what does a specific sector need? How can he become an asset to their organization? Utility-centered approach. Take initiative. Know where you want to go. Be honest to yourself about not knowing. Get it out of your system.
Michael D.:
  • Much easier to teach PhDs about management than management people learning how to do science!
What to do when you already know what you want?
 
Angela:
  • Started by writing for the student magazine at Berkeley. Went to a bio-hacking talk and was intrigued by it. Moved to Boston and acquired teaching experience at Harvard, then found out about space open to do science at Somerville. Science classes open to all backgrounds (a lot of them are engineers interested in learning biotechnology!)
  • Events during the weekends and a forum this Monday 9/26/16 at LabCentral.
  • She is also a visiting scientist at the Broad Institute.
  • In the future she wants to do the community lab (BosLabs) full-time.
Nina:
  • She thinks the biggest problems in the world can be addressed by science. Knew she wanted to be a geneticist when she was 13 (wanted to feed the world).
  • Incredible compulsion to solve problems. 
  • When in Harvard she realized that many labs had a surplus of or were wasting equipment that could be used further, so she started Seeding Labs 5 years even before she officially started Seeding Labs.
  • Got funding for Seeding Labs even before she started writing her thesis.
  • Started doing networking events and met people that helped her learn about finances and management.
  • She had to learn about 7 different languages she would not have learned when in academia to run the labs.
Michael M.:
  • You will never be prepared for the next step! You make it as you go along.
 
 
 
 

[Job Listings] Associate Project Manager opening at Bracket Global

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[Job Listings] Associate Project Manager opening at Bracket Global

Check out this job posting from our friends at Bracket (formerly Clintara). Great for people who love project management and data analysis!

Position Overview:

Responsible for development and management of projects at assigned pharmaceutical clients.  The projects will include clinical data quality services (e.g. Rater training, subject eligibility, ratings quality assurance, endpoint reliability, scale management, etc.) for said pharmaceutical clients. 
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
Project Management (50%)
·       Manage all phases of each assigned project, including budget, invoicing, staffing, project plan and client deliverables
·       Manage multiple projects concurrently, maintaining project schedule and quality deliverables in a dynamic environment
·       Coordinate with other Client Services personnel as well as Professional Services and Technical Delivery resources to ensure the timely and quality preparation of project deliverables based on assigned scope-of-services
·       Oversee development and approval of study materials
·       Manage team of Project Specialists and/or Project Assistants to facilitate project tasks
·       Ensure all project deliverables are of high quality and exceed client’s expectations in compliance with Quality Management governance procedures
·       Oversee study management and coordinate study status with project sponsors
·       Manage resources and tasks to ensure all logistics, materials and technologies necessary as defined by scope-of-services
·       Coordinate with project sponsors to ensure all project expectations are met
Data/Site Management (30%)
·       Manage identification and resolution of clinical trial data inquiries/data changes and communication to internal and external multi-function resources within project teams
·       Manage communications with client (e.g. pharmaceutical sponsor, CRO) and site personnel regarding site/study details
·       Facilitate data review meetings with clinical trial study team leaders
·       Own in-study/maintenance transactional project activities throughout entire project lifecycle, e.g.  project variable fees, inter-department workflow assignment, issue escalation
·       Set up master systems, additional study hardware, study site folders, and data folders for clinical trial execution
·       Design and configure unique project systems and manage data for each assigned project, utilizing proprietary IT applications (e.g. RDA, IR2, CDR PRISM, etc.)
·       Produce data reports (e.g., weekly, interim, final, etc.) for submission to pharmaceutical clients
·       Attend and deliver presentations at both site and client facing meetings
Account Management (10%)
·       Communicate new opportunities, as identified, at existing clients for Bracket  encompassing Change Orders and new projects
·       Facilitate new  Change Order creation and socialization for assigned projects in cooperation with Business Development Operations
·       Manage relationships within assigned client accounts including routine written, telephone and face-to-face communication
·       Provide account updates to Bracket account management teams
Administration (10%)
·       Provide ongoing career development, mentoring and performance feedback for supervised Project Specialists and/or Project Assistants
·       Track monthly and quarterly metrics (variable fee budgetary items) and provide to Project Manager for invoicing
·       Enhance the Bracket business model by institutionalizing business processes, implementing best practices and templates, and seeking ways to work more efficiently
·       Contribute to the development, enhancement and testing for enterprise IT applications
·       Coach, counsel and provide mentoring and guidance for direct reports
Experience
·        Three to five years of professional experience
·       One to two years of project management experience
Skills & Competencies
Required
·        Experience with managing work plans, project budgets, invoicing, resource allocation and deliverable management
·        College degree (B.S., B.A.)/University Degree for EU candidates required
·         Demonstrated analytical, organizational, creative problem solving and structured communication skills
·         Strong client and vendor relationship skills
·         Demonstrated experience in career development and team management
·         Ability to travel for business
·         Ability to work nights or weekends as required
·         Demonstrated proficiency with computers, especially Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Access)
·         Fluency in English (will be required to write, speak and understand English to conduct day-to day business)
·         Ability to manage own time proactively identify prioritized tasks
·         Entrepreneurial spirit, drive and work ethic
·         Focus on attention to detail
Preferred
·         Professional experience within the pharmaceutical industry.  Training and/or education background valued.
We offer a fully comprehensive benefits program with medical, dental, vision, company paid life insurance, short and long term disability.  Great Paid Time Off program that starts with 20 days of accrual per calendar year; great 401k plan with company match that is 100% vested immediately!  Paid parental leave and other competitive benefit programs.  Great salary and reward and recognition programs. 
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