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!
52% within academic
48% outside academia
26% for profit
8% federal employment
2% state employment
Graduate students interest in moving into the tenure track declines over time:
41.7% First 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:
– Explore the career paths that are of interest to them
– Written paper on necessary skills
– Perform a self assessment and create action plans for improving identified weaknesses
– 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
– Students obtain experiences in critical components of the job search process including résumé and cover letter writing
– Practice interviewing and job search execution
– Students interact with guest speakers as well as present their finding from each assignment to promote student-driven discussions
55% PhD trainees
32% Master’s students
6% Other (undergraduates, non-degree seekers)
– Safe environment to explore their career options and work through options in a positive way
– Identification of career options
– Student engagement
– Student-driven discussion
– Diversity of disciplines
– Development of work readiness skills
– 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
– Sustained engagement
– Incentives (grade) to participate
– Effective platform for exercises
– Limited reach
– PI resistance
– Reach a larger audience
– Interrupted engagement
– No incentive to participate in exercises
– Non-effective platform for exercises
– 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:
– Alumni network
– Informational interviews
– Work Experience
– 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
– MN Career Pathways
– Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
We were joined by Dan Shea from Fidelity Investments to learn more about budgeting and financial planning!
Financial planning with Fidelity Investments
Topics to be discussed:
- Track your expenses.
- Know what is a discretionary vs essential spending.
- Monitor your spending behavior.
- Tough to save if you don’t know what you’re saving for!!
- Health care
- Cable TV
- If you have credit cards with an 8-9% interest rate it’s bad, so try to pay them as soon as possible.
- Create a budget.
- Avoid getting a high interest now because it compounds – you end up paying more in the future.
- If you have more than one credit card with a high-interest rate, you can consolidate them but then make sure they get paid during the timeline that was determined for it.
- Example: if you have a credit card with a 10% interest rate versus a card with a 15% interest rate then pay the one with the 15% interest rate first!
- Key to your credit report is how long you’ve had your credit cards.
- Doesn’t matter how much you use the credit card, as long as you pay them. Try to pay them off each month.
- Use only 16% of what’s available of your credit. For example: if you have a $10,000 dollar credit you don’t want to have more than $1,600 in balance.
- Too many cards could hurt your credit.
- Monitor your savings!
- “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” – particularly important with investments.
- Good tools:
- In the Fidelity Investments website to keep track of your accounts (free to set up!) – you can buy stocks through that tool.
- Google Wallet
- Some other tools charge $20/month to use.
- Good tools:
- Money for essentials, unplanned emergencies and goals.
- 50% of your take home income should go to essential spending.
- ~50% of take-home pay.
- Save 15% of pre-tax (not take-home) income.
- Lowers your taxable income. The younger you are and the lower your bracket is, the more sense it makes to have a Roth-IRA.
- Save 5% of your income.
- “Because the unexpected happens”.
- Should save 3-6 months of essential expenses!
- Maybe start a separate bank of money account and put in a certain amount every month ($20 or so) after you’ve paid your bad debt and covered your essential expenses.
- Start saving for retirement as soon as possible! Up to 8% pre-tax income every month.
- You don’t want to compromise your retirement savings. Compounding is key!
- 403(b) retirement plan – can you merge your 403(b) from your old institution into a new one like Tufts? Yes (Rollover)!
- If you take out a loan on your retirement plan, you have to pay taxes on it.
- Fidelity Investments is in campus twice a month on campus.
- October is booked, but for after October is cool – financial advice for free!!
- Paying debt in full saves you a lot of interest.
- The benefit of paying your debt:
- The higher your FICO score the lower your APR is.
- Student loans can actually help your score, but whether you’re good at making payments to your loan every month is what influences your standing.
- Good debt: i.e. mortgage
- Bad debt: credit cards
- Housing payment should be no more than 28% of your gross income.
- The City of Boston offers a class on home owning for $25.
- Saving for emergency expenses
- Saving for retirement
- Pay/pay-off high-interest cards
- Pay student loans
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Much easier to teach PhDs about management than management people learning how to do science!
- 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.
- 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.
- You will never be prepared for the next step! You make it as you go along.
Feel free to use this document to guide your way around the USA. Currently this document is curated from experiences that I have had, and will hopefully help you when you come to explore the great United States of America! Given my background, it is more tailored to Australian visitors, but all of the advice is applicable to other nationalities as well.
(From Consumer Finance.gov)
- Pay your bills on time, every time. One way to make sure your payments are on time is to set up automatic payments, or set up electronic reminders. If you’ve missed payments, get current and stay current.
- Don’t get close to your credit limit. Credit scoring models look at how close you are to being “maxed out,” so try to keep your balances low in proportion to your overall credit limit. Experts advise keeping your use of credit at no more than 30 percent of your total credit limit.
Note: You don’t need to revolve on credit cards to get a good score. Paying off the balance each month helps get you the best scores.
- A long credit history will help your score. Credit scores are based on experience over time. The more experience you have with getting credit and paying your bills on time, the more information there is to determine whether you are a good credit risk. Ania’s note: This tends to hurt international scholars the most, as you need a few years of good credit for it to be usable, even if you have a great score.
- Only apply for credit that you need. Credit scores look at your recent credit activity as an indicator of your need for credit. If you apply for a lot of credit over a short period of time, it may appear to lenders that your economic circumstances have changed negatively.