Postdoc

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

Getting More Out of Tufts’ Libraries with Laura Pavlech

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We were joined by Laura Pavlech, Research and Instruction Librarian at Hirsh Library and liaison to the Sackler School to learn more about library resources available to postdocs!

Library Essentials for Postdocs 

 

Laura Pavlech – Research and Instruction Librarian at Tufts University Hirsh Health Sciences Library


Contact info for the Hirsh Library (at the Boston Campus):
(671) 636-6705
Tufts University Libraries (6 total):

 

  • Hirsh Health Sciences Library (Boston Campus): Floors 4-7 on the Sackler building
  • Tisch Library (Medford Campus)
    • Lilly Music Library
  • Ginn Library (Government and International affairs at The Fletcher School)
  • Webster Family Library at the Vet School (Grafton Campus)
  • Digital Collections and Archives

The librarians can help with:

  • Literature search
  • Finding data and statistics
  • Using citation management programs
  • Developing data management plans (RDMS project, run by TTS – electronic lab notebooks)
  • Answering scholarly communications questions
  • Citation analysis and measuring research impact
All the libraries have their own websites. The Tisch library also has its own chat.
 
 
For upcoming workshops (WebEx-based): tischlibrary.tufts.edu/get-help/workshops
  • “Workshops on Demand”
  • You can also request a workshop for your lab or group at the library
  • Every Tufts postdoc should get a username and password to access their library account
None of their resources require VPN!
To request interlibrary loans (ILLs): https://illiad.library.tufts.edu
  • If not available at the library, there is a charge of $4 for each request
 
Options to search for a journal:
  • hirshlibrary.tufts.edu -> Click on eJournals tab, write down the journal name, and the page will redirect to BrowZine to do the search (browzine.com/libraries)
      • Does not allow you to save PDFs
      • If at home, use BrowZine
  • Jumbo Search
  • Google Scholar
    • You can change your settings at Google Scholar:
      • Library links -> Search for Tufts University -> Check the Tufts University box -> Click on “Save”
  • FindIt@Tufts
    • For articles available within the library, you can request it and they print it out for you.
    • If not available within the library, go to ILLiad to request an interlibrary loan https://illiad.library.tufts.edu
 
Resources to find protocols and methods:
 
Approach to literature search:
  • Visualizing the literature search as a scientific approach.
  • Focused question:
    • “What is it you really want to know about?”
  • Identify key words/concepts
    • What is the topic?
    • What is the info needed?
    • Where can you find this info?
  • Look at the library research guide or ask the librarian
 
Indexing in PubMed:
  • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) – standardized terms
    • Will be located at the bottom of the PubMed search page, once a paper is selected
    • Because it’s people who create the MeSH terms, sometimes it takes a little longer to do the search for a specific combination of words
    • MeSH terms are organized on a hierarchy and can be automatically searched on PubMed
    • Where to find a particular MeSH term?
      • Search for a particular term on the main search box -> Look at the “Search details” box on the right side of the screen (may need to scroll down a bit to find it)
      • Search can be restricted by using sub terms on the MeSH database directly
      • Set up a personalized PubMed account:
        • Saves your searches
        • Break down your search by using 1-2 search term combinations and using “and” (to restrict your search) or “or” (to broaden your search)
          • Words on the search results will be highlighted
        •  Results will also be emailed to you
For writing a systematic review:
  • Request help from a librarian to find the right search databases as well as construct the right search terms
 
Popular workshops:
  • EndNote
  • Systematic Review
  • PubMed

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

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Financial Planning with Fidelity Investments

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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!!
Essential expenses:
  • Mortgage
  • Food
  • Health care
Examples of discretionary expenses:
  • Travel
  • Cable TV
Make paying high-interest credit cards a priority:
  • 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.
How much to use the credit card?
  • 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.
How to create and manage your budget:
  • Money for essentials, unplanned emergencies and goals.
  • 50% of your take home income should go to essential spending.
Essential spending:
  • ~50% of take-home pay.
Essential savings:
  • Save 15% of pre-tax (not take-home) income.
Roth-IRA:
  • Lowers your taxable income. The younger you are and the lower your bracket is, the more sense it makes to have a Roth-IRA.
Short-term savings:
  • Save 5% of your income.
Emergency funds:
  • “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.
Retirement:
  • 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.
Mutual funds versus stocks
 
Investing:
  • Fidelity Investments is in campus twice a month on campus.
    • October is booked, but for after October is cool – financial advice for free!!
**Pay off high debt first!**
  • 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.
Credit score:
  • 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.
Know what you’re spending on and distinguish between good debt versus bad debt.
  • Good debt: i.e. mortgage
  • Bad debt: credit cards
If making $65,000 or less, we can write down the student loan debt for tax breaks?
 
Housing:
  • Housing payment should be no more than 28% of your gross income.
  • The City of Boston offers a class on home owning for $25.
The order on how to use your money:
  1. Saving for emergency expenses
  2. Saving for retirement
  3. Pay/pay-off high-interest cards
  4. Pay student loans
 
 

 

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.