Postdoc

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.
 
 
 
 

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Speed Networking & Career Panel

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Speed Networking & Career Panel

 
Come and meet a variety of PhDs and Tufts alums that have successful careers in Industry! Ask questions and network with those who have successfully made the transition out of Academia!
 
Tuesday, September 20th
5:30-7:30 PM
Sackler 114
145 Harrison Avenue, Boston MA
 
 
 
 

[Biocareers Seminar] Looking Your Best on Paper: Building a Resume and Cover Letter for Industry

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During this webinar hosted by BioCareers, Lauren Celano, founder of Propel Careers, covered tips on how to build an effective resume for industry. Click through to find out more!




Outline:

– Differences and similarities between resume and CV
– Content Advice
– Formatting Advice
– Resume examples
– What happens to your resume, CV and cover letter after you submit an application

– Differences and similarities between resume and CV

  Be succinct, include big picture summaries of your research
– Want to include a personal email address so that your email doesn’t bounce if you move institutions
– Important to tailor your research for each role as people may not be as familiar with the science



Resumes: Do not include:

– Picture
– Personal Information (DOB, family or relationship status)
– Be careful with hobbies: interesting hobbies are okay if they are inline with company culture (e.g. the whole office goes rock climbing) 

– Academic CVs do not show what you did and what techniques you did…  


 





– A resume provides more details that the reader can take away vs. a CV which does not provide a lot of clarity around what you have done. 
– In a resume, you get to choose to highlight what you choose to share among your experiences and should be really tailored to the position/industry you are applying for.   

What should you highlight?

 It depends on where you are applying!

Think about what you have done and how it can align with a future job!


 

 
10 seconds is the average time a HR person looks at your resume or CV!

How do you format your documents so that your application gets through the initial screening process?



– Number of pages depends on the field, finance etc, may be 1 page

Contact Info:
– Your name with credential (e.g. PhD), have a professional email, if you are international and have US citizenship/green card, PUT THIS ON YOUR RESUME otherwise they may assume you cannot legally work in the US. 

– Summary of Qualifications (vs. Objective – as this may change)
– What are the top 3 things you want people to know about your qualifications? Science skills, leadership, management etc.

Example for industry R&D scientists:

 
* tailored to the job ad! If they use specific abbreviations, you should use them, otherwise spell everything out. 
 
Experience section: 
– Paid Experience
– Undergrad/Postgrad/Postdoc Experience
– One sentence description of your research which includes your PI’s name, as this may be a point of connection. 
 
 


Wording matters – e.g. “Research studies the role of XXY with an emphasis on key proteins such as A and B”. — vs. “Research studies chronic X disease and the role of key proteins in XX environment”.  Make it easier to understand!! 


– Sub headings can be useful!! Different strategies:

 

 


Resume Examples:

– Small company biotech
 Values grants and appreciates entrepreneurial mindset
 Highlight project leads, business-orientated competitions and diagnosis



– Non-bench application:
 Collaborations, not highlighting techniques 


– Business Development Roles:
 Highlights business experience over research experience
 



For bench roles:

– List your experience and what you want  to do. If you don’t want to do animal work etc, don’t list it!


For non-bench roles:
– List other skills, i.e. imaging software, statistical software etc

Education: 



Additional Selections:



Resume formatting:

– Have someone else review your resume, outside your field for several reasons:
   1. Wording is okay and understandable to outsiders
2. Details!!! Formatting is correct: bullet points are aligned, etc 

If using 2 pages, use a full second page. i.e. try not to squish sections, add other sections if you need to overflow. Use all the space you have! 
– Use bullet points and formatting to help focus attention! Rolls of text is hard to read and focus on. 

Writing a cover letter:



Often cover letters get separated from resumes, so make sure you list contact info!
Indicate you have read the job description, so tailor the cover letter! It’s okay to reiterate job requirements from the job ad.
Focus on the items mentioned that you KNOW they want and don’t waste space talking about irrelevant items.

Example:

 



What happens to your job application?
– Not everyone gets both cover letter and resume (or reads them).

1. HR Person – gets both resume and cover letter, reads cover letter
2. Hiring Manager – maybe gets both, reads resume
3. Interviewers – resume, perhaps very late. Don’t usually get the cover letter.

 Thus, its okay to repeat/reiterate what is in the cover letter and ensure you cover the important points of how you fit the job in both!


 

 Question: How often do people looked at LinkedIn?
Answer: ALL THE TIME! If you are on LinkedIn, you want to have a professional photo that makes you look approachable, a good summary of your background and if you can, mention what you are looking for, career wise.

Question: How do you design your resume if you are switching fields where you may not have a lot of existing skills?
Answer: Focus on the transferrable skills!

Question: How long it take from submission to job offer.
Answer: 1.5 – 3 months typically. Once you submit it can take 1 day to 2 weeks to contact you initially (and may contact you up to 6 months later!).