Regardless of which career trajectory you end up taking, being able to communicate ideas clearly to a broad audience is a crucial skill for success. The Tufts Postdoctoral Association has partnered with TuftsNow, the one-stop site for Tufts news, social media, events, videos, photography and more, to offer a science communication (SciComm) internship to dedicated PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers. The internship lasts 1 year (June – May), and interns will work closely with TuftsNow editors to publish 2-3 science- or research-related stories through TuftsNow per semester. This is a great chance to learn the technical details of writing and publishing and build your resume!
This past year’s SciComm Intern was postdoctoral scholar Dr. Erin Lewis, who is currently working in the Nutritional Immunology Lab at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA). Lewis published four different articles with TuftsNow. Her first two articles were based off press releases on Tufts research and translated for the general public on the TuftsNow website. She then moved on to developing stories from her own research and from recently released primary research articles from Tufts scientists. Two of her articles were published in print in Tufts Nutrition, a twice yearly magazine of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the HNRCA. In addition to receiving feedback on her writing, she was trained in topic identification and interview skills and gained valuable insight into how the editorial process works. When asked to reflect on her time working with TuftsNow, Lewis said, “this was a unique opportunity to learn from experienced editors and gain confidence in translating challenging technical science pieces for the lay public.”
Time commitment varies from 4-8 hours per month. Applications are due Monday, May 28th. Please click here to download an application, or email Lauren Crowe at lauren [dot] crowe [at] tufts [dot] edu for more information.
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!
- 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
- “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
- If not available at the library, there is a charge of $4 for each request
- 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”
- You can change your settings at Google Scholar:
- 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
- Henry Stewart Talks – Biomedical and Life Science Collection
- Most of these protocols are for bench science, but there is also a Medicine section
- 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
- 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
- Request help from a librarian to find the right search databases as well as construct the right search terms
- Systematic Review
- 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.
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!
– 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:
– 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
– 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:
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:
– 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
– 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.
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!).