Rique Campa came as our Mug Club guest this last week (November 20, 2015). He spoke to us about the need to identify our career options and target our professional development towards the career of our choice. Here are some of the tips he shared along with the associated resources.
Know your Options
Are you aware of the different types of Higher Education Institutions in the United States? Rique reminded us that we have a broad range of options within the realm of academia, and it is important to educate ourselves on the characteristics and values of each to make informed decisions regarding which is best suited to our interests. As mentioned in a previous post (see “Chance Favors the Prepared Mind”), the best place to start is identifying your personal passion areas and then look for career options that are a natural fit for you.
Prepare for success
The characteristics of these different institutions will of course impact what they value in job candidates. This means once we identify which type of institute we would like to pursue, we must then target our personal professional development towards the specific skills of highest value to the people we are looking to hire us. Of course there is also the backwards approach. If you are not sure what type of Institution is right for you, start looking at the desired skills in job ads posted by various types of institutions and see which ones best match your passion areas. With so many opportunities out there, we must always be asking ourselves: “What skills will better equip me to do what I love most?” If we focus our time on becoming the most qualified to do what we are most passionate about, when the right opportunity comes along we will be ready.
Learning by Teaching
Even if you do not plan on pursuing a career that involves a lot of teaching, it is a great way to hone many desirable skills as well as deepen your own knowledge. MSU has a lot of opportunities to develop teaching skills, and Rique shared two opportunities, the FAST fellow program for graduate students and the brand new PEAT program for post docs, which are designed to provide training in the scholarship of teaching and learning through research-based teaching projects. To find out more about these programs, check them out on the “Teaching” page under “The Resources,” or click on the links provided at the end of this post.
Communication & Science Translation
No matter what your passion or career choice, a recurring theme for us at The Pub Club that was echoed by Rique is the need for strong communication skills. As with most things, the best way to hone this skill is practice! Rique’s advice was to look for and take advantage of opportunities to share our research in different venues, such as local meetings (see link below for Annual Graduate Academic Conference), newspapers and even by talking with our local and state representatives. One thing Rique has his graduate students do is write up part of their research as a “popular piece,” such as a magazine article. Not only is this great practice at science translation, it also provides us with a much larger audience for all our hard work at the bench!
click on the Resource name for more information.
Types of Higher Education Institutions in the United States – Classifications of US institutions by the Carnegie Foundation
Outreach Training Needed – Science editorial by Alan I. Leshner
Future Academic Scholars in Teaching (FAST) Fellowship Program – MSU Graduate School program led by Rique Campa
Postdoctoral Education Award in Teaching (PEAT) Fellowship Program – MSU program led by Dr. Tony Nunez
An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching – Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on evidence-based teaching
Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning – The CIRTL mission is to enhance excellence in undergraduate education through the development of a national faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse learners as part of successful and varied professional careers.
Graduate Academic Conference – annual event hosted by the MSU Council of Graduate Students