Reflections on the Academic Job Market
By Erin Sparks (Guest Contributor to TheCOM) September 8, 2017
Like many others, I went on the job market for two years before landing in my current position. The first year on the job market I thought I was ready, but wow – I was completely unprepared. One major problem (of several) was that my future research plan lacked a clear vision, and I was not doing a great job of distinguishing myself from others in the field. Another mistake that I made was trying to make my research plan fit into the job ad – this led to me proposing research that I had very little interest in doing and was unexcited about. I strongly advise against this approach! How miserable would it be to do research that you are unexcited about just to get a tenure-track job??? So, I chalk year 1 up to a learning experience.
After this, I got a puppy (seriously), I reassessed, I got feedback from senior faculty at other institutions, and I asked myself what I wanted to do. This soul-searching led to a new and different research plan that I was excited to talk about. I wrote up the new plan and I asked anyone and everyone that was willing to read it and provide feedback. I asked the lab, my advisor, newly hired assistant professors, my friends who do not work in science, my family, etc. I wanted this research statement to communicate my plan to a wide audience and convey a clear message. Here is my first bit of advice: Use your community to get feedback on your research plan! Second, do not get upset if they provide critical feedback; they are working to help you become a better scientist and a better communicator. One resource that was extremely helpful for me is a repository of successful research statements curated by Jeff Ross-Ibarra at UC Davis https://github.com/RILAB/statements. After reading through these statements, I realized … (READ MORE)
Do It Anyway!
By Tiffany Lucas (Guest Contributor to TheCOM) August 21, 2017
Your path isn’t going to be a straight one and you’re not going to be handed a map. I had a highly varied path in my research exposing me to many areas of biology, and I’m comfortable taking a deep dive into the primary literature. I enjoy identifying patterns and connections in science and between people, I am a strong scientific writer, and like presenting ideas to both experts and non-experts. It’s engaging for me to talk with talented scientists, business people, lawyers and patent agents, large industry, academia, and small biotech. Into my postdoc, I worked on developing my grant writing, presenting, and interdisciplinary science skills. I made connections in the biotech community and helped others who needed my expertise in grant writing and due diligence projects. I was very fortunate to be selected for a 6-month full-time position as a Technology Transfer Trainee at Washington University Office of Technology. This was an amazing program developed by Nichole Mercier, PhD, as she recognized the need to transition PhDs out of the lab and into exciting careers. That was a huge turning point for me; I discovered the early-stage biotech community and the passion that the scientists had here. My position as an Investment Analyst with a not-for-profit company, which is focused on supporting and developing early-stage biotech, is perfect for my interests and I’ll continue to grow in skills and abilities.
After leaving my 3.5-year postdoc lab for the technology transfer training program, my former PhD adviser asked skeptically, “Are you ok?” My response was… (READ MORE)
An Inside Scoop on Interviewing to be an Assistant Professor
By Kyaw (Joe) Aung (Guest Contributor to TheCOM) June 13, 2017
Who knew job interviews would be so
If you are a graduate student or post doc, you might dream of becoming a professor at a research university some day. Do you know what it takes to get the job? This year, I was invited to a few research universities for on-site interviews. Although I had some idea about the job interview process, I was pretty much clueless regarding how to prepare. Going into the battlefield on your own is very challenging; so, I started with collecting information on-line and seeking advice from colleagues. Since I found this approach – tapping into my Community of Minds – extremely helpful in preparing, I would like to share my experience applying and interviewing for Assistant Professor positions with the hope that it might help you better prepare for your own interview. (READ MORE)