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In the past, the majority of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers were focused on careers in academia. Times have changed, and many are now considering careers outside of academia and are aware of numerous exciting career opportunities in industry and nonprofit and government organizations. However, although it is easy to find resources about academic careers, the same cannot be said for positions outside the ivory tower. Here, on the basis of my experience as a scientist and as someone who works with graduate students and postdocs to help them enter nonacademic career paths, I provide a perspective on career development and how to find a job.
Callier, V., Greenbaum, S., & L. Vanderford, N. (2015). The Traditional Training of PhDs Threatens the Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship Pipeline While Innovative Programs Provide Unique Recovery Opportunities. Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship, 2(1), 51–58. http://doi.org/10.2174/2213809901666141125220729
The flaws in the training of PhDs in life science disciplines are impacting the state of academic biomedical science in the United States (U.S.) as well as the fate of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. In the absence of sweeping changes to the U.S. graduate training model, these circumstances will degrade the pipeline of highly educated scientific innovators and entrepreneurs. To counter this, a wide range of unique programs are emerging with the objective of providing opportunities for PhDs to more easily transition into the job market, where they will be able to sustain and build innovation within the marketplace.
In this article, we describe the current challenges faced by emerging PhDs in the life sciences, address the negative implications of the existing training paradigm, and introduce some of the unique programs that will help PhD trainees be better prepared for the non-academic career paths that they are likely to follow. PhDs from all disciplines are key contributors to the innovations that drive technology transfer and entrepreneurship. As such, graduate programs should serve as the common training grounds for these individuals to gain the subject matter expertise, research experience, and vision needed to develop scientific advancements for the benefit of society.
Traditional scientist training at the PhD level does not prepare students to be competitive in biotechnology or other non-academic science careers. Some universities have developed biotechnology-relevant doctoral programmes, but most have not. Forming a life science career club makes a statement to university administrators that it is time to rework the curriculum to include biotechnology-relevant training. A career club can supplement traditional PhD training by introducing students to available career choices, help them develop a personal network and teach the business skills that they will need to be competitive in science outside of academia. This paper is an instructional guide designed to help students create a science career club at their own university. These suggestions are based on the experience gained in establishing such a club for the Graduate School at the University of Colorado Denver. We describe the activities that can be offered, the job descriptions for the offices required and potential challenges. With determination, a creative spirit, and the guidance of this paper, students should be able to greatly increase awareness of science career options, and begin building the skills necessary to become competitive in non-academic science.
Looking for a job? Not even sure what kind of job you are looking for? Don’t wait until all your experiments are wrapped up and your manuscript is in press. While slaving away doing research, it is easy to lose sight of what comes next. But graduate students and postdoctoral researchers should start planning the next chapter of their careers before the end is in sight. This article highlights different online resources for choosing a career and finding a job.