Accountability-Find yourself a Job Buddy
Alright, my dear readers, this is my last blog for NIH BEST. I hopefully have given you helpful tips on pursuing a career you will enjoy. For my parting blog, I figured I would tie it all together and give you advice on how to get all this done.
I have given you ideas for networking, informational interviews, useful job sites, along with other job searching tidbits. But knowing all the right things and doing them are two different things. For this article I want to give you a useful tool for successfully implementing the suggestions from NIH BEST and elsewhere. The question really is not do we know what to do, but do we actually do it. Here, I will make the analogy to working out. People are much more likely to work out if they have a Gym Buddy. Therefore, I am proposing that we find ourselves a Job Buddy. The quagmire of applications, job postings, and informational interviews is very much like working out. Sometimes it is fun, but most of the time it is work. It takes time out of other things you might want or need to do (e.g. graduate). It can be boring and stressful and disappointing as well as exciting, just like exercise.
All of these attributes mean that it is easier to do when it becomes a shared experience. Just like running that extra mile is much easier when you have got a friend cheering you on, or doing that extra weight is hard to avoid when you have got a friend that will tease you for lifting the five-pound weights when they know you can lift the twenty-five pounds. Having a job buddy makes finishing up that last application or sending that intimidating informational interview request easier. Peer pressure works and having a support system helps you rebound from disappointment faster. Just like when you do not want to work out, but you have a friend who is already waiting for you at the gym. It adds a level of accountability that is hard to engineer without someone else.
If you have a scheduled ‘job time’ with your job buddy, you are more likely to show up and apply to jobs, consistently. Make it weekly, or biweekly, just make it recur. Your job buddy and you can console each other when you get the inevitable rejection emails and celebrate when you get coveted interviews. Another advantage of having a job buddy is you can share job postings with each other. Four eyes are better than two when it comes to looking at potential employers. You also have a built-in sounding board for writing those tricky emails.
Hopefully, I have convinced you about the wonders of having a job buddy. How might you go about finding a one? There are a bunch of places we can look. First, try your friend group. You probably have a few friends who are looking for jobs around the same time, especially if you are in graduate school. This is where I found my job buddy. He has kept me accountable and consistent, and made me feel better about all the existential crises I have had. If you are in the post-doctoral track or do not have any friends currently slogging through the job market, talk to your career center. They will probably have leads on other Ph.D.’s that are also searching for jobs and can put you in contact. If they do not have any other Ph.D.’s looking for jobs, they might know of some workshops you can go to or maybe even a support group. Talking about support groups, another surprising place to look might be the university counselling center. Our counseling center has a ton of support groups, one of which is a dissertation support group. While this is not directly related to the job search, writing a dissertation leads to many of the same stresses and people in said group are probably looking for jobs. You might even be able to start a job application meetup through either the career or counseling centers.
So, dear reader let us go out and find a Job Buddy. Then let us use all that we know to find ourselves a career!
Current Position: 6th year Ph.D. Candidate, Materials Science and Engineering
Program Start Date: August 2012
Institution: Johns Hopkins University
If you’ve found this helpful, please share it with another soon to be gainfully employed friend and watch @NIHBEST on Twitter for more from my lovely colleagues and me.