Begin career preparation early in your biomedical training. Transitioning from graduate school to career success can be a long and exciting road. The sooner you start career preparation the easier and less stressful the transition will be.

As a Ph.D. student or postdoctoral scientist, you have to focus on your research while also planning for your future career. Many of you are lucky enough to have career centers at your institution that help you prepare. Never underestimate the value these services offer. Only 25% of jobs available to Ph.D. graduates in biomedical sciences are faculty positions. Prepare yourself and learn about all the possibilities.

For those of you who are trying to navigate the career decision field at an institution without a career center, just remember, you don’t have to go at it alone. There are numerous online resources available. You could be a pioneer at your institution and start a grassroots movement; these are becoming more common as graduate students and postdocs realize the value of career exploration.

“Programs like BEST offer students and postdocs additional insight into other viable career options and help them to identify and cultivate transferable skills, the significance of which is often overlooked.  It also turns the abstract “someday” into something real. It forces busy scientists to take the amorphous “future plans” off of the back burner (in a lab environment where it is often difficult to plan beyond the next experiment, committee meeting, or grant deadline) and thrusts it into the forefront.”

-Lauren Tanabe, Ph.D., recent Postdoctoral Fellow at Wayne State University

Not convinced of the value of career exploration.

Read more of Lauren Tanabe’s thoughts regarding BEST on the Wayne State blog and read even more BEST testimonials from various BEST trainees across the U.S.

Connect with Lauren and other students and postdocs in the LinkedIn BEST Trainee Network.

Convinced now? Great!

Read on to continue your journey!

Biomedical training is rewarding, but it can be a long road to success. Embarking on graduate school and potentially pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship is part of a broader plan for success in future careers.

Traditionally, Ph.D. and postdoctoral scientists focus on

  • Perfecting the application of the scientific method
  • Securing federal and private grant funding
  • Communicating and networking with other scientists
  • Developing proficiency in discipline-dependent technical skills

Mentors have historically taught graduate students and postdocs these very important skills. However, a scientist must ask “What other skills might I need in the future, and what are all my career options?” BEST consortium institutions are learning that PIs are largely supportive of their trainees asking these question and taking time out of the lab to find the answers. They want you to succeed, but often feel ill-equipped to offer advice about careers outside of academia. Therefore, it is up to you to determine your interests and your goals.

There are a variety of way you can prepare yourself

  • Create an individual development plan (IDP)
  • Plan your career during training
  • Build professional relationships
  • Explore careers
  • Prepare for the job interview

Create an Individual Development Plan

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) serve as a tool to set realistic goals for career and professional development that sometimes incorporate assessment and evaluation of career interests and skills. Evaluation of self is an important component of career exploration and planning. Make your own plan at myIDP at Science Careers.

Learn more about IDPs and optimizing your career preparation in the recorded webinar from BEST and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). View the slides here.

Plan Your Career During Training

Don’t wait until your program or fellowship is ending to plan for your career. Kim Petrie, Ph.D. and Ashley Brady, Ph.D. from Vanderbilt’s BEST program wrote an entire book chapter on how to weave career preparations into your training. Check out Chapter Three of the Advancing Postdoc Women Guidebook, and don’t worry if you’re neither a woman nor a postdoc. You will be grateful for the advice.

Build Professional Relationships

Professional relationships can greatly aid in growing your career. Informational interviews help you make career decisions and determine the pathways to attaining you goals. Plus, you contacts will likely assist you when you are on the job market. Check out the recorded webinar by BEST and ASBMB to learn how to build your network and effectively communicate with your contacts. View the slides here.

Prepare for the Job Interview

After all the hard work you have put into career planning, it is now time to prepare for the interview.

Here is an article that was written by some of the BEST; it will help you prepare for that dreaded video interview.

Smile, You’re on Camera