Choosing the Job Offer That is Right for You

 In jobs: preparation and placement, PhD/Postdoc Blog


Zakiya Qualls: Decision Time

I can’t believe our blog series is coming to an end. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed detailing my journey with you all over the past six months, and I hope that I have presented something useful or at least remotely interesting for my fellow graduate and post-doctoral trainees on similar transitional journeys.   I can honestly say that these past months have been some of the most hectic in my life. Writing my dissertation, blogging, and publishing a journal article, while balancing lab experiments, job applications, job-specific writing test, and motherhood has all been challenging, but in the end, certainly worth it! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and find comfort when talking to other graduate students who assure me that I am not alone.


So here we are. We have carefully molded our graduate journeys by exposing ourselves to new career paths, courses, and training. We have become experts in our fields, presented our research, and greatly improved our communication skills. We have submitted papers, job applications, and successfully endured several nerve wrecking interviews. Finally, with a sigh of relief, all of our hard work is being rewarded in the form of peer-reviewed publications and our ultimate goal, job offers! However, now isn’t the time to relax. We still have the most important decision of them all to make. Determining which job to actually take is important and has to be carefully considered in order to make sure all of the hard work you’ve put in ends up being worth it.


Here is some advice I’ve been given over the last few months to help prepare for the big decision.


  • There’s more to a job than salary. Determine your priorities. If you have been following my blog series, then you are aware that I always consider the holistic approach to any given situation. This means that I try to not only consider what is presented directly to me, but I also try to see the big and little pictures of how my decision will impact every aspect of my life. Salary is one thing, but if your dream job is a bit underwhelming in the pay department, consider the total benefits package which will likely include health insurance, vacation, retirement, and life insurance. Often times when you compare all of these together you realize that there isn’t as big of a difference as you thought between the offers. For those who live in a suburb and will commute into the city in another state to work (common for New Jersey or Maryland/Virginia residents), one piece of advice that I was given was to check your tax obligations beforehand as this can be an unforeseen complication. Additionally, it is important to take into consideration the work-life balance you want to live. Some people won’t mind a long commute while for others it may impede on the time they have to handle other responsibilities. One priority I looked for was a flexible schedule with the ability to work from home if necessary. This is great for me, while it might sound like a nightmare to you. That is okay. There are plenty of options for the skilled worker in demand. Choose what is best for you.
  • Ask yourself about the potential for growth in a particular role. This may seem self-explanatory, but people overlooked it often. Where do you see yourself in the next few years? Does the company promote from within? Did you meet anyone who was promoted from within the company during your interviews? What is the attrition rate? Do your goals align with the potential of the position? In some cases, it may be beneficial to take a job just to get into the door depending on the field, but you should always approach these situations with a plan beforehand.
  • Consider the workplace. When you go in for interviews, carefully look around the workspace to get an idea of the company culture. Are people smiling or does everyone look miserable? Do you like the office environment and surroundings? Some of the companies I interviewed with had the coolest office decor, that just made me want to come in on that very day and start working.  Working in an environment you enjoy will make your days much better and most likely boost your performance.
  • Don’t be persuaded by others. You know exactly what you are looking for. It’s easy to lose sight of your end goals and what you want by talking to others who might make you feel pressured to choose a particular position. However, I think it is important to always follow your instincts, your plan, and your dreams!


Thank you for taking the time to read this series and for reaching out to me over the past months. Please continue to do so via LinkedIn as I always enjoy sharing stories and discussing challenges. I wish everyone good luck (based on self-reliance) and hope that your transition journey goes smoothly and is every bit as rewarding as you initially hoped it would be. Wish me luck as I begin a new journey as a medical writer upon graduation! Thank you, NIH BEST for this opportunity.

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