Spring 2019: Careers blog and annual meeting recap

4/19/2019 1:59:39 PM

I’m back to it after finishing three jam-packed days of speed mentoring sessions at the ASBMB annual meeting in Orlando earlier this month. What a brain rush! I met with so many amazingly talented scientists who are interested in divergent career paths (e.g., industry R&D, science communications, consulting) and looking for some pointers on how to get there. Since then, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the career advice shared during these sessions. While everyone had different needs, there were some common themes that emerged. Here is a summary of some of that advice, along with a careers blog recap to help you catch up on the latest posts.  

1. Seek out a team of mentors. One person cannot possibly fill all your mentoring needs. And, as many of the people I met with pointed out, their primary academic adviser could not adequately address their career-mentoring needs because of a lack of experience outside the academic environment (or an inability to imagine that anyone would even want to have a nonacademic career). In fact, many who met with me just wanted to talk to someone outside academia to get a different perspective. Bottom line: Find people who can complement your various career interests and who are supportive of your goals.  

2. Add informational interviews to your career-development toolbox. Informational interviews can help you explore career paths, build your professional network and identify potential mentors. This involves having an informal conversation with a professional working in a career of interest to you to find out what they do and what path they took to get there. There are some great tips on how to conduct an informational interview in this careers blog post and video tutorial. Several people were intimidated by the idea of reaching out to people they don’t know. My advice is to start by interviewing your current contacts and/or asking if they are willing to connect you with others. From there, you can continue to ask for recommendations of people to talk to. Trust that most people are going to be positive and are going to want to help out by sharing their career stories.   

3. Develop an individual development plan. Many people were in career-exploration mode. It was great to see so many people thinking through career options early on and taking steps to determine exactly where they want to end up in the science world. An individual development plan can really help solidify your career goals by assessing your interests, skills and values for a future career and developing a plan to reach these goals. You also can use an IDP to guide discussions with your adviser to communicate your career goals. There are a number of online tools (e.g., myIDP) and other downloadable templates to guide you through the process.  

4. Find a curriculum vitae or résumé style that works for you. There was some confusion on the difference between a CV and a résumé. For an example of what a classical CV looks like, check out Karen Kelsky’s rules for an academic CV. If you’re not applying for an academic job, then, in most cases, a résumé or some type of hybrid is going to work best. To find a style that works for you, ask colleagues if you can look at theirs or check out samples online. A few websites with lots of sample CVs and résumés include the UCSF Office of Career and Professional Development and University of Illinois Graduate College Career Development Office. Also, be sure to take advantage of career services centers on your campus for résumé reviews. (Note: I’ll return to résumé prep tips in a later post.)  

5. Stay focused on your career goals. I have to admit that I was dismayed by the elitism and just inadequate career advice that still persists in science and academia. I met with people who were worried because they didn’t have the “right” discipline listed on their advanced degree or that they may have to take a gap year while re-applying to graduate programs (which partly inspired the recent careers blog post on post-bachelor’s research jobs). You can’t listen to naysayers. Stay focused on the career paths that will give you the most professional satisfaction and give yourself time to get there. Have an exit strategy in place so you can focus on these career goals during any transition periods. And, importantly, when looking for jobs, find organizations with a culture that values you as an individual and your future contributions.    

Careers blog recap  

January 2019

February 2019

March 2019

Past blog recaps  

2018: the year in review (October–December 2018 and top posts from 2018)

Fall 2018: Career resources and blog recap (July–September 2018)

Playing summer catch-up (April–June 2018)

Recap and random advice (January–March 2018)

Rock your year-end science accomplishments (top posts from 2017)

Careers blog recap and annual meeting reminders (September–November 2017)

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.   

Stay updated on new posts by following the ASBMB on social media or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the ASBMB Job Board for even more job listings    

Postbachelor’s research jobs

4/15/2019 11:34:30 AM

My heart goes out to all the undergraduates (and other college grads) who are grappling with what to do next after getting turned down from graduate school or other training programs. Rejection can be so hard. But, let me emphasize, this is not the end of your science career. As this recent Twitter thread shared by Científico Latino points out, there are so many successful career scientists who didn’t get into Ph.D. programs the first time they applied.  

Also, know that you have lots of options available to help you figure out the next step in your professional life, whether that be re-applying to grad school or pursuing other science-career paths. One of these options is to join a postbac research program. These are one- or two-year research positions designed for recent college graduates to get more laboratory experience in advance of applying to graduate programs. These may be formal programs or individual research labs looking to take on a research/lab technician.  

We also previously highlighted a wide range of post-bachelor’s research and training programs here on the careers blog. Definitely check out this post for a comprehensive listing of resources on how to find related postbaccalaureate opportunities. For this week, we bring you a roundup of open postbachelor’s research jobs to help you explore this specific option further.  

Weekly jobs roundup  

  • New England Biolabs (Ipswich, Mass.) runs an industry postbaccalaureate fellowship program intended to provide recent college graduates with advanced training before applying to graduate school. Currently, there are three open research positions in the areas of protein purification development, molecular enzymology and RNA biology. Applicants must have received a bachelor’s degree within the last three years. See the postings for more details. (H/t to ASBMB member Lana Saleh, who alerted us to this opportunity and is the hiring manager for the first two positions listed. You can reach her by email with any questions.)  
  • The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (Frederick, Md.) has an opening for a postbaccalaureate fellow within its AIDS and Cancer Virus Program. Applicants to the postbac program must have received their bachelor’s degree within the past three years or a master’s degree within the past six months. See the website for more details. No application deadline is provided.  
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, N.M.) has opportunities for postbac researchers to join the chemistry division. Research is across broad areas that are applicable to the lab’s mission in “solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health and global-security concerns.” The program is intended for recent graduates to gain work/research experience while preparing to apply to graduate school. Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or chemical engineering in the last three years.  
  • The lab of Jeremy L. Davis in the Surgical Oncology Program within the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, Md.) is hiring for a two-year postbaccalaureate fellow position. The laboratory’s research focuses on gastric cancer initiation and metastasis. See the posting for instructions on how to apply. No application deadline is provided.  
  • According to a recent job posting on Indeed, the laboratory of Theresa T. Lu at the Hospital for Special Surgery Research Institute/Weill Cornell Medical School has an opening for a postbaccalaureate researcher. The project will focus on the role of immune cells in regulating skin, lymph nodes and the musculoskeletal system in the context of autoimmune diseases. Contact information for the Lu Lab is located on the HSS Research Institute website.  
  • Gabriel Rocklin, assistant professor of pharmacology at Northwestern University, recently posted on Twitter that his newly established lab is searching for researchers at all levels (students, postdocs and postbacs). The Rocklin lab works on high-throughput protein design and biophysics. Check out the lab website for more information.  
  • C. Savio Chan, assistant professor of physiology at Northwestern University, also recently posted on Twitter that his lab is seeking a lab technician/manager. The Chan lab studies cell and circuit elements involved in basal ganglia function and dysfunction to inform development of treatments for neurological disorders. Individuals who are interested in gaining research experience before applying to grad school are encouraged to apply. See the lab website for more details.  

Related posts

The postbachelor’s life
Exploration into the depths of space-sciences research
Finding a job at a national lab
Shooting for a career in cancer research

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.   

Stay updated on new posts by following the ASBMB on social media or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the ASBMB Job Board for even more job listings    

Advance your career at the ASBMB annual meeting

4/2/2019 3:41:51 PM

In a few short days, the great pilgrimage of scientists to the ASBMB annual meeting and Experimental Biology 2019 begins. We will descend upon Orlando sporting our best flip-flops, lugging poster batons of science victory and touting conference badges of honor. Our minds are ready to be challenged. And, while overindulging in science is certainly on the agenda, be sure to also treat yourself to the many career resources and programming being made available. Here are some quick tips for making the most of the conference to advance your science career. Safe travels!   


  • Career Central at Experimental Biology can help you polish your professional skills and take your career to the next level. Activities include micro-learning hub talks, career-development workshops, an onsite job board and one-on-one career mentoring sessions. These recent ASBMB Today articles on career central and micro-learning hubs overview the schedule of events in more detail.  

    Note: I will present a two-part series on how to develop a comprehensive job-search strategy at 3:30 p.m. April 8 and at 9 a.m. April 9.  

  • As mentioned, EB Career Central features one-on-one career mentoring sessions free to all conference attendees. These 20-minute sessions are offered on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Meet with science professionals for C.V./résumé critiques, mock job interviews, poster/presentation prep or just general career advice. You must sign up for an appointment online by 5 p.m. the day before. There are plenty of spots left.  

    Note: ASBMB members who are mentoring include Yass Kobayashi (associate professor, Fort Hays State University), Gauri Shishodia (postdoctoral fellow, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center) and myself.  

  • Schedule time to stop by the Exhibit Hall. There will be more than 200 exhibitors. You can find out info about graduate and training programs, the latest and greatest science products on the market and scientific publishing trends. (And, of course, stock up on all the lab pens and sticky notes you will ever need.)  

    Note: Be sure to visit the ASBMB booth (#1421) to say hello and learn more about upcoming professional-development activities, such as the IMAGE grant-writing workshop (applications due April 19).  

  • Don’t miss out on any activities happening at the meeting. Download the Experimental Biology mobile app to plan your agenda ahead of time. Use the mobile app to help you stay organized, find talks of interest in complementary fields and connect with other attendees.  

    Note: You can browse sessions in the schedule by the “Career Central” track to find all the career-related programming.    

  • Start networking on social media now to find fellow scientists to hang out with, people who may be hiring and want to connect at the meeting, and other side events. You can follow both the @ExpBio and @ASBMB Twitter accounts and use the hashtags #ExpBio and #ASBMB2019 to catch the latest buzz.  

  • Consider pairing up with a peer to attend conference events and help each other out (e.g., ask prepared questions during your poster session.) There also are some good tips on how to survive the Q&A section of your talk in this ASBMB Today article, along with some advice on how to be a respectful audience member.  

    Note: Please encourage your lab mates to review the meeting’s code of conduct and anti-harassment policy to know what behavior is expected and how to report any issues encountered. We want to ensure a safe and open environment for all meeting attendees and take this seriously. Having such a policy goes a long way to protect others from sexual harassment and other unprofessional behavior.  

  • Stay as visible as possible (e.g., tack up business cards next to your poster, complete your profile on the EB mobile app) and be prepared to talk about your career goals. More tips on how to do so can be found in this student conference guide written for the ASBMB Today. (BTW, it’s OK to duck out and take a dip in the pool or some quiet time for yourself to recharge as needed.)  

  • Lastly, just a reminder that the annual meeting is a good place to connect with science professionals across disciplines and career fields (including vendors in the exhibit hall and meeting staff) and explore science careers. It’s also where mentoring moments happen and new opportunities are found. You can review some guidelines on how to conduct an informational interview to help you prepare for talking to others about their career paths.  

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.   

Stay updated on new posts by following the ASBMB on social media or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the ASBMB Job Board for even more job listings