Beyond the Bench: Taking Your Career to the Next Level

Oct14-CoverStory_640x360You can read my latest career insights article “Beyond the Bench: Taking Your Career to the Next Level” in the October 2014 issue of Lab Manager Magazine. The article features practical advice from three ambitious science professionals on how to keep your career moving forward and upward. A special thanks to Dr. Bridget Fisher of Seattle Biomed, Rose Mary Casados of Cola Resources, Inc. and Dr. Jim Rancourt of Polymer Solutions for taking the time to share their knowledge with scientists who may be ready to advance their careers to the next level. An excerpt from the article is featured below:

“Managing a lab requires dedication and self-sacrifice to keep operations running smoothly and to support the work of everyone around you. Too often these valuable qualities are the very things that hold lab professionals back from focusing on their own career development.

As daunting as it may seem, you deserve to take time to reflect on whether your career is headed in the right direction and then map out the best way to get where you want to go.

In this article, you will meet three highly talented and ambitious scientists who have advanced beyond the bench to satisfying careers in research, business development, and entrepreneurship. Each professional provides practical advice on ways to gain the skills and education necessary to make an upward career transition, all while still working at the bench to support yourself financially.

Although they are on divergent career tracks, these individuals share a common drive to pave their own roads to success.”

[Read the full article in the October 2014 issue of Lab Manager Magazine.]

Career Insights: Quick guide to career fairs

Image credit: City of Marietta

Image credit: City of Marietta

My recent career insights article for ASBMB Today, the membership magazine of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is now available online. Check out “Quick guide to career fairs” to learn how to make the most of in-person and virtual career fairs, featuring advice on how to find career fairs and a prep guide.

“You may be hesitant to attend a career fair if you are not formally in the job market, but I would encourage you to reconsider the value of these events for your personal career development. A career fair is an interactive way to assess the job market and build connections with future employers.” [Read the full article in ASBMB Today]

It May Pay to Track STEM Job Market Trends

Image credit: AGI (2014)

Image credit: AGI (2014)

Lately, a massive debate has been ongoing on the issue of whether there is a shortage of science and engineering graduates prepared for the labor market or if this is a complete myth. Overall, it looks like it depends on how you count your numbers to form a conclusion on the topic. One thing that does seem clear is that the number of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related jobs fluctuate with market demands, thus the need for skilled for workers in specific fields can change over time.

One current example may be the geosciences field based on a recent report from the American Geosciences Institute that concludes there are more geoscience job opportunities than students, especially students who have the quantitative skills that employers are seeking. Major energy challenges facing the global community may drive an increased need for geoscientists in the near future who are trained to locate ideal sites for tapping into energy reservoirs (e.g., hydraulic fracturing).

“Jobs requiring training in the geosciences continue to be lucrative and in-demand, according to a new report. Even with increased enrollment and graduation from geoscience programs, the data still project a shortage of around 135,000 geoscientists needed in the workforce by the end of the decade.” —AGI, 2014

This example demonstrates that it is important for students and STEM professionals to stay on top of the science and technology sectors that are hiring and to remain flexible in career goals. If you are thinking about a college major or a career change, it may pay to keep up with job market demands. Below are a few ideas on how you can track the current labor market trends.

1. The National Science Foundation publishes an annual Science & Engineering (S&E) indicators report on the status of STEM education in the U.S. You can find data on the number of degrees awarded by field and employer statistics.

2. The Occupational Outlook Handbook maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a wealth of job forecast information from degree requirements, projected trends in job outlooks and information on related fields.

3. The O*NET Resource Center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor is an interactive application to explore a comprehensive collection of career paths, including job outlook information by state and salary. Increasing wages in a field can be a good indicator of positions that are in demand.

4. By scanning job boards and talking to employers at events such as career fairs, you can get a good sense of what fields are hiring and what might be the expected employment needs in the future.

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Source: American Geosciences Institute. “More geoscience job opportunities than students.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2014. .