Hello there bloggies! Welcome to Trainee Tuesday!
During your PhD or fellowship, you are working your butt off on your various research projects. It is easy to forget that the point of your PhD/fellowship is not just to do research. This is your training period. It is a time to develop skills, expand your repertoire, and make yourself as attractive a future job candidate as possible.
One way to do this is to diversify your CV/resume as much as possible. Diversification not only can help you land that job once you’ve finished your training but can help you decide which sort of career path you’d like to follow. Here are some ways to add some diversity to your resume:
Become active with a professional society
There are so many professional societies out there of varying sizes and for all different types of fields. Each offers different opportunities for its members to get involved. Whether its planning events at annual meetings or for local chapters, writing a guest blog for its website, or even just participating in different initiatives, professional societies provide a fantastic venue to try new things and make new connections. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a career development committee in a professional society where I’ve been able to organize loads of events and meet great colleagues. It has been a truly worthwhile experience.
Contribute to university/institute publications or websites
Each university or institute has webpages, newspapers, magazines, blogs, and even journals that present interesting research findings or other science-related tidbits to its readers. Some of them love to have a researchers directly contribute. This even includes undergraduate student run newspapers! One of my classmates during my PhD used to write a weekly guest column for the Science & Technology sextion of the campus newspaper. I wish I had thought of that! It was great experience for her, and now she works in science communication.
Plan your own events and initiatives
At your institution, you are not the only grad student, postdoc, or fellow! You are part of a community that is experiencing similar situations as you train and begin to navigate your career. Is there an issue you are passionate about? Something that is lacking in your department or institution? Then, do something about it! Work with your institution and other student groups to organize an event or to address it. During my PhD training, several of my classmates were interested in “alternate” careers and organized a science careers day for all of the biomedical departments. They hosted several career panels and had a mini-career fair for nearby companies. You aren’t helpless! Make something happen. My classmates certainly did.
Gain new technical skills from your labmates and lab neighbors
Keeping in mind that you are part of a diverse community of really talented scientists, use your training period to soak up as much knowledge as you can. Talk to your labmates, colleagues, and lab neighbors about their techniques. What are the advantages of them? The pitfalls? What are some of the hidden tricks to get them to work? Maybe they’ll even take the time to do a quick demonstration or training session with you. Being able to perform lots of different sorts of lab techniques or even just being able to talk about them intelligently will earn you many points on job interviews or during networking events.
Take outside courses both in person and online
But, we can’t just rely on the skills and kindness of our friends and colleagues. Sometimes we need more formal training to gain new and complex skills. There are loads of workshops held throughout the world (e.g., Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory and Woods Hole) just for this reason. Don’t have the time to travel? No worries, there are online resources to help you out.
Write, talk, write, talk, and write some more
No matter what your career is after your training, there are two things you will certainly need to do: talk to others and write effectively. Although it can be scary and difficult at first, take advantage of all the constructive folks around you. Give talks to your department and at conferences. Write papers. Write grants. The best practice is actually presenting and writing. It is the only way to get better and make them strengths of yours.
A diverse resume with loads of different experiences make for a competitive resume/CV that employers and search committees want to take a closer look at. It shows ambition, work ethic, and the ability to adapt to different situations. Try new things as a trainee! You never know where that new experience will lead you.
Thank you for stopping by Trainee Tuesday! What other ways do you try to add different experiences to your training? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @DrFsThoughts.
See you all later!