So you’ve obtained, or will a graduate degree in the life sciences, but you know for a certainty that traditional academia is not for you. Do you know what is? If you don’t then this blog is geared towards you.
Many students enter a program with a specific goal in mind, be that a practicing physician, undergraduate professorship, industry investigation, chiropractor, or an academic research faculty position. Through the course of 5+ years of pursuing a graduate education, many come to the realization that those goals have changed, are not for us, or we’ve become convinced we should pursue new paths.
Don’t be afraid to take the ‘harder looking’ or less traveled path, it’s often a better view from these routes. Image: Hyst, on www.deviantart.com
So, what to do now? Just as you’ve followed curricula, procedures, and/or experiments, you need a set plan for forging a new path ahead. Begin to develop that today and then refine it over the course of the next month until you have a defined path and protocol youknow you’ll follow for your future. Performing this exercise will benefit you not only now, but every time in life you decide to pursue something new, alternative, or different.
A plan helps you determine which of the many options you’ll have to pursue.Image: www.carrollcomarketing.com
Here is a simple checklist to follow over the next month for building your plan. Once you’ve completed these seven steps, you’ll have built a plan you can follow to obtaining a new and fulfilling career.
- 1. Envision yourself at your happiest, how does it involve your training? Identify where that ‘sweet spot’ is for you. Carefully consider and determine your passion.
- 2. Put your passion in writing (e.g. I am happiest in my PhD in mentoring designing small molecule therapeutic discovery experiments. My ideas often produce results and I am energized by this work).
- 3. Begin to determine what career outside of academia will allow you to pursue this passion. Some great resources to start are:
- a. www.biocareers.com
- b. http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/tools_tips/outreach/events/2010_06_17
- c. Linked in groups, like:
- i. http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Alternative-PHD-Careers-3404777/about
- d. http://www.nextscientist.com/alternative-careers-for-phd-students/
4. Once you align your passion with one or two career options, begin to tailor your CV, LinkedIn profile, Facebook and Twitter posts, as well as your personal reading lists to align with those career options.
5. Seek help from your career services offering at your academic institution (they often help alumni as well!). They can provide feedback on your CV, share good job lists with you, aid you in writing your cover letter, and even review your application package for a few jobs you find on job lists/sites like BioCareers or LinkedIn.
6. Augment your job search by contacting a recruiter, share with them your background and skills, and passion, see if they have positions they can help you pursue.
7. Begin in earnest the pursuit of your newly settled on career, make it your focus, as you do getting an experiment done, or paper out. Plan to spend 4 hours per day minimum, until your pursuit of your alternative career is a reality.
Once you’ve obtained this position, keep the above checklist and your plan for your life current and active, repeating steps #1-7, so that if you decide on another career path, you’re equipped and ready to pursue it from an active position. Happy Planning!
Putting and keeping an active life-path (career) plan in place aids in overall satisfaction and happiness. Image: news.illinois.edu