Whether it is a sad or happy thought, it is true that a PhD or MS program has an end. So what does one do after? The number of academic jobs decline each year, and the future state of higher education is very unclear. So what other opportunities are there for newly minted graduates?
This is exactly the question that a new Rutgers program is addressing. iJOBS, Interdisciplinary Job Opportunities for Biomedical Scientists, provides opportunities for current graduate students to network with and learn about relevant industries beyond academia. Implemented with Biomedical Science students, iJOBS is expanding to include students in many other academic fields. It is a multi-year program for students, with phases of participation. In Phase I, students participate in career fairs, workshops on skill development and similar events. Students must accumulate a certain number of participation hours to apply for Phase II which includes more personal training and shadowing opportunities.
Why should you consider it? Because this is an opportunity for you to begin developing skills and contacts that will help you pursue a career beyond a tenure track position, such as science and health policy, business management and data analysis. The workshops alone are worth a look, including resume/cv development, interviewing skills, communicating science to politicians and networking skills.
There are certainly interesting topics for any graduate student, and I encourage everyone to consider participation in the program. Find more information at http://ijobs.rutgers.edu/
August 5-7, 2015, University of Washington, Seattle campus
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is sponsoring a workshop to convene 100 graduate students from diverse domains of science and engineering and data scientists from industry and academia to discuss and collaborate on Big Data / Data Science challenges. Graduate students are invited to apply for participation by submitting by June 22, 2015 a white paper (no more than three pages in length) that describes a Big Data / Data Science challenge faced by their scientific or engineering discipline or an idea for a new tool or method addressing a Big Data / Data Science problem. Travel support is available.
Graduate students and postdocs in NY area: Consider becoming an Academy mentor at Dept. of Youth and Community Development summer camps during July, teaching food and nutrition science. Mentors who complete 24 hours of teaching and training will receive an Academy Mentor Teaching Credential, as well as a $1,000 stipend.
Start planning ahead: From Scientist to CSO: Experiencing the Scientific Method as your Guide to Career Success takes place October 27 – December 5 at the Academy.
Recently I attended the Eagleton Science and Politics Workshop on Public Decision Making in Health, Education, and the Environment, hosted by the Eagleton Institute of Politics. This event was the second Science and Politics workshop hosted by the Eagleton Institute in collaboration with the Rutgers iJOBS program (interdisciplinary Opportunities for Biomedical Scientists). The event brings together basic scientists and professionals in politics, policy and government to discuss opportunities for better communication between scientists and those involved in the political sphere.
At this workshop, we talked about the intersections of science and politics, which are necessary because of an interplay of expertise necessary for policy concerning areas of science or health such as public health, climate change, and sustainability. There was a panel discussion with three professionals from different areas where science and policy intersect: Thomas J. Carew, Ph.D., Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at NYU; Heather Howard, J.D., Director of the State Health Reform Assistance Network; and Upendra Chivukula, Commissioner of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. Each brought their unique perspective and experience to the discussion of how to integrate more scientists into the policy world. Here are some lessons that I took away from the workshop:
- A need for a cultural and structural change in the training of graduate students and postdocs so that they have expertise and experiences outside of academia.
Dr. Carew gave the example of a student who got a very prestigious award from the Society for Neuroscientists for his service in bringing science to the public, and when asked what his PI (principal investigator) thought of this work, the student replied that he hadn’t dared to mention any of it to the PI because it didn’t relate to bench research.
- A need for people who are able to translate science for policymakers accurately and concisely
Ms. Howard gave the example of several senators who have a policy where they don’t read anything that is more than a page.
- The tricky task of balancing priorities between the smaller (but potentially volatile) issues and the bigger picture.
Ms. Howard used the example of Kinder College to illustrate this. This pre-school happened to be built on the site of a former thermometer factory, so there were high levels of liquid mercury around. Because of this, groups were pushing for there to be a policy in place that prohibited pre-schools from being within 1000ft of a gas station or dry cleaner. In New Jersey, given its population density, such a thing would be virtually impossible, so they had to figure out a way to create a safe environment for children in pre-school that was feasible in the state.
- Opportunities in big data
Mr. Chivukula mentioned a myriad of opportunities for people with experience in handling large volumes of data in government. Like in pretty much every other sector, data analysts are needed in the political sphere.
- Science and policy challenges coming to a head in the near future.
Mr. Chivukula also mentioned several hot-topic areas of science and technology that have political and governmental implications. These areas may be a good entry point for scientists interested in careers in politics and government. They are: net neutrality, global warming, and climate change.
What are some other ways that science and politics might intersect? Do you think that there is a need for more scientists in politics and government?
Congressman Frank Pallone will be on campus this coming Monday (3/30) to host a round table discussion with students about student loans. They are looking for a few graduate students and there are very limited spaces still available. Let me know ASAP by email (Jennifer.Therkorn@rutgers.edu) if you’re interested in sharing your experiences with loans!
The Graduate School-New Brunswick is organizing a workshop, led by Rutgers faculty, on issues to consider in turning your dissertation into a book or article.
Monday, April 6
12:00 – 1:30 PM
College Ave Student Center, Rm. 411
Please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit NYAS Science Alliance for professional & career development opportunities for grad students and post-docs. For example:
Feb. 12: Perspectives in STEM: An evening with Dr. Cherry Murray discussing her career trajectory, sharing insights on innovation, followed by Q&A and networking
March 6-7:Software carpentry: Learn basic computing skills to be more effective in the lab
April 18: Personal branding