Turning Points

Midcareer Leaps
Karen Kreeger | Sep 21, 2003 | 3 min read
File Photo Letters have been streaming in from readers with career questions, no doubt similar to some of yours. I've picked two: A seasoned research scientist wonders what to do if his company downsizes and he loses his job. Are there positions for which the researcher's skills would be relevant, or would he need retraining? "Not everyone in the world of biotech has state-of-the-art molecular biology skills," says recruiter and career counselor David Jensen, Search Masters, Sedona, Ariz.
Piercing the BiotechBarrier
Karen Kreeger | Sep 7, 2003 | 3 min read
File Photo How can I break into the biotech or pharmaceutical industry? That's a question many of my readers ask. Michael Ferguson, senior manager of clinical development for Memphis, Tenn.-based Medtronic Sofamor Danek, offers insights for people who wish to take the industry path. Two years into his PhD studies in applied physiology at the University of Florida, Ferguson decided he wanted to join a biotechnology company or a clinical setting. His first step was to work for a small firm dur
'I've Got to Get Out of the Lab'
Karen Young Kreeger | Jun 29, 2003 | 3 min read
File Photo Welcome to my new-and-improved careers column; it is now interactive. When you send your questions via the E-mail address below, I will seek answers for you. Anita Koltay, who read my networking column, wrote recently with questions about career switching. She's a postdoctoral fellow at The Burnham Institute in San Diego and would like to get a job outside the lab. Past jobs required her to write technical reports; she also authors short stories and poetry. With the aptitude for a
One Scientist Survives Reorganization
Karen Young Kreeger | Jun 1, 2003 | 3 min read
File Photo Breaking into an industry research job may seem like breaking through the blood-brain barrier: You can't find out about every job on the company's web site, and when the job is listed in the classified ads, the firm gets flooded with applicants. It can be tough even if you already work in industry. For a time, it seemed to Dalai Yan, a microbiologist and antibiotic researcher with Cumbre, a small biotech in Dallas, that fate would keep him from doing the research he cared about. Be
Networking: As Easy as Making Friends
Karen Young Kreeger | Apr 20, 2003 | 2 min read
File Photo It's not what you know, but who you know. When I jumped into freelance science writing full-time more than three years ago, it was who I knew--reporters and editors at The Scientist--that got me off the ground. Getting a job in scientific research, industry, or government is much the same--you will find out about positions through your personal network. Much has been written about networking, and it's a perennial topic at career development seminars, but one that bears revisiting,
Be Web Savvy and People Smart; Fascination and Faith
Karen Young Kreeger | Mar 23, 2003 | 2 min read
File Photo When I sought my first staff position in science writing, the Web didn't exist. Now I rely on it daily. Online resources provide limitless options in your job search, whether you're a writer like me, or a scientist seeking a research position. From start to finish, the Web can mostly help--but sometimes hinder--the job hunt. Judy Brobst and Erin Fendrich, both career counselors at Colorado State University, advise job hunters not to rely entirely on the Web or on E-mail to apply fo
Becoming a Political Postdoc
Karen Young Kreeger | Feb 9, 2003 | 2 min read
File Photo When giving talks on alternative careers for scientists, I often emphasize skills that nontraditional science career employers look for, such as acumen in negotiating, communicating, teamwork, good judgment, business expertise, and adaptability. This skill list--derived from materials prepared by the Stanford University Career Planning and Placement Center--has also been put to good use by postdocs and graduate students to make their laboratories better places to work. Over the pas
Networkers' Best Kept Secrets
Karen Young Kreeger | Jan 12, 2003 | 2 min read
File Photo When I give career talks, I sometimes refer to Peter Fiske, a geochemist-turned- entrepreneur who recently wrote Put Your Science to Work: The Take-Charge Career Guide for Scientists (American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, 2001). In 1996, while attending an American Geophysical Union meeting, he conducted an informal survey asking scientists this question: "Of the many skills that people develop while in graduate school, which ones are the most valuable in the outside world?" O
Courses Steer Postdocs to Grants
Karen Young Kreeger | Nov 24, 2002 | 2 min read
File Photo For Ericka M. Boone, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, grant writing seemed a "daunting chore." She looked on it as a "huge mountain" to overcome, but knew she had to climb it one rock at a time. Few graduate students have an opportunity to write grants before starting a postdoc. They spend more time writing fellowship applications. But organizations and universities offer many opportunities to learn how to
Get Help to Win Grants
Karen Young Kreeger | Oct 27, 2002 | 2 min read
File Photo I remember well the angst over writing grant proposals. When I was a fisheries PhD student, I wrote a few while indulging in long, intimate bouts with coffee. Two proposals got funded--a large one, prepared with my advisor's help, by a federal agency, and a small one by a sports fishing research organization. This experience helped me write an aquarium's funding proposal later, when I started science writing full time. (Unfortunately that one didn't get funded.) If you are a PhD st
Three Steps to Independent Research
Karen Young Kreeger | Jul 21, 2002 | 2 min read
File Photo Brittney-Shea Herbert got an early start in grant writing during graduate school at the University of Texas, Austin, when a visiting lecturer from NASA encouraged her to apply for a fellowship, and she won it. Herbert says that applying for that first grant forced her to organize her thinking about the next steps in her research. As a postdoc in the lab run by telomerase re-searchers Jerry Shay and Woody Wright at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Herbert put her graduate