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, especially for a profession whose practitioners often have to force themselves to schmooze. "Scientific research often preselects for people who have decided they don't want people-oriented jobs, so you start out with people who in a classical sense you might call introverted," says Diane Kneeland, senior career advisor at the University of Texas, Austin.
As a result, many scientists also will be predisposed to doing much of their...