A busy year adjusting to a new career is evident when a blog post is more than a year overdue. This tardy post is appropriate, though, as it includes identifying an optimal career path and networking to set yourself on that path.
In November of 2015, I gave a talk at the University of Washington as part of the Bioscience Careers Seminar Series entitled, “Finding the Right Fit, and How to Get There.” The PowerPoint-free presentation focused on the three steps that in my experience, and from the experiences that have been shared with me, are essential to networking and finding a good career fit. The guidance focused on academics looking to leave academia but the principles are universal. The three general steps are:
- Step 1: Know your community
- Step 2: Know yourself
- Step 3: Know the “stuff”
Step 1 includes going outside your comfort zone to broaden your contacts and advice on meeting with people for professional networking. Step 2 built on this with specific exercises to help guide your search and also a gentle suggestion to do some honest self-reflection. Step 3 refers to knowing the language and technologies or products of the field you want to enter. Some of the more specific ideas I included came from an earlier blog post: Five Networking Tips. There is also a downloading video of my entire talk available See the talk.
The meat of the talk was followed up with discussions of small vs. large companies, startups, and consulting based on my experience, my observations, and the advice I have accumulated.
However, during the question and answer session, I realized the following gaps in my knowledge: 1) potentially out of date specific information on the career track at large consulting firms (such as McKinsey) for entry-level PhDs, 2) limited information on PhD-level scientists leaving academia for banking, and 3) I have no idea if STEM PhDs that then continue on for a JD enter law firms through a different career path.
Coming back to this after a year away, it’s time to update all my information. I am reaching out to my network, but if a reader of this post has anything they would like to share, please comment below.
Additionally, I’m continuing to collect personal experiences of academic journeys out of academia, as well as tidbits of useful advice. Contributions are very welcome.