Lynette Spooner* and Claire
Here it is, a summary of the
talk we gave at the Centre for
Gene Research Retreat held at Orokonui, Otago, New Zealand,
13-14 June 1997.
The title of our presentation
was "Marketing Yourself as a Successful Science Graduate".
The motivation for our talk was the concern we (and many others)
feel about prospects in the current job market, especially
when a Science graduate is interested in a career outside
of the traditional research areas. By happy serendipity our
talk fitted in well with the theme for the 1997 Retreat: "The
Future - Where to from here?". A question PhD students think
about frequently, if not obsessively! We started our research
for the talk in a fairly pessimistic frame of mind but finished
feeling much more positively about our futures. We now realise
our PhDs are potentially very powerful qualifications, and
applicable to a very wide range of career options - we have
decided our only limitation is our imagination!
When we looked at statistics
of how many PhD graduates leave academic research, we started
to question the relevance of the present PhD training to the
skills many graduates actually use in their work place. We
hope we have emphasised that a PhD degree should endow a young
scientist with many transferable skills that are the "side
effects" of research training, and that it is up to you to
convince an employer that you are more than just a "science
geek". We would like to see the acquisition of these qualities
become a more conscious aim of PhD training so graduates are
ready for the "real world", and also have a realistic idea
of their capabilities and potential.
The topics covered in our talk
Our main influence for the CV
and transferable skill section was a website containing excerpts
from a book written by Peter Fiske called "To Boldly Go...A
Practical Career Guide for Scientists". The website can be
found in "Tooling Up" from Science's
Next Wave, an internet magazine written for the young
scientist which covers current job trends, new job niches,
cv preparation, book reviews, and much more. We HIGHLY recommend
both Next Wave and Peter Fiske's book. The book can be ordered
from the States by email or over the web.
We have pasted in copies of
our overheads from the rest of the talk and provided a bibliography
of references and websites.
Your First Obstacle - Your Image
We know the people that know you best love
you - and your mum thinks you're great, but unfortunately
the general public can have a very different view of scientists.
This is along the lines of social recluse or painful geek/nerd/dweeb
with a complete lack of social clues or perhaps that old favourite,
the MAD SCIENTIST. Frequently these sterotypes are perpetuated
by the media and TV and the movies. (And frequently the stereotypes
are sadly true). You may have to go to quite a bit of effort
to convince a potential employer that you are reasonably normal
and that you have useful skills and you are worth employing
(and hopefully, worth paying lots of money).
This is a fun cartoon to illustrate some
of the pre-conceptions that can be held about scientists.
Cartoon by Ian McGee (1997)
If you think these biases may be working
against you, then you need to make sure there is evidence
in your CV and your personal presentation to convince a potential