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Centre for Gene Research

Marketing Yourself as a Successful Science Graduate
Lynette Spooner & Claire McGowan, June 1997

 

  Lynette Spooner* and Claire McGowan#

Lynette Spooner & Claire McGowan

 

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 were:

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

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 employer otherwise.

 

Centre for Gene Research
Centre for Gene Research
Centre for Gene Research

 

A Grassroots Organisation of Active Research Scientists
Last Updated: November 2001


Centre for Gene Research
Centre for Gene Research
Centre for Gene Research
Centre for Gene Research