I am excited to announce that I will soon be unveiling a new feature for this blog- a video podast series, or vodcast (the hipper term I just learned at the CUNY Science Day), exploring career options for science PhDs. The series will consist of 10-15 minute interviews with science PhDs on their post-graduate career trajectories and include both those who have moved away from the bench as well as those who have remained in research. My motivation for launching this series is to help science PhDs make better-informed career decisions by demystifying life after grad school (or a postdoc) and presenting the many options before you.
Increasing awareness of the career options available to science PhDs is critical because the realities of the job market tell us that most will not end up in tenure-track faculty positions. In 2003-2006, only 19% of recent doctoral graduates and 26% of graduates 4-6 years out held tenure-track academic appointments.1 Nevertheless, a 1999 survey of doctoral students showed that a majority entered graduate school with the intention of being a professor and did not think there were enough workshops on career options; they also reported not feeling encouraged to participate in the ones that did exist. 2 One of the recommendations borne out of this study was that graduate programs should “make available and publicize opportunities to help students explore and prepare for a variety of careers, in and out of academia (ibid.).”
Since this report was published, there has been an expansion of resources available to science PhDs, if not on individual campuses then via the web, through school career services offices, postdoctoral affairs offices, national associations, websites like Nature Jobs and Science Careers, and programs like Science Alliance. Typical resources include articles, books, panels, and workshops; the new video podcast series I’m introducing here is but one more tool to add to your career exploration toolkit.
Although one of many resources available to you, I expect you will find unique value in these videos in that they are like experiencing a virtual informational interview- something which everyone should do before deciding on a career path. Informational interviews, not to be confused with a job interview, are helpful because not only do you quickly learn about the practical aspects of a particular job or field but you also have an opportunity to hear about the personal side. In the videos presented here, I will be taking on your role in the informational interview, asking other science PhDs how they selected their chosen career paths, the circumstances that played a role, the steps taken to ready themselves for their career transitions, what they love about their jobs, and the truth about the pitfalls and challenges. And remember, the responses will all be coming from individuals who have at one point been where you are likely to be now: in the midst of grad school or a postdoc struggling to figure out what the heck to do with your PhD. Hopefully these interviews will inspire you and serve as jumping-off points for your own career exploration process.
So stay tuned! The first vodcast will be coming soon….
In the meantime, what are some careers you are most interested in hearing about? What are the questions you would like answered that would have the greatest impact on your career decisions?
1 Science and Engineering Indicators, 2010. Table 3-18. Doctorate recipients holding tenure and tenure-track appointments at academic institutions, by years since receipt of doctorate and selected field: 1993, 2003, and 2006.
2 Golde and Dore "At Cross Purposes: What the Experiences of Today's Doctoral Students Reveal about Doctoral Education" 2001 Table 1. Proportion of Students Interested in a Faculty Career.