Searching for Jobs Outside of Academia

Non-Academic Jobs Workshop
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 

On Friday, 4 April 2014, DTM hosted a Non-Academic Scientific Jobs Workshop in the Abelson Collaboration Center (ACC) for current DTM and GL postdoctoral fellows and associates. Speakers included Winston Chan of Corvusys. Inc., Michelle Weinberger of the Schafer Corporation, David Applegate of the US Geological Survey (USGS), and Sonia Esperanca of the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Each year, the search for academic jobs becomes more and more competitive. The search for jobs outside of academia is a big step for postdocs and they could use advice on why they should look into other options and how to proceed. Working in challenging, innovative, lucrative, and important non-academic scientific jobs can be as equally gratifying as academic jobs.

The speakers discussed the trials and tribulations, as well as successes they have all had with non-academic positions in the science industry.  Sonia Esperanca discovered she had more time to work solely as a technician and focus on science without having to teach, or hold office hours.  Winston Chan discovered all kinds of new collaborations in the industrial world that created more resources and opportunities for him, and found it hard to go back to an academic position.  David Applegate explained the benefits to working as a science consultant for the government.  He has had unlimited access to the Library of Congress, has worked with congressional and fellowship agencies, and has provided expert scientific advice and research for natural disasters and hazards, while working with government and non-government scientists.

Michelle Weinberger explained some valuable tips to the postdoctoral associates for non-academic job hunting.  Her tips were as follows:

  • Go to career fairs, and go prepared.
  • Take advantage of converting CV to resume services.
  • Ask questions to employers, especially science related questions.
  • Take any and all interviews! Even if the job is of little interest, it will be great practice.

The workshop wrapped up with the speakers answering great questions from the postdocs.  Some questions that were addressed included the explanation of hardships for non-US citizens becoming employed with non-academic jobs, and some different examples of non-traditional careers in science.  

It was a eye-opening learning experience for the postdoctoral fellows and associates with the aim of strengthening their skills for the highly competitive post-postdoc world!