Alternative Careers

Alternative Careers

Alternative Careers

John Platt, Jenn Wade, and Tom Wagner

April 25, 2018

An Alternative Careers workshop was led by former DTM Postdoctoral Fellow John Platt, now a Data Scientist at gramLabs; Jennifer Wade, Program Director in the Petrology & Geochemistry Program, Division of Earth Sciences, NSF; and Thomas Wagner, NASA Program Scientist for the Cryosphere. 

The informal setting included an introduction by each of the panelists as to what their alternative career choices have been, why they made their choices, including the pros and cons of their decisions, followed by questions and open discussion.

Important takeaways:

  • Soft skills are very valuable
  • You already have all the skills you will need in most jobs: critical thinking; programming; analytical skills; ability to ask the right questions; self motivation; personal drive; intellectual prowess; creativity


  • Don't be afraid to venture out into the unknown
  • Learn as many technical and instrumentation techniques you can; instrumentation experience is a plus
  • You can always return to academia
  • Trust your judgement
  • Resume should be 1 page with summary sentence on top.  List your skills
  • Get as much project management skills as you can: mentor, supervise, lead, oversee

What they missed the most:  more freedom (Platt); fieldwork (Jenn); crazy depth of knowledge (Tom)

Suggested book:  Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford

Click here to view video of the presentation (Restricted to Carnegie access).