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161. Career Development is NOT a Waste of Time. We Have Proof.

All those feelings of excitement and possibility screech to a halt when you walk back into the lab to see your PI glaring over her reading glasses.

She looks at her watch. “Hey, good to see you. So glad you could join us,” she drips with sarcasm.

After missing a beat, you rally. “Yeah, sorry about being a little late. I heard about an information session on internships for grad students and wanted to check it out. It seems like a really great opportunity for me to…”

She cuts you off there. “Well, I’m not sure you have time for internships or information sessions if you aren’t making progress on that paper.”

And just like that, the hope dies within you and you slump back on your lab bench.

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153. Where Do PhDs Work? The Answer Shouldn’t Surprise You.

If you went to graduate school before the turn of the millennium, you probable expected to (eventually) land in a tenure-track position at a University. You may have known a few peers who got teaching gigs, or *gasp* went into ‘industry positions’, but the expectation was to follow in your mentor’s footsteps.

Today, lots of students earn a PhD knowing full well they won’t set foot on the tenure-track. They want to be science writers, policy advisors, staff scientists, or entrepreneurs.

And thankfully, graduate training programs are starting to adapt to this new reality. The first order of business when trying to help students achieve their myriad career goals is to start tracking key metrics.

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150. Rediscover Your Scientific Passion

Nadia wanted to help patients. She had considered going to medical school, but found biomedical research to be an exciting opportunity to develop new knowledge and therapies.

After graduate school, she continued her training as a postdoc. She was on the faculty-track, making plans for her project and her next career advancement.

Then, COVID hit.

She was living and working in New York City as the largest pandemic in a century unfolded around her. She realized she had developed some skills over her years of training – PCR, data management, lab operations – that might make a difference in patient outcomes.

So she pressed pause on her postdoctoral work to start a clinical testing lab that now runs 60,000 COVID tests each week.

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149. Yes, Grad Students, You DO Have Transferable Skills

If you’re a graduate student thinking about a career that lies off the tenure track, you’re probably vaguely nervous that your skills at the bench won’t take you very far in the business world.

Career experts always ask you to highlight your ‘transferable skills,’ but what does that actually mean?

Is it true that you’re hiding a set of superpowers beyond just pipetting small amounts of liquid from tube to tube?

This week on the show, we explain the mysterious world of transferable skills, and tell you how to build on those powers while you’re still a student.

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