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091: Cross-Train for the Faculty Track with the Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Fellowship

Think about your training as a grad student and postdoc – you spend countless hours at the bench, running experiments and reading papers to finish your personal research project.

Now think about your PI or faculty advisor.

Does she spend time at the bench?  Or are you more likely to find her in her office, writing grants, attending departmental meetings, and managing people, projects, and money?

If you’re noticing a mismatch between academic training and the actual work of a faculty member, you’re not alone.  The skills and traits that make us successful students may not translate into making us successful professors and PIs.

That’s where a unique postdoctoral fellowship steps in to bridge the gap: it’s the Academic Pathways program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Their goal is to prepare postdocs for entry-level faculty jobs, with a special focus on increasing diversity at the highest levels of academia.

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088: 15 Transferable Skills PhDs Can Use In Any Career

But I have no skills! At least no skills employers would be interested in!

Melanie Sinche
Melanie Sinche, Director of Education, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine

As a career counselor, Melanie Sinche heard grad students and postdocs voice this concern nearly every day.  She looked at these talented scholars and saw the ability to think critically, analyze data, and solve problems. To her eye, these were transferable skills very much in demand outside the research lab.  Why couldn’t the students see it?

“I felt frustrated by that comment, and motivated to conduct a research study around skill development. I would argue that scientific training, by its very nature, lends itself to the development of LOTS of skills.”

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064: A PhD Internship Will Help You Get a Job

You might think internships are the domain of business students and undergrads.  You’re training every day in a lab – why would you need more experiential learning?

The short answer is that your laboratory training is a great internship if you want to go on to a faculty position at a major research university.

But what if you want to use your scientific training to craft policy and legislation in your state government?

Or what if you want to work with a Contract Research Organization and help shepherd new drugs through clinical trials?

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044: 5 Myths About University Teaching Jobs That YOU Probably Believe

We know that stepping from academia to industry is met with scorn for the person ‘selling out’ and leaving the university, but there’s a subtler form of bias against those scientists who actually like to teach.

The moment you consider applying for a university teaching position, your advisors and peers will come out of the woodwork to tell you what a bad idea that is. It’s unstable, a waste of your abilities, and you’ll be bored in just four days!

And God forbid you mention a job that doesn’t offer tenure.

This week on the show, we talk with a professor who took that fateful teaching job, and lived to tell about it.  In fact, she’s happier than she’s ever been.

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039: Two simple steps to better research mentors

Sometimes, we use the words ‘research advisor’ and ‘research mentor’ interchangeably, but be careful – they’re not the same thing.

When you join the lab of a research faculty member in your second year of grad school, you’ve chosen a research advisor.  Whether that person turns out to be a ‘mentor’ remains to be seen.

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