Life After Graduate School: Career Topics for Graduate Students and Postdocs:
Life After Graduate School: Career Topics for Graduate Students and Postdocs: Biotech/Industry or Academia? Searching for Jobs Applications Interviews Negotiations What’s the Future? • Note that unemployment rate among Ph.D.s is very low- 1.6% in 1997 • 1/3 of all Ph.D.s now work in industry • Broad training is increasingly required • Other skills you learn in grad school are increasingly important to your future – Communication skills- esp. writing – Ability to work in a team – Use of information technology • Systems Biology Postdoctoral Jobs Factors To Consider When Choosing a Postdoc • You are choosing the field you will be starting your own lab in- make sure there is growth opportunity (ie a niche for you) • Small labs vs big labs- each have advantages and disadvantages- visit both • Designated job or freedom to explore? • Industry or academia? • Aim high! Searching for Postdocs • You should leave your institution in order to grow • Identify three to six labs, in geographic areas you would consider, who work on topics of interest to you – Funded investigators (check CRISP) – Productive investigators (check PubMed) • Don’t just respond to ads! Searching for Postdocs • Send a CV and a cover letter to these labs with an approximate time frame for Ph.D. – Start a year ahead – Remember that few actually graduate on time – Aim high- very good labs, not just a job • You will most likely be asked to interview – If you cannot interview, arrange to meet the PI or members of his lab at a meeting • Be persistent! Choosing a Postdoc • Staying in the same field as your grad work provides continuity: you already know the field as well as some of your future reviewers • Choose a change in technique or system/organism but not both • Get broad training but also specialize in something specific START EARLY!!!! Postdoc at NIH? • Advantages – Good financial resources and state-of the art equipment – Good intellectual resources: synergy – Stimulating metropolitan area – Salaries higher than elsewhere – No grant writing • Disadvantages – Physical crowding – No grant writing- difficult to prepare for academia! • Guide to find mentors: http://www1.od.nih.gov/oir/sourcebook/ethicconduct/mentor-guide.htm The Postdoc Cover Letter • No more than ½ to 1 page • Describe your current area of research in a few sentences • Describe what you would like to learn • Ask to be considered for a position • Say when you will be ready • Remember the postdoc market is excellent: you will most likely have many offers! – Having 1-2 publications will increase the number The Curriculum Vitae • Provides a clear record of your educational and research accomplishments • Standard format includes: – – – – – – Your name and the DATE! Personal information (contact address and info) Educational history Honors and Fellowships Teaching Experience (if appropriate) Grant and research support (if appropriate) The Curriculum Vitae, II • Membership in professional societies • Invited lectures (if appropriate) • Research and Publications • Some formats list only the publications followed by the abstracts • Others intersperse this information with a concise summary of what the work showed • Optional • Personal interests (biking, fishing) (no) • Techniques mastered (PCR, immunocytochemistry) (yes) • References (at least three, up to five) • NO TYPOS! Letters of Recommendation • • • • • Thesis advisor - mandatory Prominent faculty member in Dept? Any faculty you have interacted with-? Collaborators? Ask referees if they can write a positive letter; if you have any doubts, then do not use the referee (some fellowships require top scoring) Interviewing for a Postdoc • You may be asked to give a talk (50%) • Ask other lab members what the PI’s style is – Know your own style- hands-off? Interactive? • Find out where former lab members are now • Don’t ask about salary: it will be in your offer After the Interview • Send thank-you with a time frame for your decision if you already have an offer • Make your decision; involve your committee members if you have questions • Let the other places know RIGHT AWAY (you are taking a spot away from someone else!) • Plan to write an NIH postdoc grant 9 months ahead if you are a US citizen or have a green card Negotiating a Postdoc Position • If there is a job you want and you have not heard yet, but you do have other offers, tactfully contact the PI/institution and explain that you need to make a decision • Most likely you will then receive an offer • It is unusual to request more money for a postdoc: generally the PI pays what he/she can afford/thinks is competitive with the others in the lab Postdoc Salaries • Formerly: $28,260 for entry-level postdocs, rising to $44,412 for those with at least seven years' experience. • New NIH guidelines Mar 1 2004: start at $35,568; 3 yrs is $43,428; 7 years experience is now $51,036 (it will take up to 5 years for source grants to catch up!) • Note that at NIH staff fellowships often pay more: there is a big range depending on source! • Equipment, technical assistance, professional travel, or “any other activity directly related to the Fellow's research” may also be supported by some sources Postdoctoral Training Grants • You need to show you will experience professional growth – Go to another institution – Learn other techniques or a new field Postdoctoral Training Grants • Identify a postdoctoral mentor – One year or more before anticipated graduation – Be proactive- most people are looking for fellows – Submit your proposal well before moving • Success elements - in order of priority – – – – Your mentor’s reputation (pubs, grants,status) Your own accomplishments (grades, pubs) Training plan (courses, techniques to be learned) Research plan (clear, doable) • There are 3 deadlines a year-Jan 10, May 10 and Sept 10 for Kirschstein 416-1 awards Postdoctoral Training Grants • Project – Should be doable and limited – Should provide training expertise – Need not be extensive • Your qualifications – Recommendations extremely important • Top 5-10% – Grad school GPA 3.0 and above – Publications (1-2) and presentations (2) How Long Should It Take To Write? • It’s only 10 pages- give yourself one month maximum! – Get forms from NIH.gov – Discuss ideas with future mentor and read papers – Write! • Make sure PI will be in the office to do his/her part • In the last week, focus full-time on proofing etc. • Remember institutional deadlines (mentor’s) precede NIH’s Writing a Successful Proposal • Background and Specific Aims – Must persuade reviewer of need for work • Experimental Design – Must persuade reviewer of your ability to think, anticipate problems, design experiments • Less is more- do not propose 5 years of work! • Have 3 people read and critique your proposal • • • • • • • • • • Postdoctoral Funding Opportunities email@example.com NIH individual grant NIH training grant Many, many other sources- disease-related – AHA and ACS are the largest NIH research training opportunities http://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm National Academies' report http://www.nationalacademies.org/postdocs Howard Hughes Medical Institute http://www.hhmi.org Alfred P. Sloan Foundation http://www.sloan.org Burroughs Wellcome Fund http://www.bwfund.org Robert Wood Johnson Foundation http://www.rwjf.org Other Postdoc Resources • See COSEPUP document: – http://www7.nationalacademies.org/postd oc/ • National Organization of Postdocs website • There are currently 40,000 postdocs! START EARLY!!!! Biotechnology and Industry What are the salaries? Note different scales Advantages and Disadvantages of Biotech • Advantages – Higher salaries-perhaps twice if postdoc (6070k); also many other perks- stock options, bonuses etc – Well-equipped facilities – Focused work environment • Disadvantages – You may find an interesting phenomenon and not be permitted to explore it, if it is not relevant to company goals – You must put your group’s interests ahead of your personal interests: teamwork effort Hiring Trends in Industry • Multidisciplinary training very useful – Molecular biology and business – Chemistry and law – Life sciences and programming • Conversely some specialized areas are hot – Proteomics, genomics, drug discovery, medicinal chemists – Industrial specializations such as formulations, product development and process scientists, clinical project managers, regulatory affairs • Systems biology Biotech or Industry? • Note that some industrial companies are giant pharmaceutical or chemical companies and others are startups with 20-60 employees – How will you fit into existing culture? – Can you live with insecurity of small company? • Biotech companies are smaller but risk is higher Biotech • • • • • 3,000 firms were polled in 2003 Increase of 12% in hiring 90% have 500 or fewer employees Most located in six states See US Dept of Commerce Report – www.technology.gov/reports/Biotechnolog y/CD120a_0310.pdf Biotech Jobs • Market is tough in years when venture capital is low • Use every resource to locate positions – Networking; meetings; online sites; journal ads; headhunters • Make sure you are a match for the job before applying • There is no substitute for the personal contact • Many companies create positions in December to hire in January Applying to Biotech, II • Do a postdoc in biotech if you think you want to work in biotech- it makes you more competitive to have industry experience (ask about advancement) • Make contacts within the company at meetings if possible- ask people who come to your poster (and go to theirs!) about opportunities at their company • Finding a good biotech job at the Ph.D. level is equally difficult as finding an academic position! The Biotech Resume • Is different than the academic CV: 2-3 pages, not 5-6 -even for mature scientist • Use key words- technologies you have used • Relate your accomplishments, not your skills- use brief, 25-word descriptions of how you put the “key word” items into practice • Must persuade that you have the abilities that will help achieve corporate goals: SALES JOB • Short and snappy! No publications, posters, abstracts, no personal interests What is an “Accomplishment”? • A way you helped your previous organization make money • Or save money- increased efficiency, cost reduction • Developing something new or different – Advanced a research program, a breakthrough, a new product, a new line of research or technique Improving the Resume • Use action-oriented verbs such as “established, directed, managed, increased, created, launched, trained, instituted, designed • Forget “assisted, helped, served”-and “responsible for” • Use specific numbers when possible- dollars, number of people supervised, papers etc • See Science jobs website for other tips The Biotech Cover Letter • Customized for each job • 3-4 paragraphs – First one specifically states how your experience fits the particular position – Second one lists your accomplishments – Third thanks the addressee and says that you will either call or wait to hear. Example: Industry Experience Required! DIRECTOR, INDUSTRIAL ENZYME APPLICATIONS My client is a recognized leader in the development of novel enzyme products for a multitude of industrial applications. With 50/50 support from two of the largest, most respected biotech & pharma companies, this Joint-Venture is sure to continue its growth and client base. Located in the beautiful southern California coast, this opportunity will not be around long! You will be responsible for the design, implementation, and management of all research in the arena of enzyme application. Focus will be on products and services for identified industries, and you will oversee said research milestones and delivery in contracted 3rdparty laboratories. Accurate and timely documentation of results, monitoring activities, and setting project guidelines and goals will be required. The researching and assembling of all relevant information for development of new product and service concepts in a variety of industries will also be performed. PhD in biochemistry (or related field) with 6-8 years of industry experience. Proven experience with applicable, related research is a must! Familiarity with and knowledge of enzymes, biocatalysts, and process optimization as they apply to industrial fields is a plus. Now is the best time to join this proven leader in industrial enzymes -- if this sounds like you, please send you resume/CV (as an MS Word document) to (Please use the application form below) and let's talk! Interviewing for Biotech • Prepare: read everything you can about the company you are visiting/ do mock interview • Review the annual report, pubs of people you will meet • Be guided by the ad: be prepared to say how you fit their qualifications • Show enthusiasm for the work • Give seminar, meet people all day long • No second interviews (usually) Biotechnology Career Websites • http://www.accessexcellence.org/AB/ CC/ • http://recruit.sciencemag.org/featur e/cperspec/corner.shl • Many job sites connect to companiesbig pharma • Pfizer site has a lot of tips Academia Academia Has Many Advantages • The scientific questions you answer are your own and are not related to company goals • You can grow at your own pace • 1 grant or 3 grants; 1 technician or 10 postdocs • You are your own boss in many waysyou decide hiring, travel, reviewing responsibilities etc • Opportunity for subsidized travel Academia Has Disadvantages • You must be self-supporting in terms of dollars and ideas • You are essentially running a small company without having been fully prepared for some of the skills involved (human resources, financial management, lecture preparation) • You must be good at multi-tasking: teaching, research, administration, reviewing -so that all demands are balanced Finding Academic Jobs • Science magazine • Contacts from meetings, colleagues, your mentor • Bulletin boards • University • Organization websites (ASCB) • Job bureaus at meetings Cover Letters and CVs for Academic Appointments • The CV is similar to the postdoc CV but includes talks; teaching experience; and any grants obtained. Should be detailed! • The cover letter is more generic than for biotech- states your intent to apply; your accomplishments; and a few sentences about your area of work • Unique: 1-3 pages of your planned research program (or teaching philosophy for teaching positions) is attached to CV Interviewing for a Faculty Position, I • Be prepared- know interests of faculty who will interview you; find potential areas of mutual interest to talk about • Give a good seminar (introduction! Future plans!) • You will meet with 10-20 people in 2 days – If not science talk about shared equipment, quality of life issues • Meet with other newly hired faculty • Be extremely tactful with everyone; no complaints! Interviewing, II • If you are in the top few you will be invited back for second interview • You should have list of needed equipment /resources ready (core facilities?) • You will meet more people outside the Department as well as inside • Informal offer may be made that day or more likely afterwards in writing Negotiating a Faculty Position, I • Negotiations for permanent positions will include many different aspects – Salary (median salary for Assistant Prof is currently is 70K); med schools pay more than undergrad institutions – Space (800-1200 sq feet) – Startup (ranges from 150K to 300K) – Equipment (shared or all yours?) – Teaching (# contact hours per year- 15-20 eventually at a medical school; more at an undergrad institution) – Committee/administrative responsibilities Negotiating a Faculty Position, II • Salary is not everything- benefits can vary greatly – Subsidized home purchase/loan rate – Subsidized health insurance – Retirement benefits • Soft vs hard money guarantees- what % of your salary do you have to provide? (0% to 100%) Research Assistant Professor • Not tenured • Can be lab “lieutenant” • Advantages – Someone else writes the grants and has the pressure – You can do independent science • Disadvantages – Pay; Recognition; Security Clinical Appointments • More common these days • Can be tenured • Advantage: clinical departments can generate revenue for your research; pay better • Disadvantage: do not want to be isolated from other researchers/colleagues What Does Your Ph.D. Mean? • You have a broad knowledge of current scientific knowledge with a specialization in one area • You can research a problem and design and implement a solution independently • You are a motivated worker • You have developed communication skills • You have developed organizational skills • Therefore, you are competent to perform a wide variety of jobs besides research…. Alternative Careers for Science Ph.D.s (besides research) • Law- patent, tech transfer • Finance- business experience helps • Sales and Tech Support-most companies hire Ph.D.s • Journalism -freelance or staff • Teaching -small colleges • Public policy (science) – AAAS, other organizations • Administration (NIH, NSF, many other private and public organizations) Acknowledgments • ASCB Life Sciences Job Hunt Booklet – (order free from ASCB site!) • Science Jobs website: http://recruit.sciencemag.org/featur e/cperspec/corner.shl Good Luck!