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A step sideways in science Tuesday 6 th October 2009 Anne Cooke Neuroscience Research Facilitator and Communications Manager Bristol Neuroscience.

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Presentation on theme: "A step sideways in science Tuesday 6 th October 2009 Anne Cooke Neuroscience Research Facilitator and Communications Manager Bristol Neuroscience."— Presentation transcript:

1 A step sideways in science Tuesday 6 th October 2009 Anne Cooke Neuroscience Research Facilitator and Communications Manager Bristol Neuroscience

2 A.How I stepped sideways - from academic career path to academic-related post 1.What does a background in academia provide? 2.Pearls of wisdom 3.Some examples and ideas B.Other peoples sideways steps C.Summary and any questions

3 My career path from academia A-levels Year out – experience MA Natural Sciences (Physiology) – PE work PhD Neurophysiology – PE, communication skills, project management... Post-doc – crunch time 1. Up to December 2002 Neuroscience Research Facilitator and Communications Manager Deep end Doggy paddle Head above water – mostly! 1. From January 2003

4 A.How I stepped sideways - from academic career path to academic-related post 1.What does a background in academia provide? 2.Pearls of wisdom 3.Some examples and ideas B.Other peoples sideways steps C.Summary and any questions

5 Yes No When you started, did you have any idea what you wanted to go on to afterwards? Was PhD essential to apply for &/or carry out current role? Either way, does it help in what you are now doing? Other peoples steps along and away from academia n = 7 Survey

6 In what ways does a background in academia help? assimilation and interpretation of information data handling communication and writing skills training and management using initiative self-motivation and working on my own motivating others and working in a team teaching organisation skills time management and meeting deadlines managing my supervisor patience, perseverance, persistence - and knowing when to give up 1. Generic and transferable skills - survey

7 Understanding of the scientific process Familiarity with science organisations (such as funders, universities, industries) Knowing academics and contacts who can help me in my present, science-related job 2. Knowledge of science and the world of academic research In what ways does a background in academia help? - survey

8 Confidence – I work with academics: the PhD means that they know that I have an idea of their working lives. I notice (rightly or wrongly) that I am sometimes afforded a little more respect, friendliness, camaraderie when academics find out I have an academic background. One of the great things about having completed a PhD is that I feel confidence that if I can do that, I can do anything. 3. Confidence In what ways does a background in academia help? - survey

9 1.Generic skills 2.Expert knowledge of your subject and the world of academia 3.Confidence In what ways does a background in academia help? - summary A wide variety of skills that transfer to any job (from good writing to perseverance!) An academic career is a major achievement under your belt that no-one can ever take away.

10 But what do I want to do with it all? ?

11 A.How I stepped sideways - from academic career path to academic-related post 1.What does a background in academia provide? 2.Pearls of wisdom 3.Some examples and ideas B.Other peoples sideways steps C.Summary and any questions

12 Pearls of wisdom – To stay or to step from academia? Enjoy where you are now! - take advantage of working in a University environment, flexible working hours and interesting work – you get out what you put in Think carefully about implications of a career in academia: e.g. - repetitive experiments, challenge of failures, scientific writing, competition - difficulty of settling down - short term contracts etc etc Think about what aspects you enjoy the most - and the least. e.g. - reading, literature searches, hypothesising, analysis? - teaching, organising, presenting? - field trips, data collection or lab work? This will - give you an idea about the sort of person you are - translate to the type of work you will enjoy and be good at

13 Do voluntary work in the field you are thinking of entering – you will find if you really like it and could lead to a job Gain experience in other fields - teaching, public engagement, organising events etc are a brilliant way to demonstrate other skills to a potential employee. You will reap the rewards when it comes to applications Talk to people – you discover careers and opportunities and make your own luck. Get in touch with other people doing other jobs, dont be afraid to phone – can often give advice, experience & details of the job - invaluable! Talking to people actually doing the job much more useful than reading about it. Pearls of wisdom – how to find out about other options 4. Some thoughts, suggestions, advice

14 A.How I stepped sideways - from academic career path to academic-related post 1.What does a background in academia provide? 2.Pearls of wisdom 3.Some examples and ideas B.Other peoples sideways steps C.Summary and any questions

15 Case study - Medical Writer Features valued and enjoyed the most - Creativity Variety Always learning Main drawbacks Long hours: 20h day not unusual Difficult clients No company pension 3. Some examples of (other) science careers

16 Case study – Science event organiser Features valued and enjoyed the most - Varied Good work/home balance Investigating scientific topics Main drawbacks Busy periods - late and weekend work Mundane tasks Limited scope - small organisation 3. Some examples of (other) science careers

17 Case study - Working for a charitable science organisation Features valued and enjoyed the most - Variety Supportive colleagues Meeting lots of people from different backgrounds Main drawbacks Poor pay in the charity sector Long commute in London I miss days of mindless experiments – less chance for chatting and listening to music! 3. Some examples of (other) science careers

18 More alternative science careers 2.Bristol Neuroscience hefce Science administration, management and policy Highly important roles in science MRC and related organisations Chance to shape policy in e.g. neuroethics Teaching and education PGCE to become a teacher or related professional Science Communication, public engagement. Science and the media Scientific publishing Careers in all other sectors of the media Medicine Medical, dental or veterinary school Paramedical careers: nursing, physiotherapy, alternative medicine IT, robotics and computing Neuroscience highly relevant for information processing, computational systems, AI, robotics Growing interest in the brain-style approach in the world of IT – opportunities for neuroscientists Science and art New genre New ways to open science to the public New opportunities for careers MRC, Artist: Dr Lizzie Burns Neuroscience and biomedical research All fields, public and private sector All industries - drugs, food, washing powder!

19 A.How I stepped sideways - from academic career path to academic-related post 1.What does a background in academia provide? 2.Pearls of wisdom 3.Some examples and ideas B.Other peoples sideways steps C.Summary and any questions

20 Do I stay in academia? Consider what YOU value, what is most rewarding and important for you Drawing up a pros and cons table can be really useful Re-evaluate at intervals; the highs and lows Take advantage of opportunities in your current job - you get out what you put in How do I take a step sideways? Use job flexibility to gain experience – teaching, voluntary work, public engagement TALK to anyone and everyone! Dont forget, all jobs have pros and cons; grass greener Summary and conclusions

21 Dont panic! Don't NOT apply for jobs because you don't have all the skills they are asking for – you are an intelligent person and you will be able to learn new techniques quickly. Go for it! And if you do...

22 Bristol Neuroscience Any questions?

23 And to think that just yesterday you were a failed experiment, and I was a lonely scientist. If all else fails...


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