Exploring My Options

Career Paths
Exploring My Options
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Whether you’ve got a brand new MD or PhD behind your name or are looking for a career change, you know you have to start somewhere. This web site has the resources to help you find the career that best suits your interests, personality style and skills. There are literally hundreds of career choices for PhDs in the life sciences or for MDs who want another option to a medical practice. Before you pick one, however, you may want to follow a stepwise approach toward finding that dream career. You may have done some career-oriented self-analysis in the past; however, your interests and skill levels change over time and you will want to have the most updated profile of the career choices that fit you best.

Begin at the My Options page with the Keirsey Temperament Sorter-II. This is a 70-question personality inventory similar to the Myers-Briggs, except it has a special emphasis on career sorting. The Sorter can help you decide if you work well as an outgoing individual, comfortable in the business world or if you’re more comfortable behind a research bench. The results may surprise you. Using this tool may open new doors for you by helping you decide what type of career and workplace best matches your personality style. Furthermore, this test has been tailored to fit the career paths outlined in the My Options page, recommending specific jobs for different temperaments that fit with candidates that have high educational accomplishments in life sciences and medicine. The next test you may want to take is the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey. This is a relatively long survey that highlights your interest areas in a wide range of careers. Again, you may be surprised. While you know you like the life sciences, you may find you have a hidden interest in marketing or in entrepreneurship. Taking the survey can help to uncover some of these interests.
Another helpful exercise offered on this web site is the Personal Skills Assessment. Employers want to know the entirety your basic skills set as it applies to the job you are interested in. Your Skills Set may not always be something that can be found in your college transcripts. Fill out the activities you’ve done and try to determine which skills you’ve learned that are transferable to a job you’re looking toward. When you know your skills set, you can more easily sell yourself in a job interview.

Look over the various Options Categories on the My Options page. The articles within the career paths will help you discover whether or not a career in areas as diverse as public health or military research fit with your interests, skills and personality. For example, you may not have previously thought that finance and venture capital would match with your PhD; however, you’ll see how many individuals with PhDs in the life sciences have been very successful in these areas. You may decide that a particular area really interests you, but you need to add to your skills set in order to be a perfect match. For example, getting a one-year MBA may open doors in career areas that completely blend your PhD and an MBA. It’s all about you and what you ultimately need to fulfill your goals. Finally, research specific employers you are interested in on the My Employer Research Tools page. Here you’ll find excellent data base tools, Hoovers and Wetfeet, to supplement the career path specific information available at the Bookstore.

Now you are ready for informational interviews. The Interviews section of Job Search basics has lots of great thoughts about how to pursue this critical search task. Exploring your options involves finding your passion and reaching for it. Employers can tell who is really passionate about a position and your genuine interest will serve you well. It’s also important to remember that most career paths are not linear. You may decide to take a certain career path because it interests you and know that it will serve you well should you decide to change course in five to ten years. While it was common several decades ago to graduate from college and stick with one career path throughout the remainder of your working years, this is not the norm today. You have the option of exploring more than one career area and allowing each work experience to build on the last. Each job provides you with "lateral learning experiences" not taught in colleges or universities.

Be prepared to interview for a variety of positions unless you feel committed to a certain field or area. You have years of education behind you. Don’t be afraid to flaunt it along with the other skills you’ve picked up along the way. With a little bit of advanced homework, you can narrow down your options to those that really appeal to you. Start your job search, find some contacts and start meeting people. A career with your name on it is out there for the taking if you’re willing to be creative and open-minded in your search.