Hello, world! It’s a pleasure to be writing for Bio Careers – my first entry and my first blog. I consider myself fortunate to have enjoyed science from a number of vantage points (in no particular order): mixing art and science; academia and a graduate degree; my first job in biotech; the excitement of a start-up IPO; teaching within a K-12 classroom; and currently, as a scientist at a national laboratory.
My career path hasn’t taken too many detours from strict academia, rather just enough to make it interesting. After my BS, I half-heartedly and hesitantly applied to graduate schools. I attribute that attitude to a heavy sense of insecurity, something I’ve witnessed in myself and other fresh graduates (a topic that I will probably re-visit in a later blog entry). Meanwhile, my undergrad advisor took note of the biotech boom happening in Southern California, ran into a colleague who was hiring, and passed my name on. That’s how I got my first job.
This was, perhaps, my first “connection” made via networking and I hadn’t done anything! Well, that’s not strictly true. I went through a standard interview process and landed the job on my own merits. More importantly, however, I had spent years and years cultivating a relationship with my advisor prior to this point. We had built a strong rapport and he felt comfortable giving out stellar recommendations on my behalf.
Some people think that networking is a “smarmy” word associated with disingenuous encounters, lots of handshakes, and business card coasters. However, I think that the opposite is true. A network is built around the relationships you nurture and its strength is directly related to the effort you put into those relationships. Yes, networking can boost you into high places and insert you into strategic positions, but the best way to network is to keep in touch (sincerely) with old friends/colleagues at the times when you don’t need any help at all. Drop an email to say “hi, just checking in to see how folks are doing,” or catch up to share your news. It’s fun! And if you haven’t done so already, open a LinkedIn account. It’s like Facebook, but for adults and professionals like you, the ones reading this blog. 🙂
Look for me and more blog entries in the near future. I’ll continue regaling the career adventures that led me to a job with a government lab and thoughts on navigating through the job-hunting jungle. Good luck to you on your own search!