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Consider post-doctoral training in industry
The best preparation for a scientist job search
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Article Source: naturejobs Get a Foot in the Door

Published online: 27 October 2004; |

Grace Wong, PhD
Grace Wong is founder and chief scientific officer of ActoKine Therapeutics and founder of Student Vision.

Get a foot in the door
There is no magic trick for landing a good job in science. But if you produce good research or file useful patents, you can take a few steps to plant the seeds of opportunity.

Network. Introductions from friends, mentors and collaborators are especially valuable. When you come in contact with people who teach you and share ideas, do reciprocate. Show a sincere interest in their achievements and help them during difficult times.

Follow up. Collecting business cards is even more important than giving out yours. Maintain close contacts with mentors and friends, not just when you need a job. E-mail your CV directly to scientists, who will notice your attributes more than administrators. If you cannot meet the speakers from conferences, search for their e-mail addresses and ask for slides.

Volunteer. To build new skills and contacts, spend some time in a different lab. Volunteering at commercial conferences can get you a free pass to attend seminars and meet speakers. Organizing seminars and panel discussions for local societies is also a good way to meet scientists.

Be industrious. Even if you are based in academia, collaborate with industry-based scientists. They could provide unique reagents or helpful recommendations. One may even become your future boss. Consider a temporary industry job or a postdoc. You will gain valuable perspective on industry, and may get hired permanently.

Meet people. Attend free seminars at small academic symposia to meet scientists and catch up on hot technologies. Talk to vendors at trade shows. Ask them which companies are hiring and what technologies are hot. Use your first meeting to establish rapport: talk about science or shared interests rather than jobs.

Prepare. Have a short, memorable 'smart pitch' ready to market your scientific background and accomplishments in simple terms a broad audience can understand, and in less than a minute. Also tailor your resumé or CV to match a company's needs or its job descriptions. If possible, send it directly to a scientist you've met in the company – it's much more likely to be read.

Above all, remember that all interactions are potentially important. Be cheerful, kind and helpful to everyone, not only managers! Show a passion for science. Plant many seeds, learn, become wiser today than yesterday and create more options. A positive-minded problem-solver with creative ideas, talents or expertise will be welcome at any door.