There is always great value in learning the insights of those who have gone through graduation and the job search. Every year Career Services gathers advice from recent graduates about job searching and making the most of their time at Penn. Below are some of the suggestions of 2015 alumni with doctoral degrees in STEM fields.
On The Value of Networking:
“If in the sciences, my best advice is to take every opportunity to network at conferences, amongst professors and amongst your peers. Networking is a very intimidating term, but honestly all it means is taking opportunities to have casual conversations, to shake someone’s hand or to make an informal introduction. People will remember you months if not years later. It does help.”
On Identifying Postdoc Opportunities:
“Initially, I researched labs within my field of interest, and contact the PIs to enquire if post-doctoral positions were available. This is usually a good method, especially when applied well in advance of your planned graduation date.”
“I started looking for a job two years before I thought I would graduate, which was helpful in forcing me to figure out what I actually wanted to do. I went to conferences and used poster sessions to talk to people about their labs and start thinking about which labs I might be interested in, as well as talking to PIs. I essentially got my job at a conference.”
On Making Use of Career Services:
“The thing that helped me the most in my job search was going to all the seminars and events that were organized by Career Services. Each event contained valuable nuggets of information on how to successfully network, prepare cover letters and resumes, use LinkedIn, prep for interviews, etc., that were extremely helpful in making me a ‘complete package’ for employers. I also took full advantage of the job fairs offered by Career Services. Though I wasn’t necessarily interested in most of the companies, forcing myself to research companies and get comfortable with speaking to people at booths was extremely helpful in furthering my networking skills. Lastly, I went to Career Services for help on my cover letter and CV. Very convenient, very quick yet comprehensive and illuminating. Despite not having extremely good publications (the de facto ‘currency’ of scientists, unfortunately), I was still able to land 3 job offers: two post-doc positions in academia and one very competitive post-doctoral fellowship at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Thank you Career Services!”
(You’re Welcome. We are Glad To Help!)
The Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Fellow advising team at Career Services coordinates services including individualized advising, programs and workshops, and online resources especially for STEM PhDs. If you are a scientist looking for advice during your time at Penn, please check in with us – we are eager to support you in your career and professional development.