Advice for Graduate Students of all Scientific Stripes and Stages

For this week’s Worldwide Wednesday post, here are some links with helpful advice for graduate students of all scientific stripes and stages.

Rookie class:

For most of you bright-eyed incoming grad students, choosing a thesis advisor will ultimately come down to research interest. Some of will you will go through lab rotations, which serve as 1) an audition, and 2) to determine if your interests align. But don’t forget to consider the intangibles: Are your working philosophies compatible? Will you integrate seamlessly in the lab/research group? What are the completion rates and times in said lab? And where do graduates end up after completing their thesis?

Mentor selection, of course, does not end there. At some point, you will also have to choose your thesis committee and a “good committee is worth it’s weight in gold.” I happen to agree. Unfortunately, in my observations, thesis committees are often underused and undervalued. Choosing a good committee will be important for your graduate career as they serve not only as advisors, but also as advocates and the beginning of your professional network. (You can read more of the Twitter conversation about selecting a thesis committee here)

The “in your prime” years:

It’s never too early to start thinking about your career after grad school. It’s true, believe me. That’s right, I’m talking to you, “good-data-generatin’, conference-travelin’,” excited third years. Not to be a killjoy, but it’s a poorly kept secret that jobs of the academic, tenure-track variety are getting harder to come by. Nature’s Soapbox Science series on revamping the PhD (PhDelta) is a good place to start reading about what you can do to make yourself more “marketable” and “flexible” to a changing job market. These pieces in Development and ASBMB list non-research and private sector jobs available to science PhD’s, of which you might not have been aware. Lastly, there’s the Individual Development Plan, which is a “new Web-based career-planning tool created to help graduate students and postdocs in the sciences define and pursue their career goals.“ I haven’t had a chance to really explore this web tool yet, but it’s worth a look see.

Grizzled (and maybe disgruntled) veterans:

And all of you with one foot out the door…how many times have you talked your way out of doing an experiment? Well, don’t talk yourself out of applying for jobs , because, well you know, “No one ever got a job by not applying.” And while on the topic of applying for jobs, if you haven’t started a CV yet, what’s the hold up? Here’s a crash course primer to what should be included in your CV (hint: Everything)–bearing in mind that CV’s will need to be tailored for each job application.

How to turn your CV into a Resume.


Good luck!

Related Reading:

CVs/Covering Letters

So you want to be a…

Nonacademic Careers for BioScientists

There is life after the bench