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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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07/10/12
Finding Positions. Mentors, Preparation, and Networking
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Post-docs, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 12:42 pm

Recently, three people shared their job hunting stories
and results with me.  Each one has something to teach
us about technical careers and personal growth.

NETWORKING, PREPARATION AND BEING OPEN
AND WILLING TO INVESTIGATE ALL POSSIBILITIES
LD and I met at a conference where she wanted to explore
several things.  She was in an industrial post-doc outside
of the US and wondered how she might more broadly
seek, discover and land a position for which she would be
a valued contributor.  She indicated that she landed a full
time position in the company for which she had done
her post-doc.  TILT.  That is something people desiring
such a position need to hear.

“…I’d be happy to share my experience, though… [she is
way to modest!]
…I started letting my contacts within the company know that
I was looking for a new position.  [One thing led to another]
and they approached me to see if I would be interested in
applying for an opening.

Though I was … familiar with the work that the group did, I
still did a lot of background reading prior to the interview.  In
addition I went through as many examples of competency-
based interview questions as I could find.

…I think my experience highlights the importance of setting up
and maintaining a professional network.”

Why was I offered the position:  I knew the field, I was
enthusiastic about the work and I had experience with working
globally (fit) which is a key component of the job.”

MENTORING AND FINDING THE RIGHT WORDS
JZ came to me with a situation that meant she had
to make a change. 
She accepted the advice and has taken a risk in
accepting a temporary position outside of technical
and engineering fields.  Now, she has
a better idea what she would like to do and
she is applying for positions requiring a move.
Her challenge is not in helping make the decision,
in the confidence in herself to try something she
conceived herself and has passion for, it is what
words shall I say, and how do I bring this up with
my manager.

Call your personal mentor.  Ask for help.

If you do not have a mentor, find one or more than
one.  Know that each of us who feels successful
has someone they can confidently go to and ask
for help.  We may not always like the answer we
get.

WHAT WILL YOU GET FROM A POST-DOC
NS is one of my best students.  He was there when
I needed help and confidently offered it.

Now he tells me he has accepted a post-doctoral
position in an area of in vivo studies, where his
experience is with in vitro studies.  We are currently
arranging a time to discuss what he should be
doing next, for he is used to having others set his
focus
.

But honestly, I will be asking tough, searching
questions about
   the length of time in this position,
   his specific goals and how he will jointly establish
them with his new PI, and
   what does he know now that the position will
provide that he needs.
Each of these questions are not for me but for him
to have answers for himself and his family.  Please
notice the difference in his wants and my questions. 
This is what mentors can provide when there is
a shared commitment.

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