Preparing for an upcoming workshop and one of the topics
I am proposing is “Post doctoral appointments and
Internships.” Why are these two combined, you
Both are temporary positions and both provide
incredible experience, skills and connections
for a more permanent position in fields of
In fact, it is strong advice for nearly anyone who
is without a position to consider moving into
an internship position role, or its equivalent, to show that
you are active, continuously learning and employable.
None other than Tom Friedman wrote about the
importance of working as an intern in today’s economy,
because the “new economy realizes that colleges don’t
teach skills that employers expect and are looking for.”
“Experience, rather than degree, is the proxy for skill...”
Internships provide that.
As situations dictate, paid internships are fewer and there
can be many applicants. Big organizations report 50-100 per
position. So, many are unpaid. And wherever the internship
exists, organizations desire interns to help them get things
done and for interns to add value.
Alexnyk summarizes some decision factors, considerations
of where to apply and other preparation ideas of what to think
through for internships, including:
- apply 6 months in advance
- referrals improve your chances
- know why you want to intern at the organization, why it
will help your career growth
- understand you are there to add value and gain important
skills in that process
Adding value can be making the coffee, listening to presentations,
(and not publicly asking questions; but privately taking notes
and seeking clarifications), and being willing to ask is there
anything I can do to help.
In the your interview, prepare by doing your homework
on the web-page, Linkedin and Glassdoor, have questions
like the company philosophy on interns, how many interns
have there been and will they plan for, who is the
supervisor, and what are the working conditions and
Is a board member in an entrepreneurial effort different from
a sponsor, mentor or trainer?
This is an instructive entry for people interviewing for
start-up company technical positions, as well. [Ask who
is on the board of advisers and board of directors…]
We provided insight on the roles mentors, sponsors, coaches
and teachers provide recently. Start-ups need board members,
earlier, rather than later. A person can be on a board of
advisers, as I find myself on. In this case, board members
- help navigate the unknown
- come from different backgrounds
- communicate effectively
- seek the truth and relate things even if they are not favored
Board members have an added formal commitment if
they are “directors” for they have fiduciary responsibilities.
Eron Laniado emphasized the importance of
1. independent board members- no financial connections
2. familiarity with current and next stage of development
3. experience in needed areas
4. relationships really matter
Al Sklover brought up serious and relevant items in his
blog column about the importance and legal interpretations
in an offer letter for a position.
1. A signed, dated offer letter is a legal contract between
an organization and an employee.
2. What is stated in the letter and what is unstated about
the terms and conditions is important, including:
“at will” employment, contractual arrangements, deliverables,
probationary periods, what happens after the probationary
period, salary, starting date, position title, benefits
starting date and more.
3. A restatement of terms might be in order if items are
specifically negotiated and agreed before signing.
4. Punctuation inside the cover letter can allow different
interpretations. So, multiple reading can be important.
Al offers valuable checklists for those interested in
In a tight, very competitive job market, it does not help
if you start late. In addition, some recent graduates who
start late seek an easy way to achieve their first position.
[STRATEGIES ARE NUMBERED.]
Recently I met with AG who was an assistant professor
in residence at a university. You know an “assistant professor
in residence” is an academic position usually for no longer
than two years. An assistant professor, to distinguish the
difference, can be for as long as five years without tenure.
[UCLA academic personnel office does a particularly nice
job of defining the different “in residence positions”.]
He came seeking a “lifeline” in pursuing what to do next
in his career. The first pass review initially asked for what position
he sought. He had created a partial CV and was not having
success in getting interviews in research institutes and university
applications. He responded that he was willing to take any
position. Well, the “ambiguous” CV will reveal a lack of
focus and is one good reason why his CV will not be effective.
He did not like the frank yet honest appraisal.
He went off to seek another opinion.
REALITY SETS IN
Two months later he contacted me again asking for more
help. He was not getting positive responses from his document
applications. He also asked the appropriateness of applying for positions
not requiring PhD research experience.
So we explained, it is a tight market and your resume needs to
show a very close fit. Places will not hire a PhD to do a MS
position’s work. PhDs will move at the first opportunity. The
move will not help the department or the individual. Further, 
CVs are geared more for academic positions and academic post
docs. They are stylized in a particular way.
heading of CV
Resumes are written to be more targeted for specific positions,
they are shorter, they must reflect a match of your skills to their
needs and it helps to use specific keywords and readable form.
The next version was sent asking for comments. It dropped
many technical terms and listed EXPERIENCE and his recent
teaching immediately after the heading. That approach misses key
attractions, except for certain teaching positions. There was no
OBJECTIVE or keyword filled QUALIFICATIONS that will
get some traction, I commented. 
The listing of some techniques on the bottom of the first and
second page resembles an MS resume. 
That comment made an impression.
Things were shaping up after we went through the review
and brought in a comparable resume of someone who
recently interviewed at a hand full of places and started
a one year post doc after a successful series of interviews.
The very clear organization with keywords in context in
an easy-to-read design made an impression. The review
then went after what seemed to be missing from the resume…
valuable contracted characterization work, clear skills
working with challenging samples and conditions
that required creativity and other important skills he
It is very hard work to create an attractive and compelling
resume. When we are faced with other deadlines and
pressures, it is possible to have priorities get shifted and
long term career issues put off to satisfy short term
satisfiers. I urge you to start earlier and raise the priority
level of career management goals as you get closer to
their deadlines. Resume and cover letter writing is one
of the critical ones.
We met last week to talk about planning for an international
conference TT will attend next month. He seeks to speak
with a leader in the field of nanotechnology applications in
cancer therapies at the meeting.
So we considered completing a IDP Individual Development
Plan for Biomedical fields, as TT is a post-doc in pharmaceutical
sciences. This is a personal technical document that puts down
on paper (computer is more likely) goals and accomplishments
during the last (approximate) year, including formal summaries,
proposals written, ideas generated and scoped out for future
proposals, presentations, meetings attended in-person and virtually,
technical expertise recently obtained and used to achieve results,
clinical activity, teaching, mentoring and leadership activity inside
and outside your field, including training and courses attended and
led, and service.
Part 2 scopes out a comprehensive plan for TT’s foreseeable year.
It includes research project goals, anticipated publications, patents,
presentations, proposals, workshops, meetings and training.
Longer range goals follow with an informal “gap analysis” and timeline
for accomplishing your goals. If there are issues that might limit
or require further work with help from others, it will help to
list as well.
Then, we reviewed TT’s Linkedin.com profile to see if it strongly
makes a similar case. In his case, it did not, so we suggested
several revisions that moves his Internet presence from one
more like a doctoral candidate to a full-fledged post-doctoral
researcher with accomplishments, results and strong breadth
and depth. We are seeing the Linkedin profile complementing
individual’s resume while containing keywords it also identifies
group affiliations and online contributions which are generally
outside of what is contained in resumes.
So, it makes sense to include the Linkedin.com profile in the
resume heading and the resume file, stored in a cloud location,
linked to the Linkedin.com profile document.
Some small updates to the resume/CV were suggested before we
moved into pre-meeting preparation. We talked about going
through lists of attendees and presenters and people who are in
the speaker’s group alumni. He did not know any. Fortunately, I
did have a connection with CK. So, we made a plan for TT to reach
out to CK and ask for a referral/connection at the meeting.
Then we practiced delivering TT’s introduction and elevator
speech to the leader in the field. The first attempt was rather
informal, using the person’s first name. This is a clear no-no.
Let Dr. “Iwould Liketomeet” know you will keep it formal until
Dr. “Liketomeet” asks you to be informal. [This can be a noticeable
turn off for some to be too quick to be informal.]
It is noteworthy to mention that a “warm introduction” through
someone in the person’s group helps. We formally practiced
strategies for making contact, introductions, what to bring to
the meeting, what to wear, and how to follow up after the meeting.
Other class members have recently attended meetings and
reported similar experiences. So, these strategies and
tactics are tested and proven to be effective.
These are networking interviews, information and mock
interviews that are part of the “before segment” of the interviewing
Yes, there is such a thing as interviewing humor. It is not
laughing at interviewees, but laughing at the situation we all face.
Tip of the hat to Joe Queenan WSJ, June 1-2, 2013 p. C11
Q: What is your greatest weakness?
Imagine asking George Washington or Susan B Anthony,
What is your greatest weakness? What kind of an answer
do you think you would get out of George Patton…
A: I am completely invulnerable except when exposed to kryptonite…
Q: Describe a difficult situation at work and how you handled it?
A: My boss had two sets of books, and the Feds wanted to see the real
numbers. no way I was going behind Big Al’s back. So I told them
I don’t see nothin’, I don’t hear nothin’, I don’t know nothin’
(Al Capone’s CPA)
Q: What sort of compensation are you looking for?
A: Booty would be nice. Swag. Booty. What have you?
Ill-gotten gains would also be okay. (Genghis Kan)
Several others in the article.
Science, technology and engineering are many times concerned
about holding patent protection, infringing on someone else’s
patent claims or having a competitor infringe on their existing
Patent trolls, where NPE non-productive entities hold rights to
patents and litigate against firms when they believe patent claims
have been infringed, provides a challenge to harm US manufacturers
and technological progress.
Ashby Jones summarized recent proposals to roll out executive orders
and seek legislation in June 5 WSJ (subscription required to view).
Two items of note in the article:
1- there is a 6-fold increase in “troll suits” from ‘06 to ‘12
2- legislative action, which is believed quite important, could have
unintended consequences for universities and research institutes who
have troll-like characteristics in that they license patents, rather
than bring products to market using patents.
University and tech transfer offices of institutes need to pay close
attention where this goes.
HT and I have known each other for a few years and collaborated
on some projects successfully. He is looking for a position
and seems overwhelmed with daily pressures.
He seeks a position that will last for a decade or more and
provide a sense of security for himself and his family. Is that
realistic in today’s economy, workforce demands and personal
Recently, “On Point” presented a segment on “tours of duty”
employment cycles based on a Reid Hoffman HBR article.
While this may not fit everyone’s picture, it is a reality for
several fields and locations.
It is a mindset that “freelancers” share. In order to be
successful one needs to adopt an entrepreneurial spirit
about your job search. Douglas Rushkoff has written an
interesting book about some of the forces that generate this
reality in “Present Shock” where HT and others seem “overwound”
with too many pressures.
Rushkoff points out that
1. we have lost the sense of our life’s narrative and are pushed
into many pressures in the moment– work, car, rent, daily events,
2. we are constantly interrupted by various communication
media and find we are at the beckon and call of ever changing
things at the same time– constant needs. (He calls this digiphrenia.)
3. we relate to global trends (unemployment, advertized “happiness”,
dominance of ‘branding’, loss of beginnings and endings, etc.). This
leads to despair and loss of hope. We need to define our separate
agenda and purpose.
It is hard to separate ourselves from the tornado of effects
and become grounded. Reassess what steps to take.
Suggestion: Do a personal self assessment and pursue
mentors to establish goals and create a narrative. It may
involve a tour of duty. Worth considering.
INSTRUMENTATION FOR BIOPROCESS, CLINICAL
DIAGNOSIS, LABWARE, LIFE SCIENCE, AUTOMATION,
Practically every field of science and engineering
employs instruments and equipment, probes and
measurements. So it is more than helpful to catch
what is happening in the top instrumentation
enterprises.[Now this does not mean smaller firms are
any less significant.]
Ann Thayer reported in C&EN Apr 29, 2013 p.10
the trend that the top 25 firms merged and acquired
much of their “growth”, but significantly many in this
group had to adapt different cultures when combining
smaller and larger, clinical and process, hardware
and software. (Like her quote: “Culture is the mortar
between the bricks.” BTW, searches do not reveal
this article, but give a 2011 review.)
MICROSCOPY AT THE MOLECULAR LEVEL
FRET (Forster resonance energy transfer)
MICROSCOPY REVEALS DYNAMICS
Smaller than the wavelength limit of classical
microscopy can be interrogated on systems of
proteins, DNA, and lipids. So work with nano
particles and biological systems is certainly
CHEMICAL RESEARCH INTO ORPHAN DISEASES
I was blown away by a wonderful Esselen Award
talk by co-recipients Mike Gelb and Frank
Turacek on Lysosomal Storage Disorders that they
have developed amazing diagnostic tests for
infants. This class is one of many reported in L.
Jarvis’s report on the progress in developing
effective therapies. If this kind of work is one of
your passions, I encourage you to see this status
FIBER LASERS FOR MICROSURGERY
Femtosecond fiber lasers are being used to cut,
drill and ablate in corneas, cataracts, midear,
spine, cosmetic, dentistry, cardiovascular
and oncology surgeries. With increasing cost
performance trade-offs an amazing number of
rare earth doped fibers being developed are
described in Marie Freebody’s April, 2013