UW Graduate School

October 5, 2017

Setting Yourself Up For Career Success

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As we head into a new season, it is a good time to take a moment to assess where things stand regarding your career goals. What are your achievements of the past couple of months; of the past year? What skills do you want to hone in the coming months? What kinds of careers are exciting for you right now?

Last week, the Office of Postdoc Affairs welcomed a new cohort of postdoc fellows to the UW community. During the orientation session, we heard from champions of the UW postdoc experience on ways we, as a large university, can help you. These included Dr. John Slattery from UW School of Medicine; Emma Williams from Office of the Ombud; Catherine Basl from UW Career & Internship Center; Dr. Stacey Long-Genevese from the Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS), and Dr. Karla-Luise Herpoldt, Co-Chair of the UW Postdoc Association (UWPA).

We also kick-started a workshop, Making the Most of your Postdoc Experience, highlighting tools and strategies to jump feet-first into your postdoc experience and set you up for success in your next career moves. While your research experiences will be driven by your research project and mentor, we encourage you to spend some time exploring non-bench skills and diverse career options (academic vs. non-academic; public sector; industry; non-profits; entrepreneurship; science communication; etc.). Here are a few tips:

1. Take the time to create an Individual Development Plan, identifying short-term and mid-term goals for your research, your career, and your personal life. Discuss your plans and goals with your primary research mentor and a larger group of mentors who will support your growth.
2. Plan the steps necessary to achieve independence. What skills and strengths do you have and where do you still need to grow? What contribution do you want to make — whether it is your research direction or your career pathway or both?
3. Build your network so you can explore diverse career options. Try out some informational interviews based on even distant connections to learn more about what work-life is like in a variety of sectors. Ask these informants how they got started, and what skills or experiences they recommend cultivating during your postdoc years.

The UW Office of Postdoctoral Affairs has many resources to support all aspects of your postdoc experience. Join us to build on these insights and others at the next professional development event on October 16th (3:30–5 p.m., Health Sciences Building T531). Dr. Keith Micoli, Assistant Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs at New York University School of Medicine will be presenting a workshop entitled Beyond the End of the Road: Career Advice From the Wilderness. There, he will share lessons learned and best practices gleaned from his experiences leading the NYU Scientific Training Enhancement Program (NYU-STEP), including the importance of individual career development plan implementation and the identification and cultivation of skills necessary for informed career choices. It’s never too early, or too late, to start thinking about your next career step! We look forward to talking with you at this upcoming event.


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