In the middle of 2016 Addgene started distributing a small but growing catalog of ready-made AAV and Lentiviral preps. This new Viral Service represents Addgene’s largest new initiative since we started distributing plasmids in 2004. We’ve already distributed over 500 viral samples to scientists all over the world. Now that the service is successfully launched, I would like to thank some of the people and organizations who helped us reach this milestone.
One of the less acknowledged perks of scientific and technical training is that these educational paths prepare you for a vast selection of career options. Scientists are certainly following many diverse career paths these days. A recent National Science Foundation study showed that 57% of PhDs in US Biomedical workforce will NOT go into “traditional” academic positions. More recently, I have been hearing exit survey data from postdoctoral programs in the Boston area that demonstrate that 85% of leaving postdocs pursue a career outside the traditional academic silo to tenured professor. Non-academia encompasses millions of choices including pharma, tech transfer, management consulting, science communication, policy and the diverse options in nonprofit science. No one list can ever encompass them all. We can’t designate non-academic jobs as “alternative” anymore.
Like graphing data, choosing controls, or mixing clear solutions—public speaking is skill that any scientist can learn. Any time you give a science talk, you are also giving a job talk. Even if not being interviewed, there could always be a future boss in the room, so it is a good idea to start thinking about public speaking early and often. Two of my jobs have indirectly resulted from someone seeing me speak in a non-interview setting. There are many resources on self-promotion (how hard it is for some people, especially women), visibility (how to get it, especially if introverted ), and networking (how to get people to remember you). What better way to accomplish all of these things naturally than to give a dynamite presentation? To that end, let’s chat about giving science talks and how to make them serve you well. The happy byproduct might just be a career opportunity.
Having never been to China myself, I was pleased to be able to participate when the organizers of the Canton Nucleic Acids Forum (CNAF) 2015 conference invited me to attend and speak about Addgene’s experience helping scientists share plasmids, especially those of the CRISPR variety (see slides from my talk below). Largely organized by Dmitry Samarsky, and a very welcoming team from China’s Ribobio, the illustrious speaker list attracted a host of sponsors based all over the world. With three Nobel Prize winners, one NIH Director and a co-founder of BGI-China presenting, it’s no wonder it was attended by over 300 Chinese scientists eager to hear current findings in nucleic acid science. I was delighted to see that the majority of attendees were scientists still working at the bench. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk to so many scientists who were potential Addgene requestors and depositors. China is in one of the top 10 countries in number of plasmid requests from Addgene.
Expanding your network of relationships early and often is the most effective tactic a scientist in training can adopt to ensure opportunities in the future. Studies show that the majority of job offers arise as a result of existing professional (and personal) relationships. However, most job seekers will and should apply for jobs posted online as one part of their job search. This is especially true of scientists seeking a first job after the academic bench. Utilizing existing relationships as part of the job application process can dramatically increase the chances of being seriously considered for an open position.