CamAWiSE and MRC/LMB Career lunch
By Aldara B. Dios
Last week the MRC/LMB welcomed 3 alumni to share their diverse career journey to an audience of graduate students. From industry research scientist to policy, their engaging talks helped us to see the breadth of potential careers that are open to women in STEM.
Amanda Price enjoyed working at the bench during her graduate studies but was looking for a more fast-paced environment and career stability. That’s when she began to explore careers in industry.
In 2015 she moved to Astex Pharmaceuticals, a pioneer in fragment-based drug discovery and has continued to use her structural biology and biophysics skills to guide drug discovery projects through to late stage.
Her present role allows her to do the research she loves while working in teams and coordinating projects.
Her final advice was “Push through doors” to get to your end goal.
Yanlan Mao had a plan and designed her postdoc accordingly. She wanted independence and a question that excited her.
The key steps of her plan were:
- Apply for a fellowship as soon as possible
- Try to start a quick and safe proposal.
- Prepare yourself for independence
- Research your niche
- Have a new idea/tool/approach to give you a competitive edge
- And get exposure
- Write a research proposal as soon as possible even if you don’t feel ready.
Even with extensive planning, there are things to learn. For future group leaders she stressed the importance of applying to several institutions, not being afraid to ask for what you need, and to be sure all your key equipment is in place so you can hit the ground running.
To end her talk she gave the audience some advice about fellowships and leadership. Also, she shared the belief that a scientific career is a great option for parents thanks to its flexibility.
The path of Tanita Casci was different. She found that her Ph.D. was too narrow for her and wanted to try a different direction.
When the opportunity to work as Associate editor for Nature Review Genetics appeared she knew she had the perfect scientific background, even though her writing experience may not have been what they were looking for. But she didn’t let that hold her back. She carried this mantra throughout her career: leverage the skills you have and be open to learn the rest. As Associate Editor she learned discipline and to know when “good” is good enough.
When she started her next job as Research and Communications Manager of Glasgow Polyomics she didn’t have experience in budget management, grants management, line management or Omics technologies. But, she had the right transferable skills to add value to the position. And she learned how to help the company grow and motivate others.
At the beginning of her present post as Head of Research Policy at University of Glasgow, she didn’t any knowledge of research outside biomedicine, experience in the research excellence framework or leading administrative teams but she knew how to manage big projects and lead a large team. She has learned the art of persuasion and that there is no strategy without implementation.
What’s next for your career? That’s the question that the career lunch event tries to answer every year. The conclusion is always similar: There isn’t only one path, and there are plenty of options and opportunities outside academia.