dinsdag 20 juli 2010

Transferrable skills

About being a writer, project coordinator and scientist

During a career as a scientist, you develop a lot of so-called 'transferable skills': not only do you learn how to do labwork, write and read papers, but also (sometimes without noticing) you learn how to lead projects, manage people, organize, teach, explain our research, and be creative and flexible. These transferable skills, and their importance, are becoming more prominent to me now I’m getting  involved in different things next to doing research.

First, I became a writer by for a popular science blog (sciencepalooza). I have always found writing in simple terms rather difficult, but after having written only a small number of blogs, I started to adapt to it. Now it takes me less and less time to get an idea, work it out and post it. Even during a busy conference, I found some time to write about interesting lectures...

Second, in participating in the Academische Jaarprijs with a team from our department, I have the task to be the coordinator of the project. I ended up being the contact person for the team-members participating and all secondary parties involved, and being responsible for keeping overview of the many different sub-projects we are doing. Because I wanted to be part of everything and keep an eye on all activities, the hours I was putting in were increasing and I was getting more and more stressed. So it was quickly learned that delegating jobs and trusting your team-members is actually the most important job of a project-coordinator.

Last but not least, I’m still a postdoc, so I have to keep my projects in the lab running (and actually working), to teach, to write grants, to visit conferences and to supervise students. To be able to do that there are two more very important skills I’m achieving more and more: multi-tasking and being efficient.

I think the experience I got as a scientist in the past 6 years, eg. to be flexible, to work together with different types of people (sometimes difficult ones) and to report about my work frequently made me able to adapt to these other functions quickly. So remember: if you doubt your skills at any point during your career, you probably have developed these skills already and it’s just a matter of refreshment!

- This blog was first posted on PCDI's community blog -