woensdag 1 december 2010

New year resolutions

A new year is approaching rapidly, so it’s time for New Year resolutions. If any of yours sound like 'Finishing my PhD' or 'Finding a new postdoc', then take a minute to think about what kind of career you want to have. Will you continue along the obvious route of doing a post-doc, struggling to get grants and finding one of the scarce research positions at university, or will you step out of 'real science' and move into industry, policy-making, or something completely different?

If you’re in doubt about your future career, or if you’re curious about what else you could do with a PhD in the life sciences, a good thing you could do for 2011 is to register straightaway for PCDI's Postdoc Retreat. In just 3 days, you will get an almost complete overview of all the possible careers within and outside the academic world. You will meet 80 - 100 other PhD students and postdocs who have similar questions. You can attend workshops from qualified trainers who will show you how to give better presentations, how to discover your transferrable skills, and how to write that perfect grant- or job application. And you can enjoy talking to people with a PhD in the life sciences who followed diverse career paths after graduating.
Last year I attended the retreat and returned to work completely energized (read my report of the retreat). For me, those 3 days were a confirmation of something that I had only partly realized at that time: my future (heart?) did not lie in the academic world. In last year’s forum discussion about 'our impact on society', I realized that this was it: I wanted to have an impact on society MY way! And I knew that I had to take action to reach my goals.

Now, almost a year later, I have taken my first steps in a career in science communication: I started writing for a popular science blog (Sciencepalooza, see also here) and I took part in the Academische Jaarprijs, a competition for the translation of science to a broad audience (see www.genenkraken.nl and my blog entries about this subject).

By being active in these fields next to doing my postdoc work, people noticed that I was truly interested in a career in science communication. This has recently led to a job offer to carry out science-communication-activities for a new European research institute being built in Groningen. So from January onwards, I will be a postdoc for 50% of the time, and working in science communication for the other 50%. All this would not have happened if I had not decided to take charge of my career last year!

At Postdoc Retreat 2010, I was able to 'Put my career in perspective'. Will you do the same in 2011? Check out the retreat’s program for 2011, read the summary of last year’s retreat and sign up to find out that 'Your Future is Your Choice!'

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