Starting your STEM Career No.4 Final Steps
The first three pieces in our employment series addressed the practical aspects of seeking employment. In the last piece of this series we offer some final advice on seeking a role in science.
In this month’s practical piece, we consider steps to take if you want to change role and how to best use your background to pivot into a different scientific area.
Our practical piece this month offers some tips on first steps.
Graduating and entering the career market can be an exciting time. You have your qualification and are ready to enter the job market. As it is also a time of change, it may also be a time of fear and uncertainty for you.
Remember this fear is also an indication that you are in an exciting time. In the end it is just the start.
Enjoy this period of challenge and have confidence in your abilities. Arming yourself with knowledge of the roles and industry you are entering and working through the preparation, skills and networking pieces we addressed previously, will all help you better navigate through this.
Preparing and being resilient with next steps will get you on the working ladder. When looking at roles you may feel partially qualified for, don’t be deterred if an employer says you need 1-2 years’ experience. It is important to be aware that the skills that you have attained throughout your qualification are transferable across other scientific areas.
As a scientist, you can gain experience from a diverse range of industries in science. You are not restricted to the discipline you are qualified. Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules. Many people may have a similar qualification but they are not you.
Through your experiences you have unique qualities and soft skills to bring to a role and demonstrating this at interview will ultimately help you find your fit.
Pivoting in Science
Occasionally, as with any role you may feel you need a change. There are many different reasons why you may feel the need to change direction, some of which are discussed below.
It is vital to remember that having a science qualification is a strong foundation for so many scientific roles.
Before doing anything in relation to your current position, it is important to step back and begin to get a plan together. This plan should re-visit the steps in this series such as preparation, identifying gaps, networking and being brave!
The change you desire can be addressed in many ways. Often as you grow as a scientist you may want your career to grow and change. There can be opportunities within the company you are in, some examples include a move from routine work to project management or a move from routine analysis to product development, or a move from internal science-based work to external client facing scientific work.
Alternatively, you may enjoy the specific work you are doing in the discipline you are working in but not in the industry you are in for example many microbiologists or biotechnologists move across areas such as academia, pharma and technology for new challenges.
The benefit here are your transferable skills.
You don’t have to begin at the bottom in a new role as such a move enables you draw on the strengths and skills you have acquired.
Ultimately, you may want a complete change still within science. Again, it may not be obvious at first but generally you will have transferable skills for example skills utilised by a chemical analyst for technology companies are directly comparable to skills used by a quality analyst scientist in a medical device or pharmaceutical company. It is important to identify and communicate these skills to possible new employers at interview.
Regardless of any change of direction that you make, your science qualification is a strong foundation and is applicable to a wide range of careers including quality, business, research, academia, pharma, pathology etc. It is worth exploring all avenues and execute these changes with belief and confidence! Remember as always, there is support in the wider community via your college, WITS or LinkedIn where scientists will be happy to help you on your journey. Good Luck!!!
For more information and advice please look out for registration to attend our WITS careers event on Saturday 16 February 2019 at Science Gallery Dublin.
More information is on the WITS website at https://witsireland.com/news/stem-healthcare-careers/.
Written by: Susan Treacy