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Undergrad advice

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Undergrad advice

Postby AM » Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:31 pm

If you're interested in nanotechnology (and since you're at UNC), you might want to check out the Nano and Biotechnology Symposium at Duke. It started last week, and continues through Monday and Tuesday.

http://cierd.pratt.duke.edu/Our_projects/nanosymp_agenda.htm
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Undergrad advice

Postby Emil Chuck » Mon Apr 03, 2006 11:59 am

Sorry I didn't catch this one a lot sooner. I'd also recommend sitting in on the CIERD symposium if you could do it. Outside of that, since you are at UNC, get onto the emailing list for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Many of their programs are free for graduate and postdoctoral students. There are many biotech conferences going on.

Also coming up is the NIEHS Career Fair for Ph.D.'s. I would also get involved in the UNC chapter of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineers (?). I know one of the people involved with that organization (who is/was a Science Careers campus rep).
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The thirds rule

Postby Tony » Mon Apr 03, 2006 8:43 pm

Luke, you sound like a really brilliant student. In that case, the odds are in your favor no matter which career track you choose. However, here is my advice about grad school in the sciences:

1: If you are in the top 1/3 of your class, you are fine. You will have a decent shot at a tenure-track job and are almost guaranteed to find a decent industrial job after five years of grad school and a reasonably-short post-doc. Of course, you would probably also be a successful doctor/lawyer/MBA/etc, and would make more money sooner in those fields, but if science is what you love, do it.

2: If you are in the middle third, the road will be much rougher. Both the PhD and the post-doc stint will likely be much longer and much less certain. Tenure-track jobs are a long-shot. Unless you are passionately devoted to science, there are probably better career options.

3: If you are in the bottom third, quit with your masters, run like hell, and do anything else which can pay the bills without driving you insane.

Compare this risk with entering medical school, where 90% of people who enter finish.


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Undergrad advice

Postby Kelly » Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:09 pm

I think Dave's post hit the nail right on the head: young people in PhD programs need to recognize very very early that a science career needs a good deal of planning both in the lab and out of it.

There can be a true disconnect between what you do in your PhD program on a day to day basis and what you need to do to get a job and avoid the pipeline.

You have a leg up: even as an undergraduate you already see the issues. Starting "tooling up" now for that job and for getting the job.

I would do my PhD again. I would however spend much more time on creating my own network as opposed to relying on my advisors as my sole source of outreach. Things would have been much easier for me much sooner if I had put as much emphasis on the CAREER (i.e., career development) as opposed to just the science (working at the bench) in SCIENCE CAREER.

In short, start to balance very early career development with the science. you can be the best scientist in the world and not be able to contribute if you don't develop the skills to get yourself a job doing it.
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