Finding the right fit: careers in biomedical and life sciences

Thursday, January 29, 2015
Avrum Gotlieb
Professor Avrum Gotlieb

How do you best plan for a career in biomedical and life sciences? How do you have a successful training experience, search for a job and establish yourself in a fulfilling career?

Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP) Professor Avrum Gotlieb has been answering these questions with his Career Development Seminar Series: Strategies and Tips for a Successful Career in Biomedical and Life Sciences. His goal is to provide LMP students with the tools to plan ahead for a productive career in academic and non-academic settings.

The first seminars, launched in October 2014, included four interactive workshops targeted at LMP Master’s students.  These sessions included presentations by Dr. David Sealey on how to search for non-academic jobs, and Andy Torr who spoke about effective science communication.

“This type of program is important because students don’t have enough information about pathways for career development,” said Gotlieb. “The word ‘fit’ comes up a lot – it’s important for students to find the right fit with a supervisor, lab, project, department and institution. They need to understand how to navigate the system to achieve success.”

A second series that focused on LMP PhD students recently concluded, and Gotlieb plans to offer more seminars in the future. The seminars covered many topics including how to network, how to work on a team, how to develop a resume versus a CV, how to communicate, and how to effectively choose a mentor, lab and job.

Gotlieb stressed that PhD students need to consult with their supervisors and mentors and develop a written career plan. Students can then measure their progress and adjust their plan.

“The career seminars were very informative and exposed students to many possible future career directions,” said LMP Master’s student Nevena Vicic. “I really enjoyed the non-academic career seminar. Not only did the speaker introduce us to careers available in industry, but also educated students on how to effectively market yourself and present your resume to future employers.”

Recognizing a need to engage with students early in their career development, Gotlieb, founding Chair of the Department, has had a longtime interest in preparing students for the future. In 2003, he worked with the American Society of Investigative Pathology to produce the first of many well-received booklets on career development.

“I’ve given career development seminars and lectures at international meetings. In my own experience, it would have been nice to be much better informed about how to make the best choices as I went through my own training.”

In addition to the LMP seminars, Gotlieb recently published a book called Planning a Career in Biomedical and Life Sciences; Making Informed Choices. He hopes to encourage students to proactively plan their careers and recognize opportunities at each stage of their training by being well-informed and seeking appropriate mentorship.

“Students need to have a plan to meet the challenges of the life sciences and biomedical job market,” said Gotlieb. “I hope that our interactive seminars and book will help students navigate their way to success in academia, industry, business and any other life science-related profession.”