by Benjamin Kistinger, MS, Doctoral Candidate, St. John’s University, Mid-Atlantic SOT Regional Chapter Junior Student Representative
For graduate students, life comes at you fast. After many years balancing coursework, teaching assistantships, research, comprehensive exams, thesis writing, and the eventual defense, students find themselves no longer asking about biochemical pathways, but are instead asking about career pathways. While academic institutions do a great job in training their students with the skills and knowledge they need to graduate, there are a number of skills that don’t get the same emphasis put on them. These “soft skills,” so to speak, are a highly valued commodity in the workplace, regardless of whether in academia, industry, or government.
AAAS Director of Professional Development and Career Services Alexander Torres discusses how graduate students can prepare for the workplace environment.
The Mid-Atlantic Society of Toxicology (MASOT) Regional Chapter Fall Meeting is always a fantastic opportunity for Mid-Atlantic graduate students to come together and share their research during poster sessions and listen to career talks by eminent toxicologists during a networking luncheon. In an effort to continue their ongoing support of their student constituents, the MASOT Programming Committee invited Mr. Alexander Torres, Director of Professional Development and Career Services at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), to discuss how AAAS is helping graduate students develop into well-rounded individuals ready for the workplace environment.
Mr. Torres was kind enough to conduct a post-meeting Career Development session at the 2017 MASOT Fall Meeting. The audience was composed of >30 students attending the fall meeting, as well as faculty and any other members who chose to stay for the session. In his presentation, Mr. Torres told us about the AAAS online Career Development Center and the courses available that assist graduate students transitioning into the workforce in STEM fields. The courses offered are online asynchronous classes that are about 1 hour long and cover topics such as “Career Pathways” and “Successful Grant Writing.” Courses are available to the general public for a fee and to AAAS members at a reduced rate. Academic institutions also can purchase courses and course keys as a bundle for their students, making it easy for them to develop the skills they might not have a chance to develop while trying to complete all of their program requirements. These courses even offer a certificate at the end of the course bundle completion—a great addition to any resume!
The brief presentation by Mr. Torres was well-received by the group. It also was very clear from his talk and discussion that Mr. Torres and AAAS are very dedicated to the career development of early career scientists in the STEM fields and that course participation might be very helpful for preparing new STEM graduates for employment. Anyone interested in learning more about these courses is invited to visit the AAAS website.