My First Step Into Industry Out of the Conference

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I felt all 48 synonyms in the thesaurus for “Anxiety” during the crash-and-burn last semester of my PhD. It was not just another step towards the next phase of my career, but also about finding a place to explore and learn aspects that support becoming an independent scientist. I was excited and scared as my defense date was looming, with days spent breaking nails over the keyboard and hardly any time for job searching.

Job searches are daunting: one, because for every job vacancy a company may receive hundreds of applications, and second, we get overwhelmed with the plethora of advice on job searching. Thankfully, the SOT Annual Meeting came as a breather and I took advantage of my attendance to interview for positions listed in the SOT Job Bank under the auspices of the SOT Career Resource and Development (CRAD) Committee.

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I hardly knew that this Annual Meeting would give me my first break into industry, because it wasn’t until the “Student/Postdoctoral Scholar Mixer” that I became aware of the Job Bank. So, without further delay, I explored the database and submitted my CV to interesting openings. Luckily, I heard back from ScitoVation about their postdoctoral position and interviewed with them at the Annual Meeting. I felt so relaxed and effective. I could explain my passion and vision creatively and also was at ease asking questions. This interview provided me with crucial information about the company’s objectives, responsibilities of the position, and outlook of the hiring manager thus allowing me to fine-tune myself for any subsequent interview processes.

When I look back to that time, I wonder what if I had missed that opportunity? So, don’t miss out on golden opportunities that scientific conferences offer. If you are nearing graduation or a postdoc and are job searching, remember to Set Yourself Up for Success Before You Go. Things that you can focus on are the following.

❑    Explore the “Job Bank” for potential openings. Apply and prepare yourself for potential interviews. If no positions match your skills at an interesting company, visit their ToxExpo booth to introduce yourself and your interest in future openings.

❑    Take advantage of open resources at SOT website to understand CV vs. Resume and create them objectively.

❑    Attend the Student/Postdoctoral Scholar Mixer to practice more casual and informative conversation.

❑    Build your network by asking friends and colleagues to introduce you to other scientists in your area of interest. Stop by their talks and posters to learn about their research and build a foundation for deeper level conversations.

❑    Visit and re-visit webinars of your interest. If you find a speaker with whom you want to connect, follow-up questions related to the webinar are a great and effective conversation starter.

It’s easy to get discouraged at so many stages of the job search. Having assets such as the Job Bank and networking opportunities at conferences provide a productive and convenient platform to make a good start.

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