Top Transferable Skills You Get From A Science Degree
As a science graduate, it's useful to know the transferable skills you get from a science degree. This applies whether you are a fresh undergraduate or want to make a career transition after your PhD. To work outside of academia, it gives you an edge if you are aware of what skills you can take into other organisations. Once you are aware of these skills, you can articulate these in various stages of the job application process. Then you can identify how your skills match those described in job descriptions. You can then match the keywords on those job descriptions to words you use on your CV. This will enable you to articulate yourself effectively in interviews by describing how your science degree is valuable. Every science degree will give you a different set of transferable skills.
However, there are some broad skill sets that anyone with a science background will have. It can be difficult to identify what these are and how they apply to areas outside of academia. To help you get started, here are 3 examples of transferable skills you will have as a science graduate:
Almost all organisations need employees who know how to analyse data sets. This is becoming increasingly important in our data-driven world. As someone with a science degree, you will have worked with data throughout your undergraduate studies. This would be even more intense if you pursued postgraduate education. The analytical skills you develop are important to acknowledge as part of your transferable skill set. Functions within industry and the corporate world are introducing more roles that require skills in data analysis.
For example, within Human Resources, you will see functions popping up like ‘People Analytics’. They use employee data to analyse things like employee satisfaction or aid in future workforce planning. Within a function like Marketing, you will of course use data to get consumer insights. A finance department will always need employees who are comfortable working with data. Rather than just being comfortable with numbers, having a science degree gives you the ability to draw conclusions from data. In the workplace, the point of data analytics within the functions mentioned is to ultimately inform decision making.
Let’s take a Biology graduate as an example here. You will have to understand biological systems like the human body, or ecosystems if you did Ecology modules. This involves understanding scientific processes within these systems. You also need to understand the bigger picture of how the system runs, inter-dependencies, and any potential conflicts. A parallel can be drawn here with understanding how an organisation runs. Any organisation is essentially operating as a system. How complex this is will vary according to factors like company size.
During your science degree, your brain has been trained to understand complex systems. You can use this to show your ability to understand complex ways of working or how an organisation runs. If you worked for a global pharmaceutical company, you are likely to be in a complex environment. There would be many inter-dependencies between various teams. It is crucial for employees in this environment to understand the bigger picture of how these inter-dependencies work. For example, knowing what teams are important to communicate and collaborate with. It can help you understand how the company is structured, which can help if the company structure changes a lot.
Make sure you recognise all the different ways you put your ideas out there as a scientist. Written communication is a skill that is necessary. Writing academically can train you to communicate in a particular style. This style can suit roles outside of academia like science policy or publishing. In other roles you may have to adapt your style. If you've had the opportunity to talk to non-scientists about your work, this is an extremely valuable skill in communication. Even if it’s just telling your family about your studies, it forces you to put yourself in the shoes of the audience. You have to make sure they understand you clearly, without using too much jargon. This is essential in any kind of communications role, but also in other roles where you have to collaborate with others.
In any role you are likely to have to interact with someone who may not know exactly what you are working on, and you will need to explain it to them. Honing the art of articulation will help you to communicate effectively in meetings, presentations and one-to-one conversations. So if you haven’t practised explaining scientific concepts to others, start now! This will also be a direct transferable skill to career paths like scientific engagement, outreach and events.
The three transferable skills mentioned above are just a starting point for you to begin recognising what skills you have naturally developed through your science degree. To continue developing this awareness, make a list of the tasks you have done throughout your degree or postgraduate studies. Think about how these might transfer to other workplace situations. Talk to people who work in other industries to find out where your skills might transfer to roles they know about. Recognising your skill set as a scientist will help you in every other stage of the job search or career development process.
If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, book a Beyond the Lab Breakthrough Session here.