My Career Journey So Far
In this blog post I’m going to talk about specific aspects of my career journey so far. In my last post about my story, I spoke about why I decided to study Biology and then pivot to a non-academic career. Here I’ll delve deeper into my decision to do more business-focused roles in science industries. I’ll also tell you about challenges I’ve faced along my career journey and how I’ve overcome these.
Deciding to do business roles
My decision to do business-roles in science industries was based on a mix of instinct and experience through internships. I thought I would be more suited to work where business skills like project management or communication were needed. When I did a few internships in business roles, I felt more fulfilled than doing research projects at university. A lot of this was because of the real world, practical application I was able to experience in the workplace.
The first internship I did had no link to science at all. During the second one I organised a public engagement event around communicating the impact of climate change effectively. My third internship was in the pharmaceutical sector. What I realised was the more I was working in a science context, the more fulfilled I was. My degree was valuable in understanding the context of the work, even if I wasn’t using it directly.
A lot of us struggle with feeling like our Bachelor’s degree is not valuable if we choose a non-academic career path. This can be especially true if you decide to go for an industry that has no link to science at all. The main way to realise this is not true is to recognise the transferable skills you have from your science degree. For me, by working in science-led industries, I also feel like I’m using my scientific grounding to interact with others in a more credible way. You can also keep your scientific links by volunteering in STEM industries. Often, education providers are looking for role models for young people to explain different career options available to them with a STEM background.
The challenges of job searching
I’m sure we all have our stories about the challenges of job searching during our career journey. We all face unique challenges in this area. One of them recently has been the changes in the job market due to the pandemic. I went through this recently myself. After I took some time off full-time work to volunteer and create Outside The Lab, I decided to re-enter employment. I soon got into a flow of making job applications. Then they were suddenly all frozen due to the uncertainty going around. It can be really disheartening in normal circumstances to not get responses to applications, or face rejection after rejection. In this case, it was more a situation that was out of anyone’s control. The way I dealt with this involved a few different methods related to my mindset and re-thinking my strategy. I had to detach myself from the previous applications I was making since I didn’t know what would be happening to those roles.
Then, I focused on understanding where the job market was heading. It took a bit of browsing job vacancies to figure out the types of roles companies were hiring for. Their priorities had changed so you could spot the roles and industries that were hiring at the same rate as before or even increasing in their hiring. Some more strategies I used were being really clear on what I could offer a company. This was either directly from my experience or what skills would be easily transferable to other roles. In my mind, I just focused on getting my next role rather than my longer-term career plan, which reduced feeling overwhelmed by trying to think long-term.
As soon as I shifted my mindset from focusing on what I had lost from my previous applications and concentrated on just my next step, more and more opportunities opened up. I came across many roles that I would be happy to do and got contacted by multiple recruiters when I made it clear on my LinkedIn profile what I was looking for. I ended up coming across an old job advert and speculatively contacting the email address of the hiring manager on there to check if they were still hiring. And it worked! Staying engaged with various volunteer roles along the way kept my mind active and built up my experience with industries I was interested in.
In addition to continuous networking, this helps with keeping up the habit of interacting with others in a professional context. This is important especially if you haven’t done an interview in a while or have been out of the workplace for some time. There are so many other aspects related to mindset and job search strategies that I could go into.
We all have unique hurdles that we might face, related to our personal or professional lives. Let me know whether you have faced anything similar or about any other challenges you are facing at the moment. And share if you have any advice or stories about how you have overcome these during your career journey! Please feel free to contact me on email@example.com, send a message on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn.
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.