A RESOURCE FOR SCIENTISTS LAUNCHINGRESEARCH CAREERS IN EMERGING SCIENCE CENTERS
A RESOURCE FOR SCIENTISTS LAUNCHINGRESEARCH CAREERS IN EMERGING SCIENCE CENTERS
© 2009 by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund                      ACKNOWLEDGMENTSAll rights reserved.                            ...
TABLE OF CONTENTSVII   PREFACE                                     33   CHAPTER 3                                         ...
53 Building and Sustaining an                97    CHAPTER 7        Effective Team                                  GETTIN...
135   CHAPTER 10                                157   CHAPTER 12      EXPANDING YOUR                                  INTE...
“ EVERY   VIRTUE OR EXCELLENCE BOTH BRINGS INTO GOOD CONDITION      THE THING OF WHICH IT IS THE EXCELLENCE AND MAKES THE ...
PREFACELaunching a scientific career is difficult. Success       so like an enzyme we hope to pick a good spotas a scientist...
outside our region. This volume focuses on starting    these will help you feel that you are in kinship andcareers in the ...
CHAPTER 1 GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB“ LA   CIENCIA NO TIENE PATRIA PERO EL HOMBRE DE CIENCIA SÍ LA TIE...
As you start your job search or prepare to move               There are no universally correct answers to theseinto new re...
KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT   The concept of job-hunting does not apply   exactly in the scientific activity in my country.      ...
LEARNING WHAT JOBS ARE AVAILABLE                                                                Often, we ‘create’ our job...
QUESTION                                                                                                q&a    What Is a “...
same time, or are considering jobs in more than        explanation that you were unaware of the positionone country or reg...
preparing for immediate submission, or you may             A short bibliography backing your research plan.be seen as dish...
When you approach someone other than an                 In most cases, your recommenders will write theadvisor for a lette...
QUESTION                                                                                              q&a    What if I do ...
ADVANCE PREPARATION                                         PREPARING YOUR JOB TALKBe well-prepared by doing the following...
it comfortably within the time allowed. Remember   During an interview, in some cultures it is                 that a talk...
PRACTICING THE TALK                                       DELIVERING THE TALK Practice your first few sentences until you c...
If challenged, listen to the criticism and give a      Expect to be interrupted. This kind of talk is a  judicious respons...
your one-on-one interviews you have promised to          EVALUATING THE OFFERshare data or more information, be sure to fo...
QUESTION                                                                                         q&a  How do I distinguish...
Are you responsible for obtaining money for your   If talking directly about money is not                 salary through g...
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  1. 1. A RESOURCE FOR SCIENTISTS LAUNCHINGRESEARCH CAREERS IN EMERGING SCIENCE CENTERS
  2. 2. A RESOURCE FOR SCIENTISTS LAUNCHINGRESEARCH CAREERS IN EMERGING SCIENCE CENTERS
  3. 3. © 2009 by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund ACKNOWLEDGMENTSAll rights reserved. The course on which this manual is based was conceived and driven by Maryrose Franko (HowardPermission to use, copy, and distribute this manual or Hughes Medical Institute) and the late and much-excerpts from this manual is granted provided that (1) missed Martin Ionescu-Pioggia (BWF), and this bookthe copyright notice above appears in all reproductions; owes much to—and draws from—the manual produced(2) use is for noncommercial educational purposes from that course, Making the Right Moves: A Practicalonly; (3) the manual or excerpts are not modified in any Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs andway; and (4) no figures or graphic images are used, New Faculty. We are grateful to the team which builtcopied, or distributed separate from accompanying the earlier manual and to HHMI for making it easy fortext. Requests beyond that scope should be directed us to move ahead with Excellence Everywhere.to news@bwfund.org. Thank you to the scientists who are quoted through-Some parts of Excellence Everywhere are taken directly out this book. They have provided personal insightsfrom Making the Right Moves. and frank comments without which this book wouldThe views expressed in this publication are those of its be much diminished. Many, many other researcherscontributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of from around the world—too many to list- providedthe Burroughs Wellcome Fund. informal input and critical reading of drafts, and we thank them all for their time and for helping us makeThis manual is also available online at this manual a resource worth sharing.www.excellenceeverywhere.org. Thanks especially to patient colleagues Jill ConleyProject Developer: Victoria McGovern, Ph.D. and Maryrose Franko at the Howard Hughes MedicalEditor: Russ Campbell Institute and Barbara Sina at the Fogarty InternationalDesigner: Liaison Design Group Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health forCopyeditor: Ernie Hood their long term encouragement, support, and helpBurroughs Wellcome Fund over the course of this project, and to HHMI editor21 T.W. Alexander Drive Pat Davenport for helpful comments throughout theP.O. Box 13901 process. Thanks to HHMI and to the Wellcome TrustResearch Triangle Park, NC 27709-3901 for access to their international awardee networks,www.bwfund.org and to Jimmy Whitworth and Pat Goodwin at the Wellcome Trust for helpful discussions. Thanks to science writers Heather B. McDonald and Christopher Thomas Scott, who provided some additional writing. Appreciation to Queta Bond, president emeritus now of BWF, who has been a great supporter of this work. Finally, deep gratitude to Dan Colley, Stephanie James, and Michael Gottlieb, who on seeing the U.S.-focused Making the Right Moves in 2005 told us “You need to make one of these for the rest of the world.” Who can resist such good advice from such wise people?
  4. 4. TABLE OF CONTENTSVII PREFACE 33 CHAPTER 3 GETTING STARTED: 1 CHAPTER 1 EQUIPPING YOUR LAB GETTING STARTED: AND HIRING PEOPLE FINDING AND MOVING 33 Designing and Equipping INTO A JOB Your New Lab 2 The Job Search 33 Putting the People You Need In Place 6 The Job Application 38 Interviewing Applicants 8 The Job Interview 40 Evaluating Applicants 14 Negotiating Your Position 41 Making the Offer 18 Resources 42 Asking Staff to Leave19 CHAPTER 2 44 Resources ENTRY AND RE-ENTRY: ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS 45 CHAPTER 4 A SCIENTIST IN A NEW JOB MANAGING YOUR 20 People You Should Get to Know MANY ROLES 21 Support Facilities and Services 46 Your Role as a Laboratory Leader 24 Working with Human Subjects 47 Developing Leadership Skills 26 Responsibilities Beyond the Laboratory 48 How to Improve Your Leadership Skills 27 Scientists and the Outside World 50 Creating Your Vision as a Leader 28 Understanding Your Institution and How to Progress Within It 51 Developing Your Leadership Style 32 Resources TABLE OF CONTENTS III
  5. 5. 53 Building and Sustaining an 97 CHAPTER 7 Effective Team GETTING FUNDED 54 Good Practice for Laboratory 97 Understanding the Review Process Notebooks 100 Preparing a Strong Grant Application 61 Making Decisions 106 Resources 62 Setting and Communicating Rules of Behavior for Members of 107 CHAPTER 8 Your Laboratory TEACHING AND 65 Keeping Lab Members Motivated COURSE DESIGN 67 Managing Conflict in the Lab 107 Why Teach Well? 70 Resources 109 Becoming an Effective Teacher 110 The Principles of Active Learning71 CHAPTER 5 MANAGING YOUR TIME 114 Developing Examination Questions 72 Strategies for Planning Your Activities 115 Course Design 74 Making Choices 117 Teaching Others to Teach 74 Managing Your Time Day-to-Day 118 Time Management When Balancing Teaching and Research 76 Making the Most of the Time You Have 119 The Teaching Portfolio 77 Managing Non-Research Tasks 120 Resources 79 Family Matters 80 Resources 121 CHAPTER 9 INCREASING YOUR IMPACT:81 CHAPTER 6 GETTING PUBLISHED PROJECT MANAGEMENT 121 Understanding Publishing 82 Deciding on a Project 127 Writing Your Paper 84 Getting Started 129 Submitting Your Paper 87 Tools for Developing Schedules 132 Publishing Honestly 90 Controlling the Project 133 Promoting Your Work 91 Resources 134 ResourcesIV EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  6. 6. 135 CHAPTER 10 157 CHAPTER 12 EXPANDING YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY INFLUENCE: TRAINING 157 Understanding Intellectual THE NEXT GENERATION Property Rights OF SCIENTISTS 160 Intellectual Property in a Global 135 Training Others Environment 139 Strategies for Effective Training 163 Case Studies 140 Different Needs at Different Stages 166 Resources 143 How to Get the Career Help and Advice That You Need 167 CHAPTER 13 MOVING MATERIALS 144 Resources AND EQUIPMENT 144 When Mentoring, Advisory, or 168 Regulations and Relevant Supervisory Relationships are not Organizations working out 169 Appropriate Packaging145 CHAPTER 11 170 Important Issues and Practical Advice COLLABORATION 172 Service and Maintenance 145 The Collaborative Effort 174 Responsibility for Materials 148 Setting up a Collaboration 174 Animals and Plants 151 The Ingredients of a Successful Collaboration 174 Physical Challenges to Shipping Materials Long Distances 152 Dealing with Authorship and Intellectual Property Issues 176 Resources 154 Special Challenges for the Beginning Investigator 177 APPENDIX 155 When a Collaboration is Not Working 156 Resources TABLE OF CONTENTS V
  7. 7. “ EVERY VIRTUE OR EXCELLENCE BOTH BRINGS INTO GOOD CONDITION THE THING OF WHICH IT IS THE EXCELLENCE AND MAKES THE WORK OF THAT THING BE DONE WELL; THE EXCELLENCE OF THE EYE MAKES BOTH THE EYE AND ITS WORK GOOD, FOR IT IS BY THE EXCELLENCE OF THE EYE THAT WE SEE WELL. SIMILARLY THE EXCELLENCE OF THE HORSE MAKES A HORSE BOTH G O O D I N I T S E L F, A N D G O O D AT R U N N I N G , A N D AT C A R R Y I N G I T S R I D E R , A N D AT A WA I T I N G T H E AT TA C K O F T H E E N E M Y. THEREFORE, IF THIS IS TRUE IN EVERY CASE, THE EXCELLENCE OF A PERSON ALSO WILL BE THE STATE OF CHARACTER WHICH MAKES A PERSON GOOD AND MAKES HIM DO HIS OWN WORK WELL. ” ARISTOTLEVI EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  8. 8. PREFACELaunching a scientific career is difficult. Success so like an enzyme we hope to pick a good spotas a scientist will depend on many things—from from which to bring things into line so that theintelligence and creativity to luck; from being a barriers to activation can be reduced.good team player to being an independent thinker Several years ago, we asked our awardees whoand driver of your own work; from bringing out were just starting faculty careers in the Unitedthe best in the people with whom you work to States and Canada to think about how we couldbeing an accurate and respected authority whose help them better. What we heard back from themfairness and good ideas are known to other surprised us—they did not ask for more moneyresearchers, research organizations, and perhaps or more scientific resources. Instead, they askedgovernments. At the top in research, people us for help in understanding how to succeed atalmost universally want the same things: to be many activities—managing people, getting grants,excellent scientists, to do their best work, and to spreading one’s reputation, and more—that aresee good things come of it. Integrity is at the core critical for scientific success and are not taught atof a good career, everywhere. A successful career the bench.in science pays off by advancing knowledge, andoften by helping to make the world a healthier or Their replies stirred us to action. The Burroughseasier place, by earning one the respect of other Wellcome Fund teamed up with the Howardscientists, and by providing new opportunities to Hughes Medical Institute, another research-do good work and share in a better life. supporting organization that, like us, is interested in what it takes to make a good career greatThe Burroughs Wellcome Fund is proud to support and a great career magnificent. Together wemany excellent life scientists during the early part put together a short course for our early-careerof their careers. Although we are a research funder, awardees. The response to the course was soour focus is actually not just on the research strongly positive that we put together a book tobut also on the scientists who carry it out. Put make the material covered in the course availablesimply, we look for the best young scientists and to a broader audience.then invest our resources to help them reachnew levels of excellence. We believe that giving When BWF’s awardees and advisors who workscientists room for creativity, for taking risks, and in other parts of the world saw it, they said thatfor moving their interests between fields to look at this information was needed far beyond Northexisting problems in new ways is a strategy that America, the region in which we make almostproduces a catalytic effect. Foundations are fairly all of our grants. So we set about making thissmall in the overall scheme of scientific funding, material relevant to scientists starting careers PREFACE VII
  9. 9. outside our region. This volume focuses on starting these will help you feel that you are in kinship andcareers in the emerging scientific communities in in conversation with these scientists, even thoughthe South—the low- and middle-resource regions they may be far from you.of the tropics and sub-tropics. It would be impossible to create a book that fits theThe material here features insights from researchers experiences of researchers in every place wherein Africa and South and Central America, and we science is expanding and new opportunities arehope it may be useful to those in other regions as arising for young researchers. But the material inwell. this book is “open source.” If you are in an institu- tion, organization, or government that is interestedThe work on re-interpreting this material for in custom-tailoring our laboratory managementscientists in many other countries has taken place resources to use in your own country or region,in several phases. It began with asking North we are glad to hear it.American researchers who work closely withinvestigators and field sites in the South to provide Science is an international endeavor. Wherever itcommentary on parts of the original book that were is done, it connects us to the scientists, scholars,especially “North Americo-centric.” Next, a number and philosophers of the past and the future. Ourof researchers from the South, but working in the work as a scientific community can make humanU.S., were asked for their ideas. Then BWF staff lives better, healthier, and longer, and can improvesent the revised material to researchers who the economies of nations, regions, and the world.have established their careers in South America, To be a scientist is both a privilege and a passion.Central America, and Africa and asked for both their We hope the insights in this book will help youcritiques and corrections and, more importantly, for build a career where you consistently aim higher,stories from their own early experiences in starting reach farther, and perform even better than youresearch careers. Their comments and thoughts may have thought would be your best.are found throughout the book. We hope that John E. Burris, Ph.D. President Burroughs Wellcome Fund Victoria McGovern, Ph.D. Senior Program Officer Burroughs Wellcome Fund VIII EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  10. 10. CHAPTER 1 GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB“ LA CIENCIA NO TIENE PATRIA PERO EL HOMBRE DE CIENCIA SÍ LA TIENE. ” BERNARDO HOUSSAY As you complete your scientific training and will become program coordinators or managers of prepare to move forward into a position of greater complex partnerships, while experienced people scientific and often managerial responsibility, you with PhDs will more commonly lead one or a are probably starting to think about the next step group of research programs. It is a good idea to in your research career. For some of you, this be familiar with what kinds of jobs and responsi- may mean a position as the head of a laboratory bilities generally go with the degree you have in at a university or as a researcher in an industry or the place where you will work. government laboratory. For others, it may mean The process of obtaining a research appointment working more independently than during your varies greatly from country to country and from training, but still under another scientist or official’s situation to situation. This chapter will provide authority. You may have lined up a job even before some general advice and strategies to help you starting your training or you may have to embark find the type of job that suits your ambitions and on a job search, perhaps with little idea of how to goals. If you will be moving to a new position in begin. You may have completed your training in the same institution or department or into a job the same country where you hope to find perma- that has been held for you, you may not need to nent employment, or you may be returning to your carry out a job search. Still, this chapter may home country after having trained elsewhere. provide some insight into how to make sure you This book focuses on scientists with doctoral and your institution—whether it is a university, degrees, but there are several levels of training research institute, clinic, or government—have the for professional scientists, and in many countries same expectations as you begin a new phase of there are jobs at each of these levels that can your career. That insight will help even if you find lead to positions of power and responsibility. For yourself in a totally different country, neither your example, in many places people who hold the own nor the one where you trained, but where MPhil or MSc degree and have relevant experience you may have secured a job or hope to find a job. The quote above: Houssay, referring to a famous quote by Pasteur, reflects that while science itself has no country, scientists do. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 1
  11. 11. As you start your job search or prepare to move There are no universally correct answers to theseinto new responsibilities, you will confront a series questions, but this chapter will raise some thingsof challenging questions: to consider as you look for your own answers. What do I want and need from my scientific work? What do I want and need from a job? THE JOB SEARCH If a job is being held for me, is it still the next job I If you need to find a job, make your search a want, and one that makes sense for me? concentrated effort. Ideally, doing so may bring multiple offers your way at about the same time. How has time away affected my standing at an Even if resources and opportunities in the region institution to which I might return? where you will work are scarce, still try to enter What will my career progression be like if I return the search mindful that you have choices and to this institute? opportunities, and that you are bringing something excellent—yourself!—to your potential employer. If I find I have more than one opportunity in front Making the job hunt a focused and dedicated of me, how will I chose between them? effort also makes the labor-intensive process of How can I ensure that my achievements and gathering your credentials and references much capabilities, which may have been developed far more productive. from where I want to work, will be recognized? If you have your heart set on getting one specific If I have more than one job offer, how will I choose? job, it may still be useful to think through other How can I ensure that the resources I need to possibilities. As you think more broadly, you may launch my career and succeed as a researcher are find that many different possible futures are made available to me? available to you. You may still love the job that was your original favorite, but also find some How can my skills and knowledge be used to other ways forward that will allow you to develop address the needs and opportunities in the contingency plans in case the preferred job does institution and position in which I will work? not work out. There are many reasons an excellentMost people also confront a very basic question: candidate may not be selected for what seems like “the perfect job,” including personalities not How do I go about finding a job? quite fitting, funding being cut, and governments changing directions. WHILE YOU ARE STILL IN TRAINING If you know that you will train abroad for a few years and then return to your home country, you can help pave the way for your future job search by forming an informal advisory group of past teachers and advisors, young scientists who are slightly senior to you and who will enter jobs while you are finishing your training, and any friends and relatives who may have useful knowledge of the scientific job market which you plan to enter. Keep these advisors informed of your scientific and career progress while you are gone so that in a few years, when it is time to begin moving toward a long-term position, you have some allies in your own country keeping you in mind and watching out for job opportunities that may fit you. Meanwhile, if you are training in a wealthy country, be on the lookout for re-entry grant funds, which are available from a number of agencies. These modest grants are meant to help you successfully establish your research project when you return to your own country. 2 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  12. 12. KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT The concept of job-hunting does not apply exactly in the scientific activity in my country. In your job search, you will have a greater chance Apart from the very few companies that may of finding a job that fits you well if you have your offer jobs for scientists (really negligible), most own needs and wants firmly in mind. Career scientists start their careers as investigators of options in specific countries and regions will vary the CONICET and/or as teacher/professors at greatly, and the choices you make will be very public universities. In both cases the most criti- dependent on the nature of scientific careers in the cal issue is to find the lab/institute or university place you plan to work. In some places, universities department where to work, and only then one will be the principal and perhaps only settings for applies. The position is obtained through open research. Elsewhere, research may be concentrated contests where there is not a personalized job in government facilities or in research institutes. offer but a peer review analysis of your CV, Whatever opportunities are available, you should your work plan, and the institution you chose. consider the following questions: In the case of universities, a contest includes a public lecture, and the analysis of previous Do you need to be working at the “top” ” teaching activity, all assessed by a jury. institution to achieve your goals as a scientist, or would an excellent but less competition-driven institution be acceptable or even preferable, Alberto Kornblihtt, Argentina given your personality, talents, ambitions, and commitments? Do you want to devote yourself exclusively toEven if a position is being held for you or you are research, or would you prefer some combinationmoving on to a new role in your current institution of research and teaching, consulting, governmentwithout a formal job search, it can still be worth- service, or clinical practice?while to set aside some time to put together yourcurriculum vitae (CV) as you are finishing up your Do you prefer an urban, rural, or suburban location?training. The CV is the professional passport for Will personal responsibilities or the professionalscientists, and it is a document you should always needs of other family members set limits on whatbe ready to produce on request. You should also you might do or where you might live?make contact with those involved in your trainingand others who will be preparing letters of If you are a physician-scientist, will you want torecommendation for you, to let them know that see patients? How much time will you want toyou are about to move on to a new stage in your devote to research versus clinical practice? If youcareer. Sending a copy of your newly-updated CV are rarely in the clinic, how will you make the timeto these individuals will help them remember your to keep your clinical credentials (licenses, etc.) upexperiences and goals and will show them the to date?progress you have made. This will help them write Is the timing right? Have you finished what youtheir strongest letters of recommendation with hoped to accomplish in your training? Are you readyscientific specifics, rather than just statements to succeed at the job you are considering?about their own relationships with you and yourgood character. In some cases, one has to start with whatever is available so as to be able to feed your family or to look after your parents. As long as you are passionate about science and have your goals clear, you will eventually find ” your way back to science. Abdoulaye Djimdé, Mali GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 3
  13. 13. LEARNING WHAT JOBS ARE AVAILABLE Often, we ‘create’ our job by what we bringReliable formal and informal sources of information to the opportunity, including our perspectiveto find out about available jobs include: of the position and setting. Where some see ” Informal discussions with current and former problems, others perceive opportunity. colleagues—for example, the supervisor of your current training, other scientists with whom you Nancy Gore Saravia, Colombia have a relationship (especially those with whom you have collaborated), teachers from your under- graduate education, government officials and civil Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), and other servants you may know, and your peers. If you wide-reaching international organizations. are doing part of your training in a different country from where you will seek permanent employment, Web sites of academic institutions, particularly it is critically important to keep in contact with university Web sites, and of research institutes, a broad array of people back home, not just family as well the ministry of education or equivalent and your closest friends, so that you can find out government body in your country. about job opportunities or changes to a position Employment bulletins published by professional you have been promised in advance. associations. Job announcement letters sent to your department List serves for researchers, including technical or your professional society. ones focused on your scientific interests and Announcements (print and online) in major those of multinational organizations such as the scientific journals such as Cell, Science, and Nature World Health Organization. and in publications devoted to your subspecialty. Major radio stations and selected newspapers Advertisements in local scientific and medical (announcing jobs this way is a legal requirement journals. in some countries). Advertisements in national and regional newspapers and international magazines. The NARROWING YOUR SEARCH Economist frequently carries advertisements for jobs (mostly not research-oriented but requiring Job offers in your country may be scarce. If so, scientific knowledge) at Non-Governmental you should consider every opportunity that is at Organizations (NGOs), Quasi-Autonomous the appropriate level and involves the kind of work Non-Government Organizations (QANGOs), you would like to do. But many readers will be able A FEW CAREER-RELATED WEB SITES FOR SCIENTISTS Nature magazine’s Nature Jobs (http://naturejobs.nature.com) Web site advertises jobs around the world and has a useful feature for focusing on jobs in your region of interest. Science magazine’s ScienceCareers.org Web site (http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/) contains a career development resource for postdocs and beginning faculty. This site is primarily focused on American scientists, with some European content, but some of the advice will apply to scientists in other countries. While jobs advertised on these sites and in these magazines are mostly in countries with larger research economies, both magazines take an international view and are adding new content and new job opportunities from additional countries as time goes by. 4 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  14. 14. QUESTION q&a What Is a “Tenure-Track” Job? ANSWER In Nature, Science, and frequently in career discussions you will encounter the term “tenure-track.” In some countries, a faculty member hired in a tenure-track position will work for several years before a formal decision is made on whether tenure—something approximating lifetime job security—will be granted. If tenure is not granted, the investigator is typically asked to leave so that someone else can fill the tenure- track spot. In most institutions that use this system, a tenured professor cannot be fired, except for certain limited causes such as gross misconduct or neglect of duty. However, gaining tenure is not an easy way to convert one’s job into a sinecure. At many tenure-granting institutions, chronically unproductive faculty will lose their research space and much of their salary support until not much more than the professorial title remains. Some career opportunities and funding programs require that an investigator have a “tenure-track” or equivalent position. That is because such a position is expected to include dedicated research space, intellectual independence (meaning that you are the driver of your own research program), and—perhaps most importantly—your institution’s clear statement that it is committed to your long-term career success and that you are part of the institution’s plans for its own future. The important thing about a tenure-track position is not that someone has offered you a job for life, but rather that your position and your institution’s commitment to you are stable enough for you to be a researcher not only today but also far into the future. Letters of nomination or recommendation from your institution should highlight this long-term commitment to your research, in addition to commenting on your science and the personal qualities that make you an excellent scientist, if your position has a similar level of stability. In some places, a model much like that of the French system INSERM prevails—investigators who become part of the government-sponsored research system are very secure. Some government institutions will hire researchers for a short probationary period during which they must show they will do well in the job, and then will move them into a permanent and very secure position.to find several job offerings that fit well and shouldbe considered. Once you have a list of possible I know of no positions (with one exception)job opportunities, compare the advantages and in Argentina that have been advertised. Indisadvantages of the various jobs against your list Argentina it is mostly the other way around,of priorities. Find out about: with some minor exceptions—it is not the institutions that go looking for applicants, but The parameters and expectations of the position. former students that want to come back and The department’s reputation, mission, research knock at the door of every institution looking ” activities, curriculum, and collegial atmosphere. for some lab space. The institution’s quality, mission, values, and political and social climate. Belen Elgoyhen,ArgentinaThere is no easy way to determine how manypositions you should apply for. If you work in aplace where there are many jobs open at the GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 5
  15. 15. same time, or are considering jobs in more than explanation that you were unaware of the positionone country or region, you may put in several job before the deadline. Many institutions are willingapplications at once. That may seem unnecessary, to consider late applications, and most will bebut remember that job hunting has valuable delighted to see your application if you arespin-offs. For example, if more than one place is particularly well-suited for the position available.interested in you, you may get more chances to Putting Together Your CV. Most job applicationsmake presentations about your work. Your ideas require you to submit a CV along with your applica-are sharpened by organizing your thoughts and tion. Typically, this career summary should contain:making presentations, and your research itself willbenefit from this outwardly directed thinking.When Your name, address, and telephone number.you pull together your work for presentation, you All higher education, with degrees obtainedare practicing skills you will use throughout your and dates.career. You also get better at all parts of the pro-cess as you go along. Your self-confidence builds, All professional positions held, with dates andand your sense of what you want develops as you brief descriptions of the work performed.are introduced to various research environments. Awards and honors, including pre- andHowever, unless jobs are extremely scarce in the postdoctoral fellowships.place where you most want to work, do not apply Membership in national, regional, andfor a scientific job for which you are clearly not international scientific and professional societies.qualified, whether it is beyond your current experi-ence level or far below it. Nor should you pursue Major sources of independent funding.employment that really does not interest you. You Publications, including major reviews.do not want to waste people’s time and perhapsdamage your own credibility. Teaching experience, awards, and interests. References, including names, titles, addresses, and other contact information.THE JOB APPLICATION Invited keynote speeches and presentations.How you go about applying for a job varies fromplace to place and from institution to institution. Major research projects undertaken.Talk to those who trained you and to colleagues Main responsibilities held in work-relatedto find out about the culture at the institutions you committees.would like to approach and what you will need todo to put in a successful application. This section In some countries, it is accepted that you willprovides some general guidelines, with specific provide personal details such as your maritalexamples from various individuals. status, number of children, or general health, but in others this practice will seem peculiar and may cause your application to be viewed less seriouslyMAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION than those that conform to a less personalRegardless of the type of application process, standard. Ask friends and colleagues who havefollow the application instructions or expected positions like the job you hope to get if they willprotocol carefully. Make sure your materials are look at your CV and tell you if there is anythingfree of factual, grammatical, and spelling errors. more that should be included or anything thatYou do not want to be eliminated at the outset— should be removed.a sloppily-prepared document makes a bad Highlight your name in bold type in your publica-impression. tions list so that it will be easy to see where youIf there is a deadline, be sure to get your applica- fell among the authors. List manuscripts intion in on time. But if you learn about the position preparation as a separate category. Do not listafter the application deadline has passed, go every paper you can conceive of writing in the nextahead and send in your application with an year. Include only papers that you are seriously 6 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  16. 16. preparing for immediate submission, or you may A short bibliography backing your research plan.be seen as dishonestly padding your CV rather than It should include your publications and manuscriptsas someone who has many irons in the fire. Be submitted or in press, as well as pertinentprepared for requests for copies of manuscripts that publications by others.you have described as in preparation or submitted. Your research proposal should accomplish oneThe Research Proposal. Some applications will goal: to spell out what you realistically hope torequire you to provide a description of your accomplish in the next few years as an employeeresearch plans. This research proposal may be of the organization to which you are applying. Ifreviewed by a committee composed of people your plans are too grandiose, you may underminefrom scientific areas outside your subspecialty. your case by showing that you are not a realist.For this reason, make sure that your proposal (Worse, you might land the job and then beis clearly written and that it provides sufficient expected to live up to your unrealistic plans!)background for non-specialists to understand the If your plans are not big enough, however, youimportance of the work. may appear to misunderstand the position or lackFollow any guidelines given when writing your ambition. This, then, is another document whereresearch proposals. Here are some suggested insight from others who have landed similar jobs initems you might include: the same or similar institutions will be extremely valuable. A title that succinctly describes the nature of your proposal. Reprints. Follow instructions given for each application. Send along any important papers that A statement about the problem you intend to work are not yet published. on, indicating the key unanswered questions you will tackle. State how this research is expected to Statement of Teaching. If the job has a teaching contribute to other research in your general area component, you may be asked to include a of scientific interest, and if appropriate to the separate section describing how you look at proposal, how it may contribute to policy formula- teaching, your instructional style, and any teaching tion or informed decision-making. experience you may have already had. This topic will be discussed further in chapter 8. A description of your research plans. This section should comprise 50-70% of the proposal. Put Letters of Recommendation. Depending on the forward three or four specific aims that address application instructions, letters of recommendation a range of fundamental questions within your can be included by you in the application package or discipline. Demonstrate that you have the neces- submitted later without passing through your sary background to achieve what you propose. hands. Typically, these letters are written by your Be both creative and realistic. former supervisors. It also may be acceptable to submit one or two more references than the A few comprehensive figures. These can help make your proposal more interesting to read. number asked for in the application. If possible, Remember, figures are most useful when they you should check in with the organization to which are included in the text, as they would be in a you are applying about this. Again, it is usually not published paper, and not tacked on at the end, as appropriate to go overboard. Sending 12 references they usually are when you are submitting a paper when three are requested would be viewed by for publication. many employers as a sign that you are insecure or grandiose, but some might view it as a sign that you A detailed description of the research you conduct- are well-connected. It is in your best interest to find ed as part of your training, with an emphasis on out which is more likely to be true at the institution what is novel, useful, and important and how it is you are interested in joining. Checking in directly the basis for your research proposal. You may with the office of the person who is hiring is one want to make clear that the work you are taking way to make sure that you do not send the wrong with you will not be in direct competition with your message. former supervisor, especially if you work in the same country. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 7
  17. 17. When you approach someone other than an In most cases, your recommenders will write theadvisor for a letter of recommendation, use the letters themselves and will not let you see them.conversation as an opportunity to get a sense of When you deliver or send them your CV, pointhow they judge your work. If you encounter any out any strengths you have that they may not behesitation at all, or an indication that the person fully aware of. But be careful—you do not wantdoes not have time to write a letter or does not to appear to be dictating your letter to them, andknow you well enough to do so, ask others. In things you say that are meant to turn any negativemost cases it is better to ask someone who really impressions of you around could backfire.knows you and your work—not just someone with If you are able to, provide your recommendersan important title. with stamped, addressed envelopes ready toGive those who are writing you letters of recom- accept letters and be sent, or, if letters are to bemendation plenty of time to prepare the letters. sent electronically, provide the complete URL orWhen possible, give them your application pack- email address for submission. You want to lowerage, any advertisements or job announcements the barriers to them sending the letters, or elseto which you may be responding, and your most they may procrastinate. It is better to buy theup-to-date CV. It is important that your more stamps yourself rather than have the letter lan-recent accomplishments are on their minds, not guish simply because this important person wasjust things you may have done years ago. If you unable to find time to go to the post office. Tellfind the process narcissistic or are uncomfortable them when each letter to each of your potentialwith the self-promotion involved, don’t worry— employers will be needed, and then remind themmany people feel the same way. But what you until they send your letters. Check in with theare trying to do is to put on paper the facts that office that is hiring to verify that each letter haswill make employers want to have a look at you. been received. If the people who are writing yourThese letters may be the key to convincing a reference letters are established scientists with apotential employer to consider you for the job. secretary or aide, you may want to enlist the helpYou need them to be as strong, current, and of that assistant to be sure the letters are sent inlaudatory as they can honestly be. Your future on time.depends on them. Unless a job application specifically asks forIn some places, it is not uncommon (but certainly electronic submissions only, a paper letter on thenot common) for people to ask you to prepare a writer’s letterhead stationery should be sent, evendraft of the letter of recommendation for them. if an electronic version has also been forwarded.They do this so that you can highlight points thatwill strengthen your application—if you are ap-plying on the strength of your experience with a THE JOB INTERVIEWparticular technique, for example, the letter might Depending on the process for obtaining a jobspend a paragraph focusing on your mastery of in your country, a formal job interview may bethe technique, in addition to paragraphs comment- required. It might last a short time, or it coulding on the bigger picture of your science, on your involve a day long or over night visit to thecharacter, and on your standing compared with institution. It may be conducted by a singleyour peers. If an advisor asks you to draft a letter, person or a committee. Or you might be askedit is fair for you to ask him or her to give you some to meet directly with the hiring official at a localexamples of other letters, so that you can get the or international meeting and not be brought onformat and tone correct, and for you to ask others site at all. The interview could also be conductedin your lab to help you craft the best letter you in stages, with some applicants being eliminatedcan. Be aware that although someone may have at each step. The institution inviting you for andescribed this as a “draft,” he or she may sign interview may or may not pay your expenses forit and send it without adding more comments or travel and accommodations. You might meet withediting it, so check it very carefully before you several senior members of the institution, eitherdeclare it complete. 8 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  18. 18. QUESTION q&a What if I do not get along with my former or current supervisor? ANSWER If you do not have a good relationship with your supervisor and cannot ask for a letter of recommendation, sometimes it is best to explain why in your cover letter. Be completely candid about the situation. Not having a recommendation from the very person who trained you and supervised your work can be a very significant red flag. Sometimes if you have a good relationship with the top person at your institution or department, you can ask that person to take on the task of helping you advance to your next position. This may be effective in allowing you to get past conflicts with your problematic supervisor. But remember that your publication record may make it obvious that you are not asking the person with whom you worked most closely to give you a recommendation. Despite your insertion of a higher official into the process, those in charge of reviewing applications may contact your immediate supervisor anyway. Think and act carefully in this situation, but do not become too paranoid—a soured relationship with a past boss can be inconvenient, particularly in the small world of research, but conflicts are bad for both parties involved, and hounding you forever would probably be a negative career move for your former supervisor. When important people are consistently bad bosses to those they train, word gets around. You should resist the urge to complain or badmouth your nemesis, and should not be surprised if a few years later others turn out to know of the grace with which you handled this difficult situation. In the meantime, a letter from another scientist at your supervisor’s level at your institution who can com- ment on your intellect and hard work and perhaps make a comment on the difficult relationship between you and your supervisor may be critical in this case. Often, the frictions that arise between people can be put in a light that reflects positively on you and your supervisor—for example, if your interests in basic sci- ence grew to conflict with your supervisor’s need to use you in an administrative or bureaucratic role, then neither of you were “bad people,” the job was simply not a good fit. It is obvious how and why some bad feeling might come along. People do understand that sometimes the fit between individuals’ personalities or between a scientist and a particular job is just not right, and will not always judge you harshly for it.during the first or subsequent interviews, and they Find out as much as you can that will help youmay be asked to provide feedback about you to decide if the institution, the working group, andthe person or committee doing the hiring. You may the job are right for you.also be asked to give one or more talks about your Convince the interview panel that your competen-research. No matter what the format of the job cies and expertise will complement and strengtheninterview is, it will be your task to: those of the research group and add value to Convince those listening that your work is exciting existing research activity. and that you will be a leader in your field. Regardless of how the particular process works, Convince each person you talk with that you will be prepared for a demanding and exhausting be a good colleague. experience. Get enough rest beforehand so that you will be at your best. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 9
  19. 19. ADVANCE PREPARATION PREPARING YOUR JOB TALKBe well-prepared by doing the following before During an interview visit, you may be asked to giveyour visit: a formal presentation on your current research. At many institutions this kind of talk lasts about Organize the logistics of your trip, including travel an hour, including 10-15 minutes for questions. tickets, hotel accommodations, arrangements for You have probably given a long talk before, and pick-up, and the schedule of events on interview you know what works for you, but here are a few day. Be conservative about your estimates of travel guidelines on how to prepare your talk: time—you do not need the added stress of miss- ing a connection and being late. If you will have ac- First, write out the entire talk, thinking of your cess to email or cell phone communication during audience as you write. Remember, a talk is not your trip, exchange addresses or phone numbers presented in the same way as a scientific paper. with the person who organized your interview so You must get your main ideas across to listeners that you can alert each other if there are problems who have had little opportunity to study the details, during your travel or any changes in plans. Do not as well as to those whose research interests and make assumptions about arrangements being backgrounds are very different from yours. Assume made for you—get the details beforehand. Find that your audience will be composed of intelligent out whether you will be given accommodations people who are uninformed about your chosen while you are on site, particularly if you are flying in scientific field. To help your audience follow before the day of your interview. It may be that ac- your talk, divide it into several clear and concise commodations will not be provided. Knowing this sections, and give an overview of the talk at the before you arrive, so that you can make your own beginning. At the end, restate your conclusions arrangements, will save you plenty of confusion and offer an outline of your future research plans. and trouble later. At the outset or at the conclusion of your talk, If you will be meeting other scientists, find out include a brief statement acknowledging those about their scientific interests ahead of time. Read who helped you in your research. a few of their papers or at least skim the abstracts. Next, translate what you have written into the Be ready to ask them about their work. pictures and “major points” summaries of a slide Learn as much as possible about the institution presentation. Most researchers use PowerPoint and its mission. You want to make sure your presentations to deliver their talks. If you use ambitions are in line with those of the institution. computer slides, bring along a sturdy backup, for example a CD or flash drive with your talk, as well as a less technology-dependent backup like acetateDRESS CODE slides that go on overhead projectors. Be sure toDress neatly and in keeping with scientific custom ask your hosts ahead of time about the type ofas you know it. If you have trained abroad, talk to equipment that will be available to you and plancolleagues who are local to the institution where accordingly. Try to vary the design of your slides,you are interviewing to make sure you understand balancing the use of text and figures. Resist thethe dress code. A simple suit—jacket, button- temptation to use only bulleted points, but alsodown shirt, tie for men, and matching trousers or avoid long sentences. Many people who areskirt—may be the best approach. If you end up nervous about public speaking will place everybeing over-dressed, the jacket and tie can be taken word that they plan to say on their slides. Thatoff for a less formal look. Think through what you does not make a very good slide show! Keep thewill do if your luggage is lost on the way. It is text on your slides brief and to the point. Refer toadvisable to carry an extra shirt, underclothes, and the text as you speak, but do not just read it—light toiletries in your hand luggage, just in case elaborate on it. That will lead your audience to beyour baggage goes missing. comfortably attentive to both your text and your remarks. Be sure that your slides are readable from the back of a lecture room and that the order of your slides matches your written presentation. 10 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  20. 20. it comfortably within the time allowed. Remember During an interview, in some cultures it is that a talk that is slightly too short is much better suggested to be very polite, never make than one that is too long. It may be better to focus eye contact with interviewers, and to avoid on only one aspect of your research, so that you speaking about oneself (e.g. describing your can give sufficient detail within the time you have, strengths in overt terms). Specifically, females saving the rest for the question-and-answer session. are encouraged to avoid eye contact with male interviewers. When interviewing with a person When you feel comfortable giving your talk, enlist with a foreign/international background, these your supervisor, your colleagues, scientifically principles may be viewed as major weak- trained friends and any students you work with nesses, and thus reduce your chances of as an audience for a “dress rehearsal” practice getting hired. It is important to find out the talk. If you will be using a laser pointer when you background of the interviewer and adjust one’s give your interview talk, practice with one, as the ” behavior accordingly. jumpiness of the laser spot can be a distraction for the audience if the speaker is not used to handling the pointer. Encourage the group to ask questions Abdoulaye Djimdé, Mali and offer frank criticism of your work, your man- ner of speaking, your gestures and any annoyingA few back-up slides of new work or additional speech or gesture habits that distract from yourexperiments may occasionally add value to any talk, and your professional appearance. (Especiallydiscussion arising from your presentation. if you are a very sensitive person, it is good to start by reminding your helpful crowd you are looking forView your slides projected in a lighted room, if insights that will let you quickly improve the talk,possible. Many images look fine on a computer not for thorough dissection of your work, personal-screen but work poorly when projected. In particu- ity, and appearance.) This is a useful exercise aslar, avoid using light-colored text on light-colored it may help prepare you to respond to comments,backgrounds or dark text on dark backgrounds. including difficult and unanticipated questions.Finally, practice your talk in front of a mirror. Doing Ask the group for suggestions for improving yourso allows you to time your presentation while PowerPoint slides. Make sure that you start prepar-getting used to the sound of your own voice. Keep ing your talk well before the day you will have torepeating the talk until you can deliver it easily, leave and that you ask for comments early enoughusing your slides as your only memory aid. If to leave time for editing your slides and your talk tonecessary, edit the talk down until you can deliver incorporate with any good advice you receive. INTERVIEWING IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT When NGOs and multinational organizations recruit, they will frequently meet with researchers in the South, but bring with them assumptions and expectations that come from institutional cultures in Geneva, New York, Paris, London, or elsewhere. The dress code, how to interact with the organiza- tion’s staff during the process, how forward or aggressive to be during the interview, and even how much to pursue eye contact may be different from what is right for institutions in your country. Eye contact, in particular, is difficult to gauge. In many (but not all) Northern cultures, briefly dropping and then re-establishing eye contact on encountering a person in a position of power is a respectful sign, but keeping them dropped is viewed as unconfident or dishonest. In most places, whether North or South, gaining, pursuing, and holding eye contact too much is interpreted as aggressive. Finding opportunities to talk informally with people from the countries frequently represented will give you a chance to experiment with different levels of eye contact. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 11
  21. 21. PRACTICING THE TALK DELIVERING THE TALK Practice your first few sentences until you can If you can, arrive early, so that you can become deliver them without much thought—this will help comfortable with the room and can be sure that you dive into your speech even if you are nervous. your slides are set up and ready to go. You may Do not memorize your whole talk and give it as a have to ask your host to get you to the room with recitation, though—know what you plan to say, but enough time to prepare. relax and talk with your audience rather than trying The most nerve-wracking moments are just before to say exactly the same words that you practiced you begin your lecture. Focus on your breathing. in the weeks before the talk. Make every inhale and exhale deliberate to control On your own, go through your talk over and over a rapid heart rate. During the talk, pause and take again, paying attention to the words you will use a breath between transitions, just as you would if to go through your slides. If there is a slide where you were telling a friend an exciting story. you find yourself saying too much or going off on Greet your audience and tell them you are glad tangents, work particularly hard on moving crisply to be with them. Make eye contact with a few through the data. audience members who seem eager to hear what Feeling balanced is important to your self- you have to say. Then plunge in. confidence. Plant your feet firmly on the floor. Let it show that you are excited about your work Break habits such as rocking from foot to foot and the chance of perhaps landing a job working or pacing. with the people in front of you. Make sure you speak clearly and loud enough for Do not worry if some people close their eyes or all in the room to hear. seem uninterested. Continue to give your talk Practice what you will do with your hands so that as you practiced it, making eye contact with those you can break fidgeting habits or the urge to put who are listening closely, even if those who them in your pockets. A computer mouse and a remain engaged are the students, not the leaders. pointer may be enough to keep you from fidget- ing—but be careful not to play with either of them. ANSWERING QUESTIONS Even though you may have done all the work Repeat the question for the audience, as it is often presented, it is important to sound modest in your difficult for other audience members to hear a presentation. Begin by saying, “The work I will tell question asked without benefit of a microphone. you about today was carried out while I was in Then take your time answering. If you need to, buy the lab of X at institution Y.” Then, describe each some more time by asking for a restatement of research slide in terms of “we.” Be aware that the question. In a pinch, give an interpretation of someone may interrupt and ask, “Yes, but what of what you think the questioner wants to know. Take this work did you yourself do?” a moment to think through what you want to say Practice how you will answer questions. It is okay and then speak, formulating a beginning, middle, to answer “I do not know” if you then offer to and end for your answer. Give your best answer find out about any matters of fact later and follow and stop. Rambling on only conveys uncertainty. up with the questioner. It is a great opportunity to If questions are slow in coming, take the initiative make contact with faculty after the interview. by pointing out some aspect of your work that you If you feel you will be very close to your time limit, passed over quickly but that you believe warrants practice deferring questions to the end of the the audience’s attention. This gives you a chance session so that you are not derailed by questions to use some of the material you edited out of your that come up during the talk. talk. You may generate a whole new line of ques- tioning. In case you need to go back through your slides to a particular one in order to clarify a point, arrange to have your slides accessible during the discussion period. 12 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  22. 22. If challenged, listen to the criticism and give a Expect to be interrupted. This kind of talk is a judicious response. Do not become defensive. chance to show that you can think on your feet, Questions are more often asked because the that you respect others, and that you will be an questioner does not understand something than interactive research colleague. Even if you feel because he or she is trying to make a fool of the pressured, do your best to keep things friendly speaker. Give the other person the benefit of the and to keep any disagreements light. Saying “You doubt. If the criticism seems unfair or there is may be right, I may be right—what is the best a disagreement about a matter of fact, stand experiment for settling the matter?” is a good your ground politely. You might suggest a follow- way to turn a disagreement back to the questioner up discussion later. Even if the person is being and to the audience. quite aggressive, you can still try to end the back- and-forth by suggesting that you agree to disagree Meeting Potential Colleagues. If part of the until you can talk later and find out where you are interview process will include one-on-one conver- misunderstanding one another. sations with other researchers who will be at or near your level, it is important to show interest in their work and ask lots of questions. RememberGIVING AN INFORMAL TALK that these potential colleagues are looking forWhen you visit a potential employer, you may someone who will benefit their own work, as wellalso have an opportunity to give a less formal as someone who is a good scientist, and often aspresentation during which you can offer detailed someone who will be pleasant to have as a neigh-information about the direction of your future bor down the hall. You may be taken out to dinnerresearch. Ask before the interview how long you by some of the faculty. This is a chance for themshould talk and make sure that in fact the more to evaluate you as a future colleague and for youformal seminar is not expected. to determine whether you would enjoy working with them. Be yourself during these events, butFor an informal talk, give a brief overview of your also be appropriately respectful and deferential toresearch agenda (which you may have included your would-be colleagues.in your job application as a research proposal).Include in this talk both your short- and long-term Depending on where you are applying, you mayobjectives—both the purpose of the work you are also have a chance to meet students or othertalking about and what you would like to accom- trainees working there.plish during your career. For example, you may beworking on a very detailed signaling pathway, but CONCLUDING YOUR VISITthis work is a small part in your greater interest inhow one microbe causes disease. Understanding Typically, your visit will conclude with a conversa-a tiny phosphorylation event may seem esoteric; tion with the head of the institute or departmentputting it in the context of your long-term interest to which you are applying or with the committeein Dengue fever helps even the least trained person in charge of hiring. Once the visit is over, it mayin the room understand why you are doing the work. be time to wait patiently, because the institution may be interviewing other candidates. In theOnce you have established a sense of perspective, meantime, it is customary in many places thatstate several specific problems you want to work as soon as you return home you write a formalon in the next few years, and explain in detail how letter addressed to the individuals you met duringyou plan to proceed. Be prepared to write on a your visit, thanking everyone for their hospitalitywhite board and bring along an overhead projector and reiterating your interest in the position. Evensheet or two of preliminary data that will demon- if that is not the expected protocol in the placestrate the feasibility of your plan. Show that you you are looking for a job, few individuals areare familiar with the details of any new techniques mortified to receive a formal note of thanks andyou may need to master. Be sure to convey to your you have little to lose by sending one. If duringaudience why the work is important and how yourwork can make a difference to your field. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 13
  23. 23. your one-on-one interviews you have promised to EVALUATING THE OFFERshare data or more information, be sure to followup on your commitment quickly. If being “Johnny- If you are offered a position, you will need to findon-the-spot”—very quick and eager to serve any out as much as possible about the job and therequest—is out of place in the culture in which resources that will be made available to you ifyou will work, still follow up quickly but perhaps you accept it. If you are not satisfied with somenote that the fast follow-up is a sign of your aspects of the offer, try to negotiate better terms,enthusiasm for the question, not a rush to move if you can (this is not possible at all institutions).things along more quickly. You will have to do the following:Be sure to inform those who have interviewed you Learn the details of the offer.if you decide to take another job or if for some other Re-read the list of priorities you made at the outsetreason you decide to withdraw your candidacy. of your search to evaluate how the job stacks upThey may remember you negatively if you give against that list. Is this the job that will work forthem an unpleasant surprise by not revealing your you and for your family?plans until after they have made an offer to you. Calculate precisely what you need in salary and other benefits to determine whether the offerNEGOTIATING YOUR POSITION measures up. For example, can you afford to live in the community on the salary offered? ThinkOnce the head of the institute or of the department about your family’s expenses and other financialwhere you applied has given you a tentative offer, factors that will be important to you in the long run.or at least let you know that you are the top Does the institution provide help in finding orcandidate, you are in a position of maximum paying for housing, fees for children, and, ifstrength for asking for what you need to do your necessary, transportation expenses related to thejob well, both in terms of your salary and technical job? Benefits such as these can be negotiatedresources. In some places it is expected that you in some institutions, but not others. In somemay be able to negotiate some aspects of the job, countries, the idea of asking your institution forwhile in other places it is expected that you will help with any of these things would be absurd,take what is offered. Find out ahead of time what while in others several of them are typically partthe custom is for the position for which you are of what is available.applying. The best way is to ask people in similarpositions in the same area about their own experi- Enumerate in detail the other resources—ences with starting a new position. especially equipment not currently on site or opportunities to travel to places where the properIn some places, there will be very little room for equipment is available—that you believe younegotiation in salary, and there may be no money need to succeed in the scientific work you haveavailable for start-up support. You may be given the planned. Decide what is absolutely necessary andonly space that is available, or there may be some what you can live without. In some cases, it mayroom for negotiating about where your lab will be. be satisfactory for the department to guaranteeYou should gather information beforehand to better you access to shared equipment, rather thanunderstand what is likely to be negotiable. Even buying you your own.when all of the practical details are pre-determined,you may be able to negotiate for more indepen- Make your wishes known to the institution’sdence, or to cluster your responsibilities in ways representatives, and engage them in the processthat leave you more time for research. No matter of negotiating with you. Even in situations wherewhere you go, talking with senior scientists who salary and other personal factors are not nego-are familiar with the institution may help you learn tiable, it is important to clearly indicate any resources without which you will not be able towhere flexibility is available and how to ask for it. do your work, and discuss what will be done to make sure you have access to them. 14 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE
  24. 24. QUESTION q&a How do I distinguish myself from the lab that I trained in if I want to continue in the same research area? ANSWER Get a letter from your mentor explaining that he or she is pleased to know that you will be continuing to work on project X, which he or she will not pursue. Have this discussion with your mentor before you start to write the grant application.As much as possible, get everything spelled out You may need to do some homework to rule outin writing—it helps both you and your employer to problems that may not have been revealed duringbe clear on what is promised and expected from your discussions with people at the institutionboth sides. This is true even if you are getting where you have received an offer. For example, it“the standard package” and no negotiations will would be helpful to know if the working group hastake place. experienced internal personal conflicts recently, if the organization has financial problems, if the headFor physicians in clinical departments, job discus-sions should indicate the extent of clinical duties is retiring or stepping down soon, whether keyand clinical support, time to be spent at outlying leadership or staff members are about to leaveclinics, and so on. or retire, and the rate of staff turnover, including what levels of staff leave most frequently andAsk for a copy of a manual that spells out the why. You also want to know whether people whoinstitution’s or department’s policies for its staff, if have worked in the institution and departmentsuch a document exists. If it does not, make sure have been happy, well-supported, and successful.you know who you will need to see, what forms Use the grapevine—talk to people you met duringyou will need to fill out, etc., to get yourself situ- your interview visit, and talk with others recentlyated at the institution. Often finding someone affiliated with your potential department andwho is willing to act as a “big brother” or “big institution. Be discreet, but be straightforward.sister” as you settle in is the most useful way to You do not want to be surprised, especially if therego about learning the written and unwritten rules are issues that are not “deal breakers” but wouldof your new institution, as well as important be better dealt with before you arrive.secrets like where to find the good coffee or whoto call when the power goes out. When you are contacted with an offer, you might be asked for a second interview. This time, youIt may be that your job is very large. For example, will be able to ask more detailed questions aboutyou may be hired to be the person for an important the position. Talk with key people in your prospec-disease in your country. Even in cases like that, tive department, and have a preliminary look atyou will need resources well beyond your job title available housing. A second interview visit is anto get your work done. It may be easier to discuss excellent time to start the discussion aboutthose resources before you agree to take the job what you will need in terms of laboratory space,than it will ever be after you have done so. materials and equipment, and staff. GETTING STARTED: FINDING AND MOVING INTO A JOB 15
  25. 25. Are you responsible for obtaining money for your If talking directly about money is not salary through grants, or will your institution socially acceptable in a given place, what provide it? kind of conversation could yield some If your institution provides it, what is the amount general numbers without showing your of your base pay (this may determine future raises) hand or asking someone else to? and is that base pay tied to a particular grant or You can engage in a conversation with human other funding source that may expire? resource personnel in a relaxed environment (away from the work environment) where Can the salary be negotiated or is it a set amount you can talk about your vision of the research for the type of position you are being offered? group that you will be leading. This group will What benefits come with the position? be in various grades and will also have differ- ent career advancement requirements as well Can you supplement your salary from other as salary scales. On the pretext of this line sources, for example by consulting or teaching or of discussion try to find out (how advance- working in an unrelated job? ment works) and where you want to be in the What are your institution’s policies on outside next five years.Also try to get the associated advancement grades and some salary scales. consulting, including how much consulting is In so doing you may be able to estimate the permitted, what approvals are required, and what salaries of those that are above you and thus limitations apply? Are there outside opportunities compare with your own salary. It is much that are explicitly not allowed? easier to find out what salaries those you Salary. If your salary is negotiable, you should ” supervise earn than those who supervise you. seek out sources of information you can use to evaluate your initial offer. Salaries differ not only Susan Mutambu, Zimbabwe from country to country, but even within the same country they can vary widely depending on degree, geographical location, type of institution (public vs. private, research institute vs. universityWHAT YOU NEED TO FIND OUT vs. hospital), and scientific discipline. To evaluateHere are some of the details you will need to the salary offered, you need comparative informa-ask about. tion on starting faculty salaries at the institution offering you the job and in your field elsewhere,The Appointment. You need to know the following: as well as on costs of living. What your job title implies about your independence Salary numbers are confidential in many institu- and authority, length of your expected relationship tions, but it can be useful to draw on friends and with the place where you are working, and expec- colleagues to at least get an idea of the appropriate tations about your role(s) within the organization. range. The length of your initial term of employment. Research Money and Facilities. In some The terms under which the organization’s commit- countries, an institution is expected to provide an ment to you will be renewed or not renewed. investigator who is just starting his or her own lab with some money for hiring workers and forThe Salary. You need to pin down the following: buying supplies and other resources such as office and lab space, equipment, computers and soft- Is the salary guaranteed, and if so, for how long? ware, a technician and other support staff, help In other words, you need to know whether part in obtaining grants, and support for travel to con- of your salary and other support must eventually be obtained from other sources. ferences and meetings. This kind of institutional support may be ongoing, or it may be available only for a pre-determined period of time, after which the head of the lab is expected to obtain funds through other sources, such as grants. 16 EXCELLENCE EVERYWHERE

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