“If you have a good science education then the world is your oyster, and you can do almost anything.” – Tanja Beshear, physicist working in industry
‘Turning Science into Things People Need,’ is a project exploring scientists who chose a career in industry instead of the ‘traditional’ academic path. I’m interviewing 25 of these successful scientists to get their stories and understand:
- Skills and attributes of a scientist that are useful in industry
- Roles in a commercial organization that are suited to a scientist
- Skills and habits that a scientist should develop to be successful in industry
As I work towards completing the book, I will post interview excerpts and other thoughts about careers in the private sector on this site. Check back often, and thank you for visiting!
Many early career scientists wanting to build a career in industry approach it with some trepidation because they worry that their experience working an a university research lab won’t be seen as relevant to a hiring manager who needs people to design hardware for sale. This is a relevant concern, but need not put an end to career aspirations.
The key is to tell better stories with the same facts.
Don’t list the research hardware you learned to operate, or describe the obscure aspect of quantum physics that you understand better than anyone else in the field. Tell them how you developed a plan to deliver results that nobody had demonstrated before. Tell them how you worked through unforeseen problems and got the results you were after. Tell them how you found others who knew more about things you didn’t, and you convinced them to help you get the project done.
Not only will you be telling a story that addresses problems they have on a regular basis, but you show them that you can move beyond the academic world and understand the world they live in and you would like to work in.
I have much more to say about this one. Stay tuned…