LinkedIn for Early Career Scientists: Advice from Promega’s Interns

Laptop computer displaying logo of LinkedIn, an American business and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps

In today’s world of social networking, LinkedIn has emerged as the clear winner for professionals in all industries. With its powerful networking capabilities and innovative career development features, LinkedIn has revolutionized how individuals connect, collaborate and advance their careers.

In this blog you will hear from some of Promega’s interns as they share valuable advice for early career scientists looking to expand their network, establish meaningful connections and propel their career forward.

Meet the Interns

Simone Shen
Position at Promega: Research Scientist Intern
University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Area of Study: Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology
Academic Year: 4th year PhD student

Rachel Carrier
Position at Promega: Product Marketing Intern, Genomic Solutions
University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Area of Study: Operations & Technology Management and Life Sciences Communication
Academic Year: Undergraduate Senior

Kendra Hanslik
Position at Promega: Cell Health & Functional Analysis Marketing Intern
University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Area of Study: Neuroscience
Academic Year: 5th year PhD Student

Jorge Antonio
Position at Promega: Research Scientist Intern, R&D Assay Design
University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Area of Study: Reproductive Physiology
Academic Year: PhD Candidate

How do you see other Scientists/Professionals using LinkedIn?

Simone: “LinkedIn is kind of like professional Facebook for scientists. As an example, instead of posting pictures about their beloved pets or reposting funny viral videos, people are posting pictures of themselves in front of their poster at a scientific conference or reposting career or professional development opportunities on LinkedIn.”

Rachel: “I see my network of emerging young professionals using LinkedIn to showcase their accomplishments, spread ideas and voice opinions. It’s a great platform to stay connected with people and see what they’re up to in their career development journey. I’ve loved staying up to date on my peers’ accomplishments and goals, while also learning about other fields outside my typical interests through the content they share.

Many industry leaders I follow post about new developments in the science and technology field, process improvements, and product launches, which helps to keep my knowledge current and well-rounded outside of academia and the news. Those who are more established in their career sometimes take on a role of spreading helpful tips and industry knowledge which helps inspire and inform those earlier in their career.”

Kendra: “Scientists and other professionals use LinkedIn in a variety of ways. It is a great place to keep in touch with previous colleagues and to follow their career progress. After all, you never know when you will need to recruit for a position or be interested in getting your foot in the door with a company they’re working for down the road. LinkedIn also provides a space for you to share your scientific research and to elaborate on your professional experience, which is helpful for employers who may not be asking for a CV and want to know more. I have seen scientists share job postings on LinkedIn too, so it is a place to consider for job searching.”

Jorge: “Networking is everything, and LinkedIn is a platform that helps individuals connect with colleagues, researchers, industry professionals and potential collaborators. I think it is a very easy way to connect with colleagues and explore potential collaborations. The platform also offers some interesting discussions in science specialized fields.”

Why Should an Early Career Scientist use LinkedIn?

Simone: “We often hear people say that it is important to “network,” but for early career scientists, where can we even start? LinkedIn can be a great place to start. [LinkedIn] can be especially beneficial for early career scientists to start building their network since it can be a lot less daunting to shoot someone a message on LinkedIn versus knocking on someone’s office door. Besides that, LinkedIn is also an easy way to search for job openings and professional development opportunities.”

Rachel: “It’s a great platform for staying engaged in career development outside of your organization and forming meaningful connections. I’ve found that by building and staying connected with my LinkedIn network, I’m able to develop meaningful relationships that help guide me in the direction I want to go in my career. From developing mentor/mentee relationships with people whose work I’m inspired by to staying connected with past employers, LinkedIn is an extremely useful tool for anyone early in their career looking to explore and learn.

LinkedIn also has a learning platform where you can take short courses and earn certificates from industry leaders in a variety of disciplines. This is another great benefit if you’re looking to dip your toe in the water of other skills outside of your field or strengthen ones you already have.”

Kendra: “As a budding scientist, it is crucial to make connections as these may turn into collaborations later in your career or provide you with a professional development opportunity in the future. With science becoming increasingly collaborative, LinkedIn is necessary for expanding your professional network and broadening your future career opportunities.”

Jorge: “LinkedIn is free and easy to use. Academic institutions, research centers, and other companies use LinkedIn to advertise job openings and recruit talent. Scientists can explore career opportunities, receive notifications about relevant positions, and showcase their skills and expertise to attract potential employers. Scientists can also follow trends in their field of interest.”

How are you using LinkedIn to build your network and/or showcase your scientific work? 

Simone: “When I go to conferences, I would include a QR code for my LinkedIn profile on my poster, so if people who stop by my poster are interested in my work, they could connect with me. LinkedIn is a great way to stay in contact with people. You never know when one of your connections could help you land an interview for a position at a company.”

Rachel: “I’ve stayed diligent connecting with those I meet throughout my academic and interning journey over the years as a way to build my network for gaining advice, mentorships, and keeping up to date on what companies are up to.”

Kendra: “I primarily use LinkedIn to connect with professionals I may want to contact in the future. I add connections that I meet around campus and at professional development events. To me, LinkedIn is kind of like a phone book. They are contacts you can come back to when you may be looking for a new position or a career change. As a graduate student, I found it helpful for setting up informational interviews to get a better grasp of what I want to pursue post-graduation.”

Jorge: “LinkedIn helps me to stay connected to individuals who live far away or whom I haven’t seen in a while. Posting about my research is a way I can show my academic progress and leadership skills.”

What advice would you give to an early career scientist trying to build their network and/or showcase their scientific work on LinkedIn?

Simone: “I would recommend keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date and don’t be afraid to send people an invitation to connect. Additionally, following companies’ LinkedIn pages can be another way to stay informed on potential career opportunities.”

Rachel: “I would advise early career professionals to take advantage of all the features LinkedIn has to offer. It’s easy to fire off a connection to someone and forget about it a few hours later, but starting a conversation and engaging with the people you connect with can help foster a much more meaningful connection. Especially for those of us who are very early in their career development, many people are eager to give advice or share their experiences.”

Kendra: “Building a network can be scary, especially for those who tend to be introverted. You tend to get into your head about the entire interaction. Well, the truth is that we’re all humans looking to connect and people really like to share their story. So, ask questions and listen, just be a normal human who cares and is curious to learn from others. Never hesitate to ask someone to grab a coffee so you can learn about their career path. The best advice to remember is that “the worst they can say is no.” You take yourself out of the equation immediately if you don’t ask.”

Jorge: “Be proactive and serious about professional connections on LinkedIn. Ask for connections with colleagues and mentors. Reach out to colleagues, classmates, professors and mentors from your academic and research circles.

LinkedIn is a great place to show your values and career goals. Make your LinkedIn profile honest, not perfect. Showcase your educational background, research experience, skills and achievements. Include keywords related to your field of expertise, but don’t forget to update these if your career changes direction.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating a profile and building your network, take this final piece of advice from Kendra: “Take baby steps and don’t overthink it. If you are just starting to focus on building your LinkedIn profile, choose a goal then break it down into smaller tasks that you can conquer over time.” 

Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to an impressive profile, meaningful connections, and countless new opportunities.

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Sara Christenson

Sara Christenson

YouTube Optimization & Social Media Intern at Promega Corporation
Sara is a Marketing Coordinator at Promega. She earned her B.S. in Life Sciences Communication and a certificate in Digital Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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