Culture Rules- Investigating Company Cultures

iStock_000025830858SmallWhen searching for a job it’s important to consider the job duties as well as the company and the company’s culture. Two companies have become famous for their cultures—Google and Zappos. Google is known as a company where you work hard in an amazing environment. Oh, and the food is free! Zappos is known as a place where employees are valued, and customer service is the first priority. Here at Promega, science rules, employee well-being is extremely important, and you can make a big impact regardless of your job title.

If you are able to find a company with an appealing culture and similar values to your own, it is a win-win situation. You will likely be happier in your job and therefore a better performer.

Here are some questions that you can ask to learn about the company culture and figure out if it is a fit with your personality and needs. These questions can be asked in an interview or in an informational conversation with someone in your network before you apply for a job. Keep in mind that there is no right answer to these questions. Some people thrive in government jobs while others have more of an entrepreneurial spirit; you need to figure out what type of culture will work best for you. Continue reading “Culture Rules- Investigating Company Cultures”

Networking for Scientists Part I: How I Learned to Talk to Strangers

When thinking about career opportunities in science (and in any field really), solid networking skills can be the key factor in determining where and how you’ll be spending your next holiday.  Networking breaks down into two parts: small talk/meeting people and establishing/maintaining job-relevant connections.  Neither of these things are rocket science, but can be particularly difficult depending on your personality. I realized early on that if I wanted to stay up on the latest, unpublished results, if I wanted to find out what other labs were working on, or if I wanted to know who was looking to fill a position before it was listed, I would need to master this skill.  It took lots of practice, but I now consider myself pretty darn good at this networking thing.  I even used the same strategies I used in the science world to build a network in the local music scene and it worked!  In this post, the first of two parts, I will address small talk. Continue reading “Networking for Scientists Part I: How I Learned to Talk to Strangers”

Following the Unexpected Path: Pipettes, Printers and Beyond

The unexpected path.....
The unexpected path.....

Someone once asked me how I decided to become an editor. My answer was: I didn’t. Sometimes careers just sort of evolve. I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in genetics and moved to San Diego, the city of sun, sea air and biotech. My plan was simple; I was going to get a job doing lab work, and maybe someday I’d take a year off and write my book (Doesn’t everyone have a book they are going to write “someday”?). I loved research; I once wondered aloud how people who sat at desks all day could stay busy. What did they do all day? Were there really that many papers in the world that need shuffling about? In the lab I got to do something different every day: cloning, plasmid preps, cell culture, transfections, RNA preps, Northerns. It was like following a treasure map and not knowing what was under the big “X”. Continue reading “Following the Unexpected Path: Pipettes, Printers and Beyond”

OK, I’ve Got My Degree. Now What?

One of many alternative science careers
One of many alternative science careers

Years ago, when I was in graduate school studying molecular biology, many of my professors seemed to place a lot of value on the traditional career path: several years of post-doctoral fellowships, followed by a career as a tenured faculty member at a big academic institution, with teaching responsibilities and a laboratory, post-doctoral fellows and students. At the time, many of my fellow students and I planned to follow this path and, eventually, become primary investigators and manage our own labs. There was little talk of other career choices. However, after several years of graduate school studies, I realized that, as much as I enjoyed learning and thinking about science, certain aspects of spending 3–6 years as a “post doc”, then managing my own lab and writing grants did not appeal to me. I had to revisit the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

So, what else could I have done with my science degree? Continue reading “OK, I’ve Got My Degree. Now What?”