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.

Leveraging LinkedIn: A Guide for Early Career Scientists

female holding iPhone with LinkedIn screen. LinkedIn helps build portfolio and look for a new job

As an early career scientist, you may have already realized that the key to a successful career is not just an impressive resume or CV, but a strong professional network. In today’s interconnected digital age, there is no better platform to build this network than LinkedIn. With more than 930 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for connecting with professionals in your industry, exploring job opportunities, and building your personal brand. 

In this blog, I’ll cover everything you need to know to establish a strong presence on LinkedIn and achieve your professional goals.

Creating a Strong Profile

Your profile can either make or break your success on LinkedIn. A well-crafted profile has the potential to create lasting impressions and open doors to new career and networking opportunities. Below are a few tips to help you create a profile that is sure to impress potential connections and employers:

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Conferences in the time of COVID-19

Travel and event restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused many scientific conferences to be canceled, delayed or adapted into virtual events. These conferences include the Society of Toxicology (SOT), American Association of Cancer Researchers (AACR), Experimental Biology (EB) and the BioPharmaceutical Emerging Best Practices Association (BEBPA) Bioassay Conference, among many others. For the most up-to-date information, we recommend checking with the hosts of each conference.

These cancellations have disrupted many scientists’ plans to present research, engage with potential collaborators and interact with vendors. At Promega, we’re sensitive to the lost opportunities and are currently exploring potential ways to create these experiences despite so many conferences being canceled.

“We want people to be able to talk directly with us and have the same warm feeling as a close conversation at a conference, but without being face to face,” says Allison Suchon, Promega Tradeshow Manager. “We’re looking at different options to have that same conference feeling but without the show going on around us.”

To make the most of our time while we build solutions, we asked Promega scientists for tips on staying connected and informed when you can’t go to conferences. Here are some ideas we gathered.

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Tales from the Trenches: Career Growth in Biotechnology

Building a successful career in the biotechnology industry is really just a series of transitions from one role to another. But the devil is in the details—when to make a change, how to create opportunities and who can be your champion as you pivot. So how do you navigate these factors to keep your career goals on course?

Bob Weiland answers a question posed by Michele Smith at the MS Biotech Alumni Symposium.

I recently attended a symposium (presented by the University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Biotechnology Program, of which I’m an alum) that addressed this topic through the lens of one individual with a storied career in the industry. Bob Weiland currently serves on the Board of Directors for CymaBay Therapeutics. He has held various roles, from sales and marketing to operations and strategy, within large, established companies (Abbot, Baxter, Takeda) and smaller ones (Pacira Pharmacueticals). He drew on this wide-ranging experience to provide advice to professionals at all career stages.

Bob began the talk by declaring that there will be points in your career when you reach a “hard spot” and will need to transition, whether to a new role, company or even industry, to meet your career goals. He suggested a good starting point is simply to be thinking about making a change. But in the same breath he emphasized, “What are you doing about it?” He identified four distinct actions that you can take to ensure role changes and career transitions support your professional growth and development.

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Networking for Scientists Part II: How to Get a Job (Hopefully)

Times are hard. Unemployment is high. Networking and maintaining job-relevant connections is more important than ever.  Employers literally get hundreds of applications for each job posting.  One of the most useful ways to make yourself stand out in a crowd (besides things like credentials and resumes) is to have a personal recommendation.  In my last post, I talked about the importance of making small talk (no matter how scary it seems!).  Here, we’ll take it a step further. Once you’ve met new people and added them to your contacts list and perhaps your social networking sites, how can you use these contacts to help you achieve your goals? Continue reading “Networking for Scientists Part II: How to Get a Job (Hopefully)”

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”