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Stepping outside of academia in the comfort of your own room – Virtual Job Summit!

You know that an academic life may not be the right one for you, but what do you do now?

For many people, myself included, the academic path has been a straightforward one that offered little opportunity to learn about the other career choices available in the world.  Even as I knew I wanted to leave bench science, at first I didn’t know where to look or where to go.  And when I did search for opportunities, I ended up searching for only things directly related to biology. (Which you don’t have to do!)

By chance, one of the first things that popped up from my search was, which at the time was hosting its first Virtual Job Summit for life scientists.  At first I hesitated:  Can an online event really land me a job?  Can I really learn anything from attending this that I can’t learn from reading online articles?  I looked at the list of employer booths, found a few to be interesting, then I signed up.

At the Job Summit I was offered a position.  More specifically I was offered a second round interview where I can visit the facilities.  Did I take it?  No.  It was a position in Korea and it was still bench science (although I was tempted by the free car and housing and impressive title).  But I certainly learned a lot from the experience.

  1. I learned how to prepare for interviews.  Before the job summit I did some online research on the companies that I was interested in (which you should do as well).  There were a few things I was interested in, but was not available anywhere online.  These were the questions I asked during the job summit, which made me stand out amongst the crowd.  Additionally, there’s stuff about how to dress and what not to say and stuff that I ended up learning about in preparation for the summit.
  2. It was my first non-academic interview – having this experience under my belt strengthened my skills for future interviews.  I felt more comfortable at the job summit because it was online, then I felt more at ease at my next real life interview because I’ve already experienced something similar.
  3. I learned about the company.  I was able to connect with industry leaders by sharing the insights I gained on the company, and even a year later, I was able to apply my knowledge of the company in management consulting case studies.

If there’s only one thing you remember from this blog post, it should be this:  never turn down an opportunity if you can help it.  There’s always something to learn even if it doesn’t directly relate to what you are doing now, and it’s one of the best ways to connect with people.

This spring, I’ve again registered for the Virtual Job Summit (going on now).  Take hold of this great opportunity, you never know what you’ll get out of it!

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