Insights into scientific careers

Science professionals in academic and non-academic professions share their experience and advice with early career researchers at EMBL and beyond

A female career advisor at computer participates in webinar
Patricia Cabezas, an EMBL career advisor, moderates discussion in a recent webinar helping advise early-career researchers in an increasingly evolving career landscape. Credit: Kinga Lubowiecka/EMBL

Early career researchers develop a set of technical and non-technical skills that are valuable in a plethora of scientific professions. It can, however, be difficult to visualise what working in these different careers might be like, and to know how best to prepare for the next career step. To facilitate the career planning of early-career researchers, the EMBL Fellows’ Career Service organises a range of career events, inviting scientists to share their experience of and advice on building a career in and outside academia.

In 2020, in response to the pandemic, the Career Service replaced its on-site career events with a series of free webinars. These one-hour online webinars are open to participants from EMBL and from other institutions. Rachel Coulthard-Graf, one of EMBL’s career advisors, reported that currently, 18 % of participants come from EMBL, while 63 % are non-EMBL scientists based in one of EMBL’s member states. The final 19 % tune in from other countries.

“It’s important to support the next generation of scientists here at EMBL, but also beyond,” said Patricia Cabezas, EMBL career advisor. “The pandemic pushed us to try out new formats. These have allowed us now to broaden the audience of our career events to better serve EMBL’s member states, in particular for young scientists who don’t have access to career development activities at their own institutions.”

Nineteen webinars have been held to date. Eight webinars focussed on academic career topics such as ‘How to choose a postdoc’ or ‘Applying to group leader positions’. The remaining 11 webinars each addressed different non-academic careers, such as ‘Careers in pharma and biotech R&D’ or ‘Creative careers in scientific writing and illustration’. Both types of webinar attracted an average of 175 participants per webinar, highlighting the high level of interest from researchers looking for guidance on building a career within academia and researchers who want to explore non-academic options.

“The online format is not only more accessible to participants, but it also allows us to provide a pan-European perspective and invite speakers from different countries,” Coulthard-Graf said. “Since 2020, our webinars have featured 47 speakers based in 15 of EMBL’s member states.”

The Career Service recently organised its first in-person career event since the pandemic but will continue to offer free career webinars in the future. Three webinars to be held still in 2022 include:

Tags: careers, networking, phd, postdoc, predoc, professional development


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