NIEHS Biomedical Career Symposium draws hundreds
By Monica Frazier
The 17th annual NIEHS Biomedical Career Symposium opened April 25 with a warm welcome from NIEHS Scientific Director Darryl Zeldin, M.D. An estimated 350 attendees, eager for professional advice on next steps in their careers, filled the meeting rooms at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Zeldin challenged participants to design and commit to a plan for transition to a rewarding career in the biomedical sciences. “For many of you, the decisions you make over the next year or two will shape your lives as scientists for decades to come,” Zeldin said. “Better understanding of the various options available to you, and what it takes to pursue specific career paths, is absolutely essential for making those important decisions.”
Transitions through networking
Kristin Gabor, Ph.D., co-chair of the event, reiterated Zeldin’s remarks, noting that this year’s symposium focused on successful transitions into a variety of career paths. One foundation for a career transition is the development of a professional network, which is why the committee invited Alaina Levine, president of Quantum Success Solutions and author of the upcoming book “Networking for Nerds,” to deliver the keynote address.
Levine’s talk, “Accessing Hidden Career Opportunities Through Networking and Reputation Management” set the tone for the day. Using a medley of stories from her own experiences — and her signature comedic style — Levine entertained the audience, while educating them on the value of networking and self-branding.
“Upwards of 90 percent of jobs are gotten through hidden opportunities, which are made available to you from networking,” Levine said. She told how admiring the shoes of the woman next to her on a flight led to paying work — the shoes were on the feet of a congressman’s wife who needed help using humor in her speeches.
“You need diverse influences and diverse sources of inspiration — people who can give you new ideas and help you solve the problems you are trying to solve in your scientific discipline,” Levine added. “This diversity of sources comes from networking.”
Something for everyone
The day was packed with sessions, including 10 expert panels from various career paths, 10 career development workshops, and a networking reception featuring exhibitors from local groups and companies.
“We sought out speakers on a range of topics to support career transitions, from how to network and how to interview, to what steps to take to land that job,” said Gabor. “While we wanted our workshops to meet varied interests, the primary goal was to showcase the plethora of opportunities available to those with a biomedical degree,” she added.
Organizers also arranged for 25 professionals to review CVs and resumes of more than 175 participants. The reviewers were categorized so attendees could choose the most appropriate expert in their desired career path, whether industry, government, or academia.
The annual event, which is planned, organized, and carried out by NIEHS and EPA postdoctoral fellows, was an impressive display of teamwork and dedication to educating the scientific community about career opportunities and advancement strategies.
Co-chairs Gabor and Bethany Hsia, Ph.D., led a 25-member committee (see text box), which began work last fall. Committee members selected and invited panelists, organized arts and photography, managed facility resources, and led social media advertisement, earning transferable skills and developing contacts that will help them in their own career development.
The committee’s collaboration and effort was praised by Tammy Collins, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS Office of Fellows’ Career Development. Collins assisted in behind-the-scenes planning and logistics, and the co-chairs noted that Collins’ experience and advice were invaluable.
(Monica Frazier, Ph.D., is an Intramural Research Training Award fellow in the NIEHS Mechanisms of Mutation Group.)
|17th Annual NIEHS Career Symposium Planning Committee|
|Kristin Gabor, Ph.D. — Co-chair||Bethany Hsia, Ph.D. — Co-chair|
|Kelly Daughtry, Ph.D.||Shannon Farris, Ph.D.|
|Emmi Felker-Quinn, Ph.D.||Monica Frazier, Ph.D.|
|George Fromm, Ph.D.||Samuel Gattis, Ph.D.|
|Eugene Gibbs-Flournoy, Ph.D.||Kymberly Gowdy, Ph.D.|
|Juhee Haam, Ph.D.||Sophia Harlid, Ph.D.|
|Melissa Hausburg, Ph.D.||Kristin Lichti-Kaiser, Ph.D.|
|Julie Lowe, Ph.D.||Shaun McCullough, Ph.D.|
|Marie McGee, Ph.D.||Jennifer Nichols, Ph.D.|
|Clinton Orebaugh, Ph.D.||Simone Otto, Ph.D.|
|Samantha Snow, Ph.D.||Natacha Steinckwich-Besancon, Ph.D.|
|Katoria Tatum-Gibbs, Ph.D.||Kirsten Verhein, Ph.D.|
|Staton Wade Ph.D.||Jeremy Weaver, Ph.D.|
|Lauren Wilson, Ph.D.|