Apologies for the miss last week; a hectic day of experiments kept me away from the blog. To make up for it, today’s Wednesday ORF will be a double header, featuring two short but interesting articles, both of which are worth a read! This first article comes to you from the NatureJobs blog (a personal favorite of mine for career advice).
I’ve written on this blog once before about the dim career prospects facing early-career scientists, and linked to some different proposals that have been put forth for managing the apparent input-output issue we face as biomedical researchers. As (nearly) Ph.D.s, we’re presented with a potentially dizzying number of post-graduate options: industry research, perhaps, or teaching, or consulting, or editing, or any number of other applied-science fields. And often, there’s not all that much guidance from the academy for those students who may wish to pursue one of those other tracks. While that’ll merit its own article, in time, today we focus on one particular parallel career path: that of science communication. If you’re having trouble thinking of science communicators, consider that Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye might all be well-described by that moniker.
“What Isn’t Science Communication?” is yet another dispatch from the popular, successful, and now-annual NatureJobs Career Expo in London (see all articles under the hashtag #NJCE14). The article offers a summary of a panel that took place during the Expo, and that featured professional science communicators from a variety of industries. As I’ve been looking into becoming a “professional communicator” myself, I find their insights both heartening and grounding. The take-home point: science communication is a lot easier to define by what it ISN’T than by what it IS. It ISN’T just print media any longer, it ISN’T a sure thing, and it ISN’T “the easy alternative” to a research career. It’s often grueling, time-consuming, and promises at least as insecure a future as academia. It’s something with no set path, that you may cobble together from a job here, some freelance work there, and a good portion of your own dogged determination. Sound hard? It certainly will be. I don’t doubt there will be days when I want to turn back. But what worthwhile enterprise isn’t worth a little blood, sweat, and tears?
Note from EGB: I simply adore the NatureJobs blog and wish I’d been able to attend this conference in person. If you, as I, don’t happen to live across the UK or Europe, though, don’t fret; the NatureJobs Career Expo is coming to us! The first Stateside NJCE took place late last spring, and was successful enough to merit a return to Boston on May 20, 2015. Registration isn’t open yet, but I’ll certainly keep you updated as I learn more. If you’re a graduate student or post-doc considering other paths – or even just curious what those paths are – you might want to block out a day on your calendar.