Finding employment as a scientist is not easy, nor does it happen quickly, but you can get started by doing some research and preparing yourself.
Becoming a scientist entails more than just learning about science at school before college and studying biology or chemistry in university. There are many different careers that make up the field of scientific research so it is not enough simply knowing these two subjects!
With over one million jobs available for scientists nationwide, there are lots of opportunities out there. You do not need to be professionally trained in a specific area of research to work as an engineer, accountant, researcher or administrator in a particular field.
Finding a job position as a scientist is mostly about being professional, engaging in social activities and understanding how to promote your own profile. Plus, being able to communicate well and present information clearly comes naturally to most people, which makes it easier to succeed.
Scientific research is a constantly changing field with new technologies and strategies coming and going, making it hard to keep up-to-date with what positions exist and what employers look for.
Find a research lab
Finding an entry-level position in scientific research is not easy, nor does it happen overnight. You will have to put in significant time into finding your perfect match!
There are many ways to find out about opportunities for employment within academic or pharmaceutical research labs. Many universities and companies list their job openings online, so you can check those sites to see what positions they have.
Another way to look for work is by talking to people who work at similar facilities. Your friends, family members, and colleagues may know of open positions that could use someone with your skill set.
And lastly, you can always just ask! Going up to a scientist and asking if there are any jobs available can be a totally legitimate way to find out.
After all, scientists are trained in doing their own research and coming up with new ideas, so they’re likely to appreciate being informed about other opportunities like this.
Prepare a resume
A résumé is one of the most important documents you will ever write because it is your very first impression with every potential employer. Therefore, make sure yours reflects you well and highlights your strengths as a person.
You do not need to include every job that you have had, but be honest and clear about what you are seeking and who can help you achieve your goal.
It is also helpful to know what scientific research career paths there are so people can refer to them and get inspiration from others’ careers. This article will talk more about these pathways.
A great way to get your foot in the door for research is to practice interviews. Companies hire candidates all of the time, so why not use those applications as opportunities?
Most scientific researchers will ask potential candidates some general questions about them before bringing up the job opening. These types of questions can include things like “What are you looking for in this position” or “Why do you want this company/positon”.
By practicing these answers ahead of time, you’ll be more prepared when your chance comes!
Scientific research positions often require advanced degrees such as Masters or Ph.D.s. Make sure that you emphasize this during the interview process to show off your skills.
Some other important qualities that employers look for are communication skills, teamwork, problem solving, and versatility.
Dress the part
Looking professional is an important first step towards landing your dream job. When you dress for work, put effort into making it nice but not over-the-top or flashy.
If you have to buy something new, make sure it is neutral colors that go with many styles. A white shirt and black shoes are classic, easy to match while still looking formal.
You do not want to look too casual or dress up more than necessary so that people can tell you are trying hard to impress them. Pick one style of clothing that fits well and repeat it until you feel comfortable in it.
Many academic positions require you to dress professionally most of the time, even when you are off duty. This includes wearing appropriate business attire during interviews.
Dressing like someone who works in science will help others identify as such, which is a good way to gain trust. People also evaluate others by their appearance, so try to be consistent with this rule.
Know how to work with scientists
As mentioned before, scientific research includes various components that encompass many different fields. These include laboratory work like working with chemicals or genetics, analyzing surveys or experiments, designing new studies, and writing up findings.
All of these areas require you to be familiar with the field and what other experts have done before. You can pick up some knowledge through studying courses at university or via talking to colleagues in your area.
By being aware of the basics of each field, as well as who is doing what where, you will know how to get into scientific research. If there are specific positions available, you can also search online for openings to see if they offer training.
Be a good team player
Being a scientist means being able to work as part of a team, which can be difficult at times due to scientific research requiring significant resources and collaborations with other scientists and professionals outside of academia.
As a recent graduate, you will need to prove yourself as an effective member of this team. You may have to put your ego aside and accept that you do not hold all the answers, and while you want to be involved every time decisions are made, you cannot always assume that role.
You must understand that there is a lot of talent and hard work behind creating new discoveries, and it takes a community to bring ideas to fruition. There will be times when you feel like everything is going wrong and no one seems to care about what you are trying to accomplish. This is why having strong leadership skills is so important!
Good leaders know how to motivate their colleagues, they keep them focused on common goals, and they recognize and reward effort well done. Plus, they are aware of when things aren’t working and they work through changes or shifts in roles to fix the problem.
Being a good leader doesn’t happen overnight but if you are willing to learn from others around you, then eventually you’ll find someone who needs your help and guidance and you’ll get the job done.
Being able as we discussed earlier, to do some pretty cool things with science is one of the most important qualities you can have for being an scientist.
Being creative is very important when it comes to career opportunities in scientific research. You will be called upon to come up with new ideas or concepts, implement them, test them, and then write about your findings.
As such, you should feel comfortable taking chances and trying out new strategies or approaches to see what works and doesn’t work.
In fact, creativity is so important in scientific research that many universities offer specialties in non-science fields like leadership, communication, or marketing because they think professionals in those areas could help inspire others in the field.
Leaders are needed to motivate people more than vice versa, for example, and marketers know how to influence buying decisions so they can promote products for scientists to use.
That’s why there are sometimes job openings for positions like project manager, business development manager, or even senior marketer at academic labs and biotech companies.
Stay up to date with research
Being able as much as possible to work directly with data is one of the most important things you can do to succeed in scientific research. This includes reading papers, conducting your own experiments, and analyzing experimental results.
The more time you spend actively engaging in academic activities, the higher your chances are of being selected for an internship or full-time position. Plus, it’s just plain fun!
By staying informed about what studies have determined about different treatments and strategies, you’ll be adding to our collective knowledge that may someday prove useful in practice. You’ll also help mitigate some of the bias that exists in the field by acknowledging that not all approaches work and should thus be tried.