From PhD to press officer and from postdoc to industry-based scientist.
Anthea Lacchia handed in her PhD thesis to Trinity College Dublin in July 2014. Her research was on goniatite fossils: extinct relatives of squid and cuttlefish. Throughout her graduate studies she spent time doing science writing and editing, contributing to various student publications and editing the science section of Trinity News. Although enjoying science and research, “the more I got involved with science communication, the more I grew to love it. Soon, it began to occupy most of my spare time,” she says. And the experiences she gathered outside of her academic research proved to be crucial for her application to her current role. She has now been working as a press officer at Nature for a month, working with international media and writing press releases for the international weekly journal Nature, allowing her to learn, write about, and promote scientific research. “I moved to a new city, London, and started a new life there,” she says. A move like this comes with a lot of changes and practical matters to organise. But the learning curve at work was also steep: “During my first few weeks at Nature, I have had to rapidly learn new skills and procedures, which was certainly challenging at times. It took at least two or three weeks before I started to feel on top of things and understand the various aspects of my role, and I am still learning every day.”
Until Christmas 2014, when funding ran dry, Tim Mak was a postdoc at the University of Cambridge, collaborating with the Sanger Institute in the UK. He was investigating the role of gut microbiota in paediatric inflammatory bowel diseases. Whilst applying for a new job, Tim went back to Malaysia to spend time with families and friends. Whilst in academia, he had moved into the “comfort zone” and even though he wanted to know more about working in industry, he had doubts on getting a job outside the academia world. “It has more focused goals and less publication-oriented goals. It also focuses on translational research rather than basic research,” he says. His doubts didn’t stop him from applying though, and soon he was offered a scientist job at the Janssen Prevention Center, Netherlands, which he started in July 2015. Yet even for someone as well travelled as Tim (he’s lived in Australia, Germany, Denmark, USA and UK) it hasn’t been an easy transition. “I have been struggling with the visa issue in Europe since I am not an European.” Not only that, but also adapting to new environment (workplace, foreign country and foreign language). Even though I have experience in adapting into a number of different countries during my academic career, I still find it challenging to do so.”
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