Panelists at the 2015 London Naturejobs Career Expo share what they found the most surprising when transitioning to a career in science communication.
Simplicity of communication, the rush of the working environment, the lack of experience with the media and the ability to understand science without a scientific background were the biggest surprises for the careers in science communication panelists at the 2015 London Naturejobs Career Expo.
Belinda Quick thought she was good at taking complex ideas and distilling them into simple, accessible messages. However, during every performance review she’s had whilst working in industry as a science communicator, she’s been told that her messages aren’t simple enough. Everyone’s view of what keeping it simple means can vary dramatically.
For Anke Sparmann, when transitioning from the lab to the magazine, is the difference in time management. In academia, when working at the bench, there are occasionally some down-times when you can relax/rest whilst waiting for an experiment to finish. In publishing, this down-time doesn’t exist. Sparmann constantly finds herself busy with no time to check emails or relax.
When Catherine Ball was working in science, she didn’t believe that those without a scientific background should, or could, make decisions based on scientific evidence. Now, working as a policy analyst, she has realised that they can grasp scientific concepts. “You can be a non-scientists and still be able to understand and use scientific knowledge appropriately.”
For Robert Dawson however, the surprise was the opposite: “The number of people that just don’t get it.” Here he is referring to scientists who don’t understand how the media works. They will come with their month-old research paper to a press office, and ask that it be put on the front pages of the national newspapers. What Dawson finds difficult to deal with is people constantly asking things that are unachievable, and it’s difficult to explain to them why that is the case.
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