Naturejobs’ visit to the home of technology was a huge success.
We’re thrilled with the way that the Naturejobs career expo – held for the very first time in sunny San Francisco – turned out. We learnt an awful lot about the career options available for researchers in California, both in industry and academia, and found some of the best ways to approach those options and how to maximise your chances of landing a job.
To start the day, Peter Fiske, the CEO of Pax Water Technologies and a regular Nature Careers contributor, reminded us just how special it is to be a researcher and to hold a PhD. All too often people with a doctorate don’t understand how valuable they are – they’ve spent their professional lives as an undergraduate amongst other clever people, then as a graduate student surrounded by gifted scientists, and finally as a member of a highly skilled lab. PhD holders are smart – they just need to realise it.
Next up was Andrew Green of UC Berkeley, who talked us through the value of networking, and gave a great run down of how visitors should take advantage of the Naturejobs career expo. There was a lot for Andrew to talk about – from the camp of exhibitors just outside, waiting to recruit talented, ambitious scientists, to our full conference program, to complementary workshops and CV checking services, we were kept on our feet all day.
To close our opening session, Bill Lindsteadt and Liz Silva of UC San Francisco walked us through a single PhD student’s journey from dissatisfaction to a new career. Bill spoke whilst Liz live-illustrated. Speaking of career transitions, Liz should think about moving over to the comic book industry – those drawings were amazing.
Our two panel discussions – on careers inside and outside of academia – were also hugely popular, with the conference room so packed we ran out of chairs. Our panel speakers and moderators were all great, and we’re looking forward to speaking with them in the future and introducing them to more Naturejobs readers.
Next up was Una Ryan, who spoke us through her career in the biomedical sciences, whilst showing us her scientifically-styled artwork. She wants to put the ‘A’ for arts back in STEM – science and other disciplines aren’t at odds, and there’s a lot we can do together that we simply couldn’t do apart.
Doug Kalish of UC Berkeley was kind enough to offer a lunch and learn session, where we learnt how to negotiate job offers and a higher salary. As we tucked into bagels, he taught us that being open with our employers is the best way to negotiate.
Professor Vivienne Ming – a tech entrepreneur and distinguished scientist – took the stage next. She told us about the lie detection technology she helped to develop with the CIA, and her rather awkward meeting with Obama whilst she was wearing Google Glass. “Should we all make sure to tell the truth from now on?” asked one audience member. “Maybe. Or we could get comfortable with the idea that people know we’re lying.”
We closed our afternoon session with talks from Ruthann Richter – of Stanford University’s press office – and John Bohannon, science journalist. Perhaps not every bridge between press officer and journalist was mended, but they were certainly less at odds than many of our audience expected.
To close the day Vivek Wadhwa – of Stanford and Singularity Universities – spoke about the future and what it meant for careers everywhere. Computing and information technology is set to take over hundreds of industries, and jobseekers and professionals need to stay ahead of the curve if they want to remain competitive against the latest AI.
Overall, the San Francisco Naturejobs career expo was a huge amount of valuable, engaging and helpful fun, and we’re looking forward to coming back next year for more of the same. Until next time!