Day 5: Critical Skills- Practical Tips For the Lab

Hopefully, the importance of embracing all three aspects of your identity- Technical, Business, and Social, in branding yourself as a high-value asset for any hiring manager is clear.  Your technical acumen will get you considered, and your business and social skills and accomplishments will get you the job.  But how can we use this knowledge right now, in our own lab?

  • Whether you are starting or finishing up your PhD, beginning or wrapping up your postdoc, utilizing these skills can make for smoother waters.  Mastering emotional intelligence can provide for more productive negotiations with your PI, whether it is agreeing on the success criteria for your project (i.e. when am I done), or building rapport that leads to strong endorsements and assistance in your job hunt.
  • Thinking about the strategic value of your projects can guide some of your experimental design, increasing the likely impact of your science, both locally, as well as outside your lab or even your institution.  That in turn can help your job prospects whether they lie within our outside academia.
  • Embracing risk management will allow you to better plan your experimental design, and, along with your PI, make better decisions on whether or not an investigative path is worth pursing, considering what could go wrong, vs the return on investment if it goes right.
  • Pursuing formal or informal collaborations with other labs, whether within your institution or beyond can bring additional insight, value and productivity to your PI’s laboratory program, and provide you with a bigger network, and more experience in working with others, developing rapport, and delegating responsibility.
  • Taking on mentoring opportunities could take some work load off your PI, provide you with valuable experience in enabling others, and reinforce your own self-confidence in your knowledge and expertise in your particular scientific area.  One of the best ways to truly understand the nuance and details of your scientific expertise is to have to explain it to others.  Mentoring provides that opportunity.

All of these opportunities will add to your own body of work, and the associated accomplishments will be demonstrations of your mastery in the three critical skill areas that are so valued by professional organizations, and that make up your brand.

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