Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Interested in Interviews? Part 01: Your Skills

Submitted By: Issel Anne Lim, PhD
Department/Affiliation: Radiology / F.M. Kirby Research Center

After finally getting that oh-so-elusive academic degree, we then need to figure out how to get a job. Whether you're trying to get an interview or get the offer, here are a few things to think about: showcasing your skills, customizing your application, and brainstorming your interview answers.

Part 01: Your Skills

Most job applications require your résumé. The first step is to actually have things that you can put on your résumé. These not only look good, but also give you something to talk about at the interview. Join some of the extracurricular governing bodies or nonprofit organizations, like the JohnsHopkins PostDoctoral Association or Association of Women in Science, which let you organize events, create resources, and/or meet lots of interesting people. Leadership positions not only teach you how to manage people and resources, but also help make an impact on the community.

If you're interested in a particular field, make sure that you've got some background in that field. This sounds straightforward, but requires a bit of extra work. For example, if you want a job in consulting, then join the Johns Hopkins Business Consulting Club and practice case reviews; the average applicant needs to do at least 30 case reviews in order to feel prepared for an interview. If you want to do policy work, implement changes through student government, complement existing organizations by organizing events, or supplement your knowledge on what the federal government does. If you're interested in industry, try an internship, network to meet people who hire, go to career fairs. If you want a teaching position, then develop your own curriculum for a class, apply for teaching fellowships or adjunct positions, tutor students, and/or volunteer in teaching programs. If you want to be in academia, publish papers, organize seminars, and network at conferences.

Prepare. Be confident. Meet people. Read, write, and share your science. Communication skills are becoming more and more important as we transition to the digital age. Make a website that showcases your skills -- there are many free site services out there, like Google Sites, which are easy to use.

These are just a few suggestions, of course, and are by no means all-inclusive. The best place to start is talking to people in your field of choice, and seeing how they got to where they are. Maybe they'll even have a few leads on job openings...

[This is the first part of a series of three blog posts that list a few tips on the job-hunting process. Continued in Part 02: Your Application and Part 03: Your Interview]

* A version of this article has also been published in The Transcript, a newsletter from the Hopkins BioTech Network.

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