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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Career Advice You Need a Game Plan By Jennifer. A. Hobin, Cynthia. N. Fuhrmann, Bill Lindstaedt, Philip S. Clifford September 07, 2012

This is the first article in a series designed to help you create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) using myIDP, a new Web-based career-planning tool created to help graduate students and postdocs in the sciences define and pursue their career goals. To learn more about myIDP and begin the career-planning process, please visit:http://myidp.sciencecareers.org.
Scientific careers are not like the board game Monopoly. In Monopoly, the rules are clear and it’s relatively easy to succeed; in fact you get $200 just for hanging in there long enough to pass “Go” on your way to the next round. But in science, it often seems there are no definite rules and there’s no guaranteed payoff for advancing to the next training round: Ph.D., postdoc, second postdoc—then what? To succeed in science, you need to have a game plan. This is especially true in the current research environment.

Challenges facing today's doctoral trainees

For scientists, finishing a Ph.D. or postdoc and automatically moving on to a research-faculty position is no longer the norm. In fact, the share of all U.S. science and engineering doctorate recipients working in academe dropped from 55% to 44% between 1973 and 2008;1 that percentage includes postdocs, staff scientists, research and teaching faculty, and administrators. Within academe, the proportion of scientists employed in tenured or tenure-track positions has also declined (see Table 1), likely reflecting a growth in postdoctoral, staff scientist, and other non–tenure-track slots. And with a growing population of talented trainees poised to enter the job market, the competition for sought-after academic jobs is tough. The good news is that, just like in Monopoly, there are a multitude of options from which scientists can choose when deciding on a career, and it is not uncommon for Ph.D.-level trainees to pursue nontraditional paths. 2

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