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Successful Careers beyond the Lab
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Book description

There is a major demand for people with scientific training in a wide range of professions based on and maintaining relations with science. However, there is a lack of good first-hand information about alternative career paths to research. From entrepreneurship, industry and the media to government, public relations, activism and teaching, this is a readable guide to science based skills, lifestyles and career paths. The ever-narrowing pyramid of opportunities within an academic career structure, or the prospect of a life in the laboratory losing its attraction, mean that many who trained in science and engineering now look for alternative careers. Thirty role models who began by studying many different disciplines give personal guidance for graduates, postgraduates and early-career scientists in the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering. This book is an entertaining resource for ideas about, and directions into, the many fields which they may not be aware of or may not have considered.


'This excellent book is directed at those for whom a conventional academic and research career is not necessarily their cup of tea. In it, you can learn how many other opportunities there are for scientists outside the usual academic route. The book is full of first-rate practical advice, emphasising the value of a self-assessment of your skills and interests, and illustrating that there is a major demand for people with training in science in many areas ranging from entrepreneurship and policy to PR and politics. Above all, do something you enjoy and believe is worthwhile, and do not consider yourself a failure because you have not continued in academic research.'

Sir Walter Bodmer - Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine

'The enthusiastic and positive accounts in this book provide ample evidence that there is life beyond the lab, and that it can be a good life: rewarding, fulfilling and richly varied. To take that decision to go where the grass might be greener requires careful thought and the application of your best research skills - to research your own future. This book provides one major source of information, advice and a great range of personal words of guidance to help inform your next step.'

Gordon Chesterman - University of Cambridge Careers Service

'… offers students and early career scientists the indispensable personal experience of more than thirty skilled professionals who started out as academics and ended up in the most varied array of successful professions. Reading about the many routes that a scientist can choose, from becoming an EU-level regulatory expert and lobbyist, to a company founder and multi-millionaire, this book is not only insightful but also inspirational for those eager to branch out from the confines of their science. I wish I had had the opportunity of feasting my eyes on this a quarter of a century ago as I scratched my head as to which way to turn once I left the lab.'

Nathalie Moll - European Association for Bioindustries, Belgium

'If there's one valuable message here it's 'know thyself - but don't dismiss serendipity'. While the advice of careers professionals to analyse skills and preferences is important, the personal stories show just how important it is to keep an open mind and that even the most successful career isn't really planned but relies on a willingness to grasp opportunities. For women, as a minority in the UK STEM workforce, these personal case studies offer reassurance that it's good to take risks and great careers await us all.'

Averil Macdonald, OBE - University of Reading

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(NB Website URLs and contents may change so search for similar if so)

Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services. –
Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services – searchable database of higher education careers services members of AGCAS. –
Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry – Pharmaceutical Industry Career information from the ABPI.
Biochemical Society – Options after a bioscience degree.
Civil Service Fast Stream -
Columbia University – Career Exploration for Ph.D.s in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Disciplines.
Harvard University Office of Career Services –
Michigan State University Career Services Network –
Milkround - Graduate Jobs, Scheme and Internships
Milkround – Graduate recruitment exhibitions.
National Institutes of Health Office of Career Services –
National Postdoctoral Association –
National Union of Students –
Nature – Careers & Jobs.
Nature – Jobs of the Week.
Nature – Open for Business: Postdoc position in industry can teach people skills that they would not learn in academia.
Nature – Transferable skills: What are scientists good at (other than science?).
Royal Society of Biology – Job Search.
Royal Society of Biology – Make a difference with a career in biology.
Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science) – Alternative Careers.
Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science) – Careers.
Science Council – 10 types of scientist.
Stanford Career Education Student Affairs –
Teach First – Our Careers
The Prodigal Academic – “Alternate” careers.
Think Postgrad –
University and College Union –
University of California, San Francisco Office of Career and Professional Development –
University of Cambridge Careers Service –
University of Cambridge Careers Service – The 2017 Cambridge Careers Guide.
University of Cambridge Careers Service – Haven't got a clue?
University of Cambridge Careers Service – Sectors.
University of Oxford Careers Service – Science Alternatives.
Vitae – Focus on planning ahead to manage your career.
Vitae – Realising the potential of researchers.
Vitae Researcher Development International Conference 2017
WISE – a campaign to promote women in science, technology and engineering -
Women Returners –

(NB Website URLs and contents may change so search for similar if so)

Council of Graduate Schools (2017) Professional Development Shaping Effective Programs for STEM Graduate Students
Ernst & Young Global Limited (2017) University students pessimistic about securing their dream job
Fiske, P. (2017) Look before you leap, Nature, 542, 127-129 (2 February 2017)
Higher Education Funding Council for England (2013) Trends in transition from first degree to postgraduate study: Qualifiers between 2002–03 and 2010–11.
Higher Education Funding Council for England (2015), Early career researchers.
National Science Foundation (2015) Survey of Doctorate Recipients.
National Union of Students (2013) Postgraduates who teach.
Nature (2015) Graduate survey: Uncertain futures. Nature 526, 597–600 (22 October 2015).
Nature (2015) Make the most of PhDs. Nature 528, 7 (2 December 2015).
OECD (2015) Education at a Glance 2015, OECD Publishing.
Research Councils UK (2015) The impact of doctoral careers.
Vitae (2013) What do researchers do? Early career progression of doctoral graduates 2013 Register at
Vitae (2015) Careers in Research Online Survey UK aggregate results 2015 for CROS Vitae Register at
Welcome Trust (2016) Monitor Wave 3 Tracking public views on science and biomedical research.
Wise (2014) Women in Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics: The Talent Pipeline from Classroom to Boardroom
Alternative Careers in Science: Leaving the Ivory Tower (Scientific Survival Skills), Robbins-Roth, Cynthia (Academic Press, 1998, 2nd ed., 2005), ISBN-10: 0125893760; ISBN-13: 978-0125893763.
Career Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development, Freedman, Toby (Cold Spring Harbor Press, 2009), ISBN-10: 0879698802; ISBN-13: 978-0879698805.
Career Planning for Research Bioscientists, Blackford, Sarah (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), ISBN: 978-1-4051-9670-3.
Guide to Non-Traditional Careers in Science, Young-Kreeger, Karen (Routledge, 1998), ISBN-10: 1560326700; ISBN-13: 978-1560326700.
Put Your Science to Work: The Take-Charge Career Guide for Scientists, Fiske, Peter (John Wiley & Sons, 2001), ISBN-10: 0875902952; ISBN-13: 978-0875902951.
“So What Are You Going to Do with That?” Finding Careers Outside Academia, Basalla, Susan and Debelius, Maggie (University of Chicago Press, 2007), ISBN-10: 0226038823; ISBN-13: 978-0226038827.


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