Discover more stories about Mitacs — and the game-changing innovations driven by students and postdocs.
Reposted with permission from Re-Spect Science
If you are pursuing a master’s or a doctoral degree like me, we tend to treat our graduate studies like a full-time job. Although universities do as much as they can, I feel that it is our job as graduate students to gain experience beyond what is provided with the university and the requirements of the degree, to get more out of our graduate program. Yes, publications do look impressive and are high-priority, but in reality, it is about who knows who. Today’s post is about what will help: NETWORKING.
(I know you really weren’t surprised since it’s in the title of my blog!)
So outside of your thesis and science bubble, I’ve made a check-list of ways to get more out of your graduate program or if you want to simply expand your professional network. Some I have learned through personal experiences and others through a Mitacs Networking workshop hosted by Dr. Jennifer Gardy (follow her tweets at @jennifergardy).
1. Serve on an executive board, a student group or student council to build your portfolio
This shows potential employers that you have leadership qualities and have skills that go beyond your research. It promotes interaction with other scientists who aren’t related to your research directly, but may become future collaborators.
2. Attend student networking events
Meet students outside of your research scope. Be personable and genuinely converse with other attendees. It’s important to have a broad exposure to different scientific backgrounds. These events could also promote collaborative work in the future: perhaps writing a review with someone in a related field or performing certain experiments to get authorship on future publications. The scientific community is full of many people with similar interests and connections so don’t be afraid to make it work for you.
3. Create a social media presence to disseminate your work
Yes, scientists are embracing the social scene. There are multiple avenues to use:
If you aren’t social media-savvy, I would highly recommend LinkedIn and Research Gate to showcase your research publications and scientific progress.
4. Business/contact cards
So if you have been networking, you might have met someone who has perks at a print shop. But like most of us, that probably isn’t the case. Here are two types of business cards that I think are worth looking into:
The type of business/contact card you hand out will depend on the event setting and the type of conversation you have with whom you hand the card to.
One important item I would like to address would be to separate your professional and personal life on social media. I would recommend using your real name for professional websites/social media platforms, and then an alternative alias name for personal social media websites. Take a second to Google your name to see what you are associated with, as potential employers may do the same.
In summary, don’t let your graduate training be just about collecting and analyzing experimental/clinical data (yes, I know that it is still important). It should be about creating opportunities for yourself that aren’t otherwise taught in a classroom or lab/clinical setting.
Register for workshops on networking or on science communication skills, as these will improve your poster or oral presentations at conferences. Along with your CV/resume, getting a faculty position or a job at a company might be through the network you have created.
Wajihah Mughal is a doctoral student at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science. She’s also the co-founder of Re-Spect Science, a blog dedicated to capturing how science affects our everyday lives. Connect with Wajihah on Twitter at @Spidey_Cell.