As a graduate student, I completed my dissertation research in a laboratory external to the chemistry department in the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) at Emory University.Due to this, I nurtured a relationship not only with Emory University’s main career center, but also one with career services at the public health school. I needed and welcomed any guidance available.
Repeatedly, we have heard the maxims, “ask and you shall receive”, “close mouths don’t get fed”, or “knock and the door will be opened” said in one way or another. I proffer the general point in the form of another adage - if you do not ask, the answer will always be no. On more than one occasion, my coworkers, friends, and family have remarked, “Ron, you ask. If I ask the answer will be no. But for some reason when you ask, you always get a ‘yes’.”
From my viewpoint, this is completely dependent on what you need at each step in your educational and professional careers. On beginning undergrad, I had narrowed down my choices between going to the University of Miami (11,380 undergrads in 2015) vs. Mercer University (4,419 undergrads in 2015). Since Mercer was the only school I had visited, I decided to go there.
The major question almost all graduating PhDs face is whether to pursue a career in academia, industry, or government. I’ll discuss pros and cons of each along with some common misconceptions.Many graduate students are under the false impression that most PhDs go into academia. This is because our mentors are professors, and academia is what they know, so in turn, that’s all you learn from them.
In one of my blogs, I briefly wrote about career options and provided a table with various career types and organizations to find these careers. I wanted to focus on what I thought were unique opportunities that I did not know about when I was in graduate school. Just as a quick background, I was a graduate student in the Pharmacology Department and conducted research in the area of neuroscience. I knew I wanted to problem solve, and have a career where I was always learning.
I travel a lot for work. When I interviewed for my current job, I was informed that there would be a lot of travel. “How much?” I asked. “A couple times a month or so. It depends,” they said. I love travelling! Awesome! But what’s the reality? If you get to go to a place you haven’t been or an exotic place…awesome! But most of the time…not awesome!
A career in the federal government can be rewarding and interesting. However, if you’re considering a career in the federal government, here are a few tips to keep in mind. They’re broad generalizations, but you’ll most likely run into at least one of them. Knowing these things in advance can help you prepare coping mechanisms and civil responses!
I knew before I graduated with my Ph.D. that I would not be pursuing a career in academia. When I received an AAAS fellowship and was placed in the Science & Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), I was thrilled…mainly because I got the AAAS fellowship, but I certainly was looking forward to the opportunity to work in the federal government (where I ended up staying for 7-1/2 years, by the way).
While completing my masters in public health (MPG) in epidemiology and biostatistics, I was working in clinical research for pharmaceutical companies in HIV and women's health. I decided to apply for government contracting/consulting jobs in 2008-09. I leveraged my data analysis skills from my MPH program and landed a job as a public health/business analyst with the Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service (IHS) where I worked with Dr. Theresa Cullen on disease surveillance and population health, and wrote an article which was published with MedInfo Journal.