Careers in Biology: Tips from Sciences Employers

BPAE cells

Each year, Career & Leadership Development compiles an Annual Report of Employment & Continuing Education, a record of where the past year’s graduates are employed or are attending graduate or professional school. Here is a sample of where some of the biology grads from the past several years were employed after graduation:

I recently contacted some of the employers that have hired UW-W science grads, and here are some selected comments from them about employment preparation.

Online Image

  • Facebook is fine, but control access and privacy, and pay attention to what’s on your page. If you’d be embarrassed for your mother to see it, it is most likely not going to make a good impression on an employer.
  • LinkedIn – Use it! This is where you can really refine your professional online presence. Highlight your education, publications, accomplishments, and get recommendations from reputable sources (professors, respected researchers) as appropriate. Read LinkedIn profiles of recent grads from your major/profession to get an idea of what should be present on your page.
  • Twitter is good too, but tweets should be relevant. Tweeting every weekend about how awesome the latest party was won’t help you in the long run.

Resumes

  • Creative resume formats are not rewarded in science professions. Your resume should be professional, clean, and very easy to read.
  • Highlight your research topics and skills along with your talents and accomplishments.
  • Be succinct. Writing should be short and to the point. Run-on sentences or entire paragraphs will just get glossed over by a hiring manager.
  • Employers don’t care about anything from your high school unless you are an undergraduate looking for internships.

References

  • Be sure to contact your references to verify that their contact information is correct and to inform them that they may be contacted to serve as a reference. It is always most professional to ask permission of each person you desire to use as a reference. You want your references to be prepared to speak to your strengths.
  • Once a person agrees to serve as a reference, you should help them understand the company and type of role you are pursuing. This will allow the referee to tailor their comments accordingly.

Interviews

  • Go through mock interviews. Ask a career counselor, professor, or science professional to interview you as if they might hire you. Ask for honest feedback after the fact about your interview performance and demeanor. Make sure you do not have any nervous habits that can be distracting to a potential employer.
  • It’s difficult to overcome an unfavorable first impression. Portraying yourself in a professional manner is crucial for a successful interview. A significant part of a hiring decision is based on grooming, clothing, accessories, body language, eye contact and listening skills. It is important to carefully plan the professional image you want to project. Campus clothing and work clothing are two completely different worlds. Unfortunately, many recent grads underestimate the importance of conservative, professional clothing when interviewing.
  • Get a suit or other appropriate business attire. This is especially important when trying to get a job in industry. Showing up in jeans and your “nice” shirt will not send the message that you are serious. Consider the money for a good interview outfit to be an investment in your future.

Several science employers have scheduled recruitment visits to UW-Whitewater in April, and several others are in the process of scheduling. Watch for announcements for those events, and be prepared to impress the employers based upon the tips that they’ve provided.

Photo by Joseph Elsbernd.