Category: career

Day 1 of Mental health/networking break: Travel from OK to MA

So yesterday marked the first day of my mental health/networking break in the Boston area. The day was spent traveling—I got up at the early, early hour of basically 3:30am and got to the airport by 4:15 and was through security and sitting at the terminal by 4:40—a full forty minutes before boarding was going to start. Both flights ended up being full, so I checked my duffle bag (with the hopes that it would make it to Boston on time—and it did).

Today was the first time that I’ve flown into Atlanta, Georgia (nice airport for the little that I saw of it—luckily I didn’t have to go to far for the connection to Boston).

                 Souvenirs from Atlanta

I did buy two little souvenirs—a magnet for the fridge, and then a quirky little shot glass. I was very lucky with both flights, that I didn’t have a center seat; I had a window seat from Tulsa to Atlanta, and then an isle seat from Atlanta to Boston. Also with the trip from Atlanta to Boston, I can now say that I’ve flown over most of the upper east coast to get to Boston. The most trying time was waiting to get off the planes (both seats were in the back of the plane), especially in Boston. I think that from the time the plane landed to when I grabbed something to eat it was an hour (that’s how long it took to get off the plane, get to baggage claim, get on the bus to the T stop, get my ticket, get into Boston, and then find something to eat). So I’m currently not that hungry as I’m sitting in my hotel room writing this.

So once I got to North Station to connect to the commuter rail to get out to Salem I noticed that my cell phone had basically died—which meant that I didn’t have my map to pull up to find my way to the hotel (needless to say I did walk probably a quarter of a mile in the wrong direction before asking for directions). Steps are better than yesterday—but still below my average goal (but that is just the way it’s going to be for the current weekend).

So—finally made it to the hotel, and it is a very nice one at that (though missing a few things—namely a microwave in the room (I can do with taking showers since there are no tubs). Since I was late on booking my rooms for this trip, I was very lucky that I was able to find a room for two nights, and decided that I would stay in “The Hotel Salem”. This is a very nice posh hotel basically right in the middle of anything one wants to do in Salem (in terms of sightseeing). There is even a restaurant connect to the hotel, which makes it very easy to go and order an sandwich and take it back to the room (only to find out that the door lock batteries died and you now get to use an actual key to get into your room). Their sandwiches are superb—I ordered the roasted turkey and it was more than enough as it also came with an order of fries. I now have half a sandwich to eat later this week at some point (luckily the room does have a refrigerator so that is where the sandwich is [and hopefully if I don’t eat it tomorrow—I won’t forget it when I check out on Tuesday]).

             Looking down from the loft

Tomorrow’s plans are just sightseeing around Salem, relaxing, and all the other fun stuff one does on a mental health break.

No Comments careerPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmenttravel

Bubble thought approach to job searching

So July is here, and that means that in theory I have less than four months to figure out my transition plan if I want to get a job in industry this fall. As many know this is something that I’ve been slowly trying to figure out since I started this blog last fall—hard to believe it’s almost been a year for that (but that is totally another post for a later date).

One of my biggest problems has been trying to decide if I want to stay within my comfort zone (which would be on the bench doing research) or if I want to start venturing outside of my comfort zone and try something else. Lately I’ve been thinking more and more of trying to venture outside of my comfort zone, but at the same time be “within” other comfort zones (i.e. not taking a job that requires a lot of travel time).

So I decided that I’d try a different way of looking at this—I drew a bubble diagram. You remember those times in English class, when you needed to try to write a story and you tried to connect different ideas together to see which direction you wanted the story to go?? Well that is what I did—I wanted to see if there any ways of trying to connect career paths with things I already enjoyed doing.

Bubble thoughts

So with having basically my hobbies at the bottom of the page, I noticed that I could potentially have more interest in the health economics and outreach research position (as I am trying to focus more on my own health and fitness right now—I don’t want to feel like a hypocrite going into that position (trying to help figure out how to help improve the health of others while ignoring my own); or trying to go into a policy position. If I wanted to try to do that—it would be a position that either helped within the field of conservation biology or science education. As much as I’ve been thinking of getting my alternative certification for teaching science in a K-12 atmosphere—I don’t want to have worry about the potential of school shootings so this one is still a potential, but it’s on the back burner for now.

I wouldn’t mind going into a project management position, as it would still allow me to be close to research, but not necessarily the one doing it. I’ve also decided that if I was going to stay within research, I should think of going into a different sector (background is mainly biomedical/basic life science) and go either agricultural (biofuel or GMO) or potentially into cosmetic or something of that nature.

I know that writing will become a large part of any new position (and probably data analysis as well), so I am going to be trying to post longer blog posts (or new pages) here to help get back into writing. I know that there is a huge difference between creative writing and scientific writing (and that is where my troubles lay) and therefore will be trying to see how many either different types of reviews or even mini articles I can get written and posted this site over the next few months.

In addition, I know that I really do need to start brushing up on the business/healthcare/clinical side of things with the potential of trying to switch to an health economics position. So I made another bubble diagram of things that would be beneficial for me to start trying to either learn or start brushing up on for my transition.

Things to start brushing up on and/or learning

I have already started online courses in both web page design and project management (I just have to finish both courses). The web page design will help in both a science career and also as a potential side business (building web pages for other people). The project management course and certification will help in trying to get into a project management position.

I know that programming will be useful to know (so again I have bought some e-courses; I just have to go sit down and watch all the videos and take notes). I also know that I need to take an statistics course (which I will probably do on-line), and then there are difference business areas that I should at least be familiar with, such as economics (with various sub-fields) and marketing. I’m also going to start trying to brush up on a foreign language or two as well. It’s time to push myself to continue learning and progressing if I don’t want to be stuck in the same place for years. Learning is a life long process, I’m now just trying to un-stick myself from the stagnation that I’ve allowed myself to fall into lately.

No Comments careerjob searchingPersonal Developmentprofessional development

Update on different areas of personal & professional development

So I’ve been working through some of the little courses from the ultimate library for business and personal development bundle that I bought through e-courses4you. So far I’ve gone through their organizational skills, goal setting & getting things done, and the job search skills courses. Things that I’ve learned from these courses:

 

I’ve learned that I truly need to get better at organization—namely getting rid of a lot of stuff from my bedroom so it doesn’t look like a mini tornado has gone through. I’ve read enough over the past couple of months to know that clutter can also ramp up one’s anxiety issues (which I know for a fact I have several), and also can make it hard to get anything done when you’re trying to work in a room that is basically screaming at you to straighten things up.

I’d been doing good for awhile at trying to get things par down and making sure that boxes weren’t overrunning the room, but know there are the little things over running the room like clothes that aren’t put away, my crafts that are here and there, and my desk/dresser that looks like an F5 tornado touched down on it (remember my 101+ goal list??). I managed to straighten it up a while back, and actually kept it that way for a while, but now it looks like the F5 tornado came through—so I need to straighten it up again this week. Plus I just need to organize my clothes and figure out a better system for them than what I have. Also I need to just start cleaning…………..

I also have to figure out a schedule/planner that will actually work for me. I’ve tried the bullet (and normal) journal approach. But that only seems to work for things that I know I can get done, and truthfully aren’t very high on the priority/goal list of moving things forward. I’ve tried using google calendar—but that doesn’t seem to work, since I never know exactly what I’m going to be having to do during the day at work (it is hard to plan your day/week when you have no idea how your day is going to be going until about 9 or 9:30 that morning). I’m thinking potentially of just going back and writing things down in a notebook as a massively long to-do list that I can continuously check things off of during the week. Read More

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Focusing back on a new job search

The New Year has started with a new job—though the job may or may not be there for the next year (have to love budget cuts to higher education). So I’m back on task for trying to determine what it is exactly I want to do within science (or outside of science), since I really can’t see myself slaving away to try to land one of the coveted assistant professor positions and then work my way up the academic ladder.

So now there are some key questions that I need to ask myself as I continue on this journey of professional development and transitioning into a different job in industry.

One of the huge questions that I need to decided on the answer to is—do I stay within my comfort zone or do I start edging out of my comfort zone. Now everyone has numerous different comfort zones when it comes to work and personal life. The one I’m going to be contemplating here is my professional comfort zone of doing research.

Being a research scientist is something that I love. I’ve always considered the role of a research scientist as someone who is slowly trying to put together a massive jigsaw puzzle without a picture or knowing how many pieces you’re suppose to be working with.  There are others helping you put together that puzzle, and over time they leave to work on other puzzles, or you might even get bored with that particular puzzle and head off to help other people with their puzzles. You might learn new skills by moving from puzzle to puzzle (or you might not).

With the way funding is going these days, if I’m going to stick with research—it will be within an industry setting. I picture those puzzles are a little bit more defined by the project managers and senior scientists—so at least when you come in there should be the frame of the puzzle already put together.

Going outside of my comfort zone would open up a lot of different doors for me to peek through to see which one would be a good fit. I’ll be talking more about those positions in later posts. But for now the other positions I’m thinking of include health economist, technology assessment & alliance officer, technology transfer officer, epidemiologist, or possibly quantitative research analyst.

Another key question I will have to ask myself, is do I want a job that I know may require long evenings or the occasional weekend? I know that scientific research isn’t just a nine to five job Monday thru Friday. But at the same time, I do like knowing that I can go home at the same time everyday and not have to take work with me (for the most part).

I know that any of the positions may require evening and/or weekend work (and even possibly travel), but I want to make sure that the work is worth having to “give up” some of the valuable “personal/me time” that needs to be carved into our days.

Another question is where do I want to live? I know that going into industry will require moving again (there just aren’t that many biotech type jobs in Oklahoma that I’m interested in). So then it is a matter of trying to decide: Where on the East Coast (NYC, Boston, somewhere else), the upper Midwest (MN or WI), or maybe the Pacific Northwest?

I have one major requirement when it comes to moving to a new city—there needs to be a good (or should I say decent) public transportation system. The reason for this is that I don’t drive (anxiety issues with being behind the wheel), and will be needing to be close to a bus or subway stop for getting to both work and various stores.

Now before you say anything—this is how I survived in Boston for my first postdoc. I lived near one of the subway lines, which gave me access to pretty much the entire city and the surrounding suburbs. Yes it took longer to get to work with the way I went—but that gave me time to wake up in the mornings. Going home at night was a pain, especially if there were sporting events in the city—and weekends getting to and from work were even worse (but I tried to plan my weeks to where weekend work was minimally needed).

Once I figure out comfort zone or not, which geographical area (city), and then which company I want to work for—I’ll start the next fun step of tailoring my resume and cover letter to fit each job application.

No Comments careerjob searchingPersonal Development

Level 10 Life

As I look towards the New Year, I’ve realized that I need to quit being a passive actor in my own life and I need to start putting serious work and dedication to certain areas to be able to get to where I want to be. So I’m doing things a bit different—I’m doing both a 101+ Goals in 1001 Day Challenge, and looking at my life from a level 10 view. Level 10 Life is a method that is described in Hal Elrod’s book “The Miracle Morning”; after seeing what the Level 10 life chart looks like and trying it myself—I’ve ordered the book and it is on my to-be read pile for this year—so look for a book review coming later (yes, I’m doing things backwards—but hey I never liked marching to the same beat as others). Below are the “10” Levels of life that we usually are giving some part of our life to, and the ranking (1 to 10) is how satisfied I am with each level as the calendar switches from 2017 to 2018; why I feel that way; then hopefully ten goals for each level that I can work towards over the next say three to five years to get everything up to a 7-to-9 ranking.

Here is a picture of what my “Level 10 life” looks like right now.

My current Level 10 life

Some of these goals will be overlapping with my 101+ goals in 1,001-day challenge that I decided to start this year as well (see that post-101+goals). Note—not all sections have 10 goals yet (and one has more), mainly because I’m still trying to think of ideas/goals for each area.

 

Level: Family and Friends (5): This is the level that I have the most satisfaction with, though it is only at basically 50%. It helps that I do live with my parents currently and my younger brother lives with in the state. I try to keep in touch with friends through social media, and the occasional get together.

GOALS for Family and Friends:

  1. Touch base with people (email/facebook/ in person) more often
  2. Sending Channing an postcard/letter monthly (start a pen-pal system with niece)
  3. Try to have a monthly lunch meet up with friends
  4. Send out a yearly Christmas letter/card to update everyone on how I’m doing (start a new tradition)

Level: Personal Development (4): This is a pretty good ranking, considering I’ve really only started to spend the past couple of months working on any type of development (personal, spiritual, or professional).

GOALS for Personal Development:

Read all the personal development books that I’ve currently bought (or pre-ordered) on my Kindle (roughly 56)

  1. Read the few autobiographical/personal/professional development books that I’ve bought on my Kindle (Roughly 3)
  2. Brush up on at least one foreign language (Spanish & hopefully German)
  3. Start doing more cooking (learning/trying new recipes and cultures)
  4. Tackle my anxiety of driving (find a place for lessons that has done some work with people that have driving phobias/anxiety)
  5. Take at least one vacation trip solo a year (either to a new state/city or to a new country/city)
  6. Listen to at least one podcast a day
  7. Write in a journal daily (make a hybrid of bullet journal and a normal journal)
  8. Set goals monthly (review daily/weekly/monthly)
  9. Develop a time management schedule and stick with it (i.e. planning out the day)

Level: Spirituality (3.5): This isn’t that high, but then I’ve never really considered myself to be a spiritual person (I vary daily between being a pagan and an atheist depending on my mood).

GOALS for Spirituality:

  1. Read the different spirituality books that I’ve got on my Kindle (4 right now) and possibly buy a few more
  2. Try to keep up with doing my new and full moon rituals (wishes)
  3. Mediate at least five minutes a day
  4. Do yoga at least twice a week
  5. Set up an altar for meditation/spell casting

Level: Finances (4.5): This is almost to 50% mainly because I do have a decent size savings account at the current time, though the debt could be lower.

GOALS for Finances:

  1. Get credit card debt down to less than $400 a month re-occurring
  2. Put 8K into a short-term CD investment
  3. Get savings account up at least another 20K
  4. Get a side hustle(s) going that can bring in at least $500/month (cover the re-occurring credit card debt)
  5. Have a monthly budget set up and stick with it; Write down everything that I buy (charge) for two months to see where money is going (and cut back accordingly)

Level: Career (4.5): This is almost to 50% mainly because I’ve realized that I really don’t want to be a professor in academia. Now I just need to spend some time trying to determine exactly what it is that I want to do, and work my way towards that goal.

GOALS for Career:

  1. Read the books that I’ve bought on scientific writing and presenting (7)
  2. Finish the CSA transition plan (mainly trying to rewrite my story to be short and powerful).
  3. Finish the CSA and SMBA modules
  4. Determine the best non-academia position that I fit and meet my criteria of balancing work and life
  5. Start networking with my linkedin connections
  6. Determine the company(ies) that I would like to work for
  7. Start reaching out for informational interviews
  8. Start reaching out for recommendations/referrals on linkedin
  9. Apply for key positions within companies
  10. Land dream(ish) job and start working my way up the ladder to the point that I want to get to.
  11. Finish the other online course bundles that I’ve bought over the past several months (programming, project management, Six Sigma)

Level: Relationship/Social Life (0.5-1.0): This is the lowest ranking. Currently I’m not in any relationship, and until I have my life somewhat figured out (i.e. what my career choice/goal is; location for said career) I don’t feel comfortable getting into a relationship with someone, that could end up having to be long distance. Also right now I don’t feel comfortable trying to meet people in the same town that I basically grew up in (in other words I don’t feel like potentially dating someone I went to school with (either public or college).

GOALS for relationship/social life:

Try to get together with friends on the weekends (lunch, or walking around Boomer Lake)

And more to come as I can think of them………….. Read More

No Comments careerCraftsfitnessHealthjob searchingLevel 10 LifePersonal DevelopmentPhotography

Settling into the job

So I’m settling into my position as a senior research specialist in charge of DNA sequencing. Right now I’m just making sure that I have my feet under me, to where I can handle doing the sequencing on a day-to-day basis without too many mishaps (loose lid……), before trying to do anything more in terms of protocol modifications/development–that will probably be after the new year.

Right now I’d say my job is 80% technical (with 75% of that being pipetting for anywhere from thirty minutes to three plus hours, depending on the number of samples for the day; and the other 5% is taking care of the machine). Of the remaining 20%, I’d say 15% is dedicated to customer service (looking at the data before the customers get it, and letting them know what happened with their samples (which ones failed/which ones gave noisy reads/and which ones ran fine). The last 5% of my job is administrative paperwork (filling out log sheets, order forms, making copies, tabulating charges, and getting the paperwork to the finance guy in the department).

While it can be tedious and repetitive, it is also interesting because if something doesn’t work–you get to work with the lab to try to figure out what when wrong, and what a possible solution to the problem could be.

I’ve also decided that while I’ve applied for academic positions over the last few months (mainly to make the weekly quota of job applications for unemployment)–that isn’t where I really want to be anymore–I don’t want to be stuck teaching 12 credits a semester and trying to get a research program up and running at the same time. I’d rather find a good position within a company that does outreach (or maybe spearhead an outreach program for a company), then try to survive in the academic rat race.

I’m starting to listen to my gut and realize that it is okay to turn down a potential job offer if it doesn’t seem like it is going to be what I want out of life. A few years ago I may have wanted to have my own lab and do my own research–now I want to work for a company that is trying to do something good in the world (say try to find a treatment for cancer, or a neuro-degenerative disease), and still be able to have a life outside of a lab.

I want to be able to work on crafts, continue working on personal development, getting into shape, spending time with my pets, friends, and remember that there is more to life than the nine-to-five rat race (that is found no matter where you get a job).

No Comments careerScience