Category: job searching

Self reflection time: naming my “roadblocks”

As I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal development/reflections over the past few weeks—I’ve realized that when it comes to my two or three biggest obstacles in trying to transition from academia to industry, they all have one thing in common—they’re all mental and I need to do the following to get past them:

            Acknowledge that there are obstacle/blocks to getting to my goals.

            Devise a workable plan for dealing with said obstacles (without hopefully adding more anxiety or obstacles to the path)

            Work daily to make small strides towards getting to stated goals.

            But remember that the goals may be fluid and change as I move forward.

So what are these obstacles or blocks that I’ve recognized over the past few weeks?

The first one is actually the major one—movement paralysis. What I mean by this is that I’ve overthought things so much, that I’m basically afraid to move in any direction, due to the (almost totally irrational) fear that I’m going to be making another large mistake. This is actually a three part paralysis problem–as described below.

This is due in part to how my first post-doctoral position ended—not well. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have taken that position—I only learned a few new techniques, made quite a few new friends—but I didn’t end up having a very good working relationship with my mentor. When the position ended, I was financially in the hole and felt like I was pretty much emotionally in the hole as well (due mainly to stress).

I came back home to get my financial feet steady again, and to see if I could still find enjoyment in academic research. So—I do have my financial feet steady (for the most part), and while I do enjoy the freedom of academic research—I’m so far off the path from a faculty position, it isn’t funny. If I were to stay in academic research—it would have to be in a support position, and if I was paid a decent salary I’d almost consider staying in academia—but I know I won’t be, and therefore it’s time to move on.

Switching from academia to industry is going to be a complete culture shock, and I know this—also this is where the movement paralysis comes in—what direction do I want to go in?

            There is research at the bench, research away from the bench, marketing, sales, writing, data analysis, clinical, law, ethics, and everything in between. There is also the fact that companies want to hire people focused on a couple of things, and not jack-of-all-trades (and that is how I currently feel—like I’m more of a jack of all trades than a specialist).

So that is the first part of my movement paralysis—determining which direction(s) do I try to go in? Which then leads to the second part of my movement paralysis–what do I feel like “specializing” in, and what do I feel like being a “jack-of-all-trades” in?

I’ve always enjoyed learning new things, and at times I tend to get bored and let my mind wander if I have to do the same thing over and over again—though I have tried to get better at this with my most current position. I also know that there are probably quite a few techniques that I’m lacking knowledge on for certain positions. I know that I can pick up the techniques fairly quickly, so that isn’t the major problem (though it is tied with the second issue—which I’ll get to possibly in the next post)—but I’m worried that I’ll get bored with what I’m doing and that there may not be that much to learn with the position.

So this means that I need to look through my diverse scientific background, and list out basically everything I’ve done and decide which two or three things (or areas), are the ones that I’d be willing to spend forty to say sixty hours a week of my life working on for the next thirty to thirty-five years. I know that most of the areas have a numerous papers published monthly, and that it would take quite awhile to feel like I’m an “expert” in those areas—getting back into reading scientific papers is something else I know I need to work on (I lost the little bit of enjoyment I had for that during my postdoctoral years).

This then brings me to the third point of my “movement paralysis”—determining which companies to work for, and brings the triangle of my “movement paralysis” to a close. This point is tied in even more closely with the first point (which direction), than the second one is. There are numerous companies, of different sizes (small start-ups up to large multi-national companies), and they all have their own different culture, ideas, pursuits, and so forth.

So once I have an idea of the two or three directions I’m wanting to go in, then I will also start looking at the different companies that are in those areas and work from there. One way of pursuing this—figure out a way that the different directions could almost go together and therefore make it easy for determining which company (or companies) I want to work for and which biotech hubs I want to be working/living in as well.

So those are my three areas of “movement paralysis”:

            Determining which direction to go,

            Determining what to be an “expert” in and what to be a “jack-of-all-trades” in, and then finally,

            Determining which companies to start looking into, and what biotech hubs to also look into.

Now how am I going to address each area of “paralysis” and move forward?

In terms of which direction to go in—I have several different ideas, but the main “issue” would be trying to figure out how I could go from research at the bench to doing marketing research behind the scenes for example—I know it has been done, but my thought would be can it be done after being in industry (say a second job transition from the bench to behind the scenes).

I have a list of different basic job “titles” or areas that peaked my interest (though one of them is basically my “comfort zone”), and they are:

Other than the R&D Scientist/Manager–which still will have a learning curve mainly for techniques, the other positions are all outside my comfort zone for numerous reasons including:

Not being at the bench–with my current position I do miss being at the bench, but I can’t say for certain if I miss it because I love it, or if I miss it because it is where I’m most comfortable at.

Writing heavy positions. This isn’t to say that I don’t like writing–but grad school and my first (and to a smaller extent my second) post doctoral position dulled my enthusiasm for writing. This is something that I’m trying to get back–starting with writing in my journal, creative writing, and working my way up to summarizing journal articles (to then hopefully write a mini-review on a topic).

Number heavy positions. Dealing with numbers really isn’t the problem–I would just need to learn statistics, and then brush up on basically everything business related (finances and economics for example).

While I’m not looking at positions that are constantly on the road (as I know there are at least two to four different positions that travel at least four days a week), there are one or two that might have some travel time. Currently I want to limit the amount of travel, since when I do move–I’ll have my cat with me (and then I’m planning within six to nine months after settling of getting another kitten or puppy), and that means I don’t want to be paying a large amount of money every month for a pet sitter.

So as you can see—I have numerous directions I can chose from, I just need to decide which are the most interesting and which ones could possibly overlap and make it an easy transition into the second, or third industry positions (as now a days—people may or may not stick with the same company for more than say three to five years).

I almost consider all the positions (other than the R&D scientist/manager) to be some sort of data analyst position—which would be interesting in their own way—but I’m not sure if I want to be stuck at a desk all day or not (but this is something else entirely to deal with).  The R&D position would be staying somewhat within my comfort zone. I’m saying somewhat—because I know that there are technical skills that I’m lacking, but would be able to pick up fairly quickly on the job. The position is listed, because currently I do miss doing actual research at the bench—I’m just not sure if it is something that I want to continue doing for the next thirty or thirty-five years.

All of the positions have a learning curve—there are technical skills, coding, subjects (such as marketing, statistics, and economics for example), and possible foreign languages to learn (or brush up on).

So how can I go about paring down the list? Well, for that to happen I will also need to make headway with the other two points on the triangle (what do I want to be an “expert” in and where do I want to work/live (biotech hubs and the specific companies)—and then hopefully work on getting some informational interviews with people to hear first hand about these positions.

In addition I have listed in another journal things that I can start brushing up on (or learning) that would help with transitioning into the different positions, and may also help get me back into enjoying learning something new and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.

This is also going back to my issue with time management—I know that there is enough time in the day to brush up on one or two things, and that I can go between different things (say have a M/W/F schedule & then a T/Th schedule—just like college)—I just need to clean up a work space, install some time management apps—so I don’t spend all day going onto social media, and sit down and get stuff going.

That then brings me to the second area to figure out: my niche. So how do I decide on what to be an “expert” on and what to be a “jack-of-all-trades” on? If I had to pick a couple of skills/areas that I would enjoy doing frequently they would be the following:

I think that knowing how to do “old fashion” molecular cloning is important, only because I’m sure there will be a time when money runs out for a lab and they will still need that one last plasmid to get the grant—if someone knows how to do it the “old fashion” way—they can put in the grant application; if no one knows—the lab folds and closes. This is something that one might not have to do much of in the industry setting (as time is money, and companies may rather just pay another company some money to make the plasmid for them), but I do feel like it is something that any molecular biologist should at least know the theory behind (and if possible, have tried their hands at it).

            If nothing else, I think this would be a good subject to design an entire series of blog posts around, and maybe even a small online course.

The recombinant protein expression and purification fits in with that aspect—because you have to put your gene/protein of interest into a plasmid to be able to study it. Proteins and small molecules are what makes the cell run—knowing how to study them, how to target them (in cases of cancer and other diseases) for treatment is something that I think I’d enjoy doing. There are also numerous technical skills that I would hopefully be able to pick up as well doing this; though with this area—there are so many different proteins, that again this would be an duel edge sword—being an “expert” in one or two, and then a “jack-of-all-trades” in a couple of other types of proteins.

Cell biology fits in with both the above two topics and the last one (small RNA biology) because you have to understand how the cell operates to be able to understand how to start to manipulate it. This is a subject that I would need to brush up on, as I only took one or two classes in college, and while my dissertation topic touched on it a little—it only touched on a very small aspect of it (post-transcriptional modifications).

Small RNA biology is an area that can span different industrial sectors such as biomedical, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural. This is also a growing field, with more being discovered about these small molecules that play a large role in the cell. Having done small RNA biology with both plants and animals, I can go either direction, biomedical/pharmaceutical or agricultural, and probably be happy doing the research at the bench.

So these four areas can probably be condensed down into two areas: molecular biology and cell biology that I feel like I could be an “expert” and a “jack-of-all-trades” in at the same time (as both areas encompass numerous different subfields). The other two areas that I would feel more comfortable having a “jack-of-all-trades” or “minor” expertise in would be biochemistry and chemistry. As I’m typing this, I’m finding it funny that I’m willing to consider myself an “expert” in molecular biology, and an “jack-of-all-trades” or “minor” expert in biochemistry (since both my undergraduate and graduate degrees were in biochemistry and molecular biology)—it has only taken me about nine years to figure out which subfield I’m more comfortable with compared to the other.

So, while I’ve chosen the areas (and to some extent the subfields)—I’m still going to need to spend time reading papers, and giving myself a refresher in certain subjects (namely chemistry, a little biochemistry (all those pathways), and a little cell biology). I need to design a tracking system, or something that will make it interesting and fun so that I don’t lose interest after a week or so—plus I will design a schedule to where I focus on only say two “subjects” on any particular day (pretend I’m back in college).

So I have some idea of the direction(s) I’m probably willing to take; ideas of what I wouldn’t mind becoming an “expert” versus an “jack-of-all-trades” in—which then leads to the third point—where do I want to relocate to, and then which companies within that region am I going to look into further. This is actually a two-part problem: location to live and company to work for. I’ve realized that I’m going to be going about this issue in a different manner than most people: I’m going to first focus on narrowing down the biotech hubs that I’m willing to relocate to, and then focus on narrowing down the companies within the biotech hubs that I want to work for.

So when it comes to choosing a biotech hub, I already have several different criteria that will have to be met:

            The cost of living has to be reasonable. I know that moving to a larger city, rent is going to be relatively high, but I don’t want to be paying an outrageous amount of money for a small studio or one bedroom apartment.

            There has to be a decent public transportation system in the city. This is currently an absolute must have, as I don’t drive (and until I work thorough my anxiety issues associated with it—I won’t be driving). So that is one thing the city has to have—public transportation. I don’t mind riding buses, trains, or both to get to work—you do what you have to do, with what you have.

            There has to be things to do within the city (both free and hopefully also fairly inexpensive). With a transition into industry, this will hopefully mean that I won’t have to be working on weekends (though the occasional one is perfectly fine), and I can spend the time exploring my new city and the surround areas. That also means that there should be ways of getting around the outlying areas as well (for example—Boston serves as a hub and you can take a bus almost anywhere within a four hour drive).

            Finally, there needs to be a decent number of companies within the area. I realize that I may not spend the rest of my career working for the company that I start with—but if I’m going to be changing companies (for whatever reason, say five to ten years after starting with company one) I don’t want to be moving cross-country, or even between states (if I can avoid it). The move to and from Boston for my first postdoctoral position soured me on long distance moving (moves are expensive, and time consuming [packing, arranging movers, finding an apartment/condo/house, setting up utilities, getting your stuff delivered, and then unpacking], and as far as I’m concerned—an all around headache).

            When it comes to trying to pick the companies, this will be in part dependent on which direction I chose to go in, what I’ve “branded” myself an “expert” in, and of course the city. I know that companies all have their own culture, values, and visions—so the best way of narrowing down the companies will be to setup informational interviews. These will start first online (or over the phone), and then when I have an solid idea of the place(s)—hopefully in person informational interviews, when I take some networking trips in the spring.

So there it is—my “movement paralysis” layout, and each little circle opened up to reveal another “knot” that needs to be worked out in order to move forward. I’m going to be doing this a little slower than others might—but by doing it slow, I can hopefully avoid falling into any major panic attacks or introducing a new “movement paralysis” stop.

First things to do: clean up my room and design a work area at home (probably not my desk—which is also currently serving as my dresser), install some time management apps on the computer (to keep me from surfing social media sites during the day—especially once I’m on my reboot break), and design a schedule for the “class” work I need to start working on. In addition, I’ll be working a little on it during the week at work (when I have a little down time in between other things), such as reading business/tech pages to start brushing up on the business side of science.

No Comments professional developmentReflectionstransition plan

July’s second new moon: goals for the Leo New Moon

So the moon is making its transition into Leo (either today or tomorrow depending on where you live). The transition today will make it the second new moon in July (and a super black moon at that). This also means that the month is over, and there are only five months left in the year. I’m getting better at not asking where the time is going, and I’m trying to get better at time management.

So what are some of things that one can do during the Leo New Moon?

            Show off—celebrate life.

            Flirt.

            Be creative.

            Love thyself—self-love, work on confidence, and leadership skills.

            Spoil thyself.

These are all good for being within the Leo constellation, but one should also look to see what house/zone the moon & Leo are progressing through as well. For me, that means that Leo is going through my 10th house, or my career zone. This is about my career & reputation (professional brand).

So what are some of the things that one can do during this time in regards to the career zone?

            Speak to your boss about how you’re doing.

            Help a colleague out of a rut.

            Check that you’ve not become status mad.

            Start a new business as close to the new moon as you can.

            Apply for new jobs with confidence.

            When you’ve earned it, take the credit.

            Plot your next best career move.

I finding it reassuring that the career zone and new moon are falling within this period again this year. It seems like the universe is nudging me to leave my current position—when I need something ordered for my job, the item is on backorder for months (and now there are two items). Last year, it was a computer issue—this year it is a technical issue. I am currently plotting my next move—it’s going to be a reboot break/pause. This way I can figure out what the hell I want to do with the second half of my life (as I’m looking at entering the last year of my thirties pretty soon).

So looking at these two lists, my goals for the Leo New Moon will include the following:

  1. Continue planning/outlining my reboot break/pause time.
  2. In part with #1—plan at least one trip (either total mental break or a combination mental break/networking/job searching).
  3. Work on creating more content for the blog and getting back into creative writing.
  4. Continuing with the photography challenge
  5. Work on my daily meditation practice (try to get back to meditating 5-10 minutes a night).

As always my current motto is: Progress over perfection. Right now slow is the pace I need to be going, as I try to focus on both my health and moving my career forward.

No Comments job searchingLifestyle ChallengesNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional development

Check-in on 101 goals

So we’re officially a little over halfway through 2019, which means that there are 815 days left in this challenge (as today is July 5th 2019). So I decided that I should probably do a check-in on the goals and see where I’m at with them. Updates are in bold.

The dates for my 101 goal challenges are:

So my original start and finish dates were:

Start Date: January 1 2018

Finish Date: September 28 2020

My new start and finish dates:

Start Date: January 1, 2019

Finish Date: September 28, 2021

Here are my 101 goals for the next 1001 days (random and non-grouped):

  1. Transition into a biotech or biopharma company as a research scientist
  2. Become fluent in Spanish
  3. Become fluent in German
  4. Learn to program (R and maybe python)
  5. Visit at least three new countries (0/3)
  6. Finish the various other e-course bundles that I bought (list out later)
  7. Move to a new(ish) city for #1
  8. Make it through at least 250 days of beachbody workouts (share on twitter?) (0/250) *Luckily it doesn’t have to be consecutive days (though I would like that)—I haven’t done a Beachbody workout in awhile (I also can’t remember how many I’d done before I hit my slump).
  9. Paint & frame at least one original painting (0/1)
  10. Finish the Dream Job Hack program
  11. Finish the Youtube for bosses course
  12. Finish the Youtube course creation for bosses course
  13. Launch a youtube channel
  14. Launch a online course
  15. Get blog traffic to 500+ views/day
  16. Publish 5-10 scientific blog posts (0/10)
  17. Practice more photography (1-2 posts a week) I’ve managed to stick with the photography challenge so far, so at least on the blog there have been new pictures post on a semi-constant basis (at least for the past three-four months).
  18. Get instagram followers to 800+
  19. Showcase crafts on blog (afghans, artwork, jewelry)
  20. Learn to make my own jewelry
  21. Re-pierce my ears
  22. Finish at least 200 personal/professional development books (and post reviews) (35/200) *So out of the 274 books I have on my book reading list for both personal and professional development (and this number is growing)—I’ve read 20 in 2018, and 15 so far in 2019—that means I only have another 238 books to read to finish the list (and that is only if I don’t add anymore books to the list).
  23. Interact more on Linkedin (actually network with connections) (at least 4 a week) (0/140)
  24. Reach at least 14,014,000 steps (0/14,014,000); though if I add in the steps from 2018—this could actually be closer to 20,000,000 steps (goal—19,124,000 by Sept 28 2021 (as of yesterday (07/04/19) 8,047,645/19,124,000).
  25. Visit at least one new national (or state) park (0/1)
  26. Visit at least one new national (or state) monument (0/1)
  27. 5 pushups on toes (0/5)
  28. 10 pushups on toes (0/10)
  29. Fly/land at least 3 new airports
  30. Visit one new city & state (US) (0/1; 0/1)
  31. Go to one or more scientific conferences (0/1)
  32. Go to a blogging conference (0/1)
  33. See the Northern Lights
  34. Present at a scientific conference (0/1)
  35. Post free monthly challenges in facebook groups
  36. Write (or start) a book
  37. Complete a 365 day photography challenge (137/365) I started the challenge a little late this year, or more accurately it took me awhile to build momentum to continue posting a daily picture.
  38. Learn to cross-stitch
  39. Reach 400+ followers on pintrest
  40. Reach 1000+ followers on twitter
  41. Publish at least two blog series (0/2)
  42. Mediate at least 5 minutes a day  (0/1001) This one has been an off and on success—there have been at least one or two weeks when I didn’t feel like meditating nightly, and therefore I didn’t—but I’m slowly getting back into the routine.
  43. No extra snacks at work (i.e. no hitting the coffee shop for cookies in the morning) This one is a work in progress, there are some days when I’m really good at not getting extra snacks at work, and there are other days when I cave and get chocolate.
  44. Declutter the movies in the house
  45. Create an editorial calendar for blog (0/33) Well I’m slowly starting to try creating editorial calendars, but have only been really good at posting certain topics (new/full moon goals & updates, monthly updates & photography challenge). This is something I still need to work on.
  46. Credit card debt down to less than $500 a month (and getting paid off monthly in full) This is almost happening—I do have my debt at a level that I can pay off monthly, though some bills get a little higher than planned.
  47. Monthly budget (plus list of monthly recurring charges on credit cards) (0/33) I’ve been doing this, though not listing the recurring charges on my credit cards.
  48. Learn to give mani/pedi and give myself one a month (0/33) This one is off the list—because I have yet to do it, and while I might in the future I don’t see me doing it quite yet.
  49. Get a new sewing machine and make a new quilt for bed. This one is on hold until I move and then I’ll be buying a new sewing machine.
  50. Make my new moon & full moon goals (0/66) I’ve been keeping up with this one. Though I may not hit all the goals for both the new moon & the full moon—I’m at least putting my intentions out there for the universe to hear.
  51. Buy a new couch and chair for my living room. This one and #s 52-54 are dependent on success with #1 & #7
  52. Buy a new dresser for my bedroom
  53. Buy a new mattress & box-spring for my bed
  54. Buy a new TV & stand for living room
  55. Reorganize my storage unit
  56. Buy fabric & foam and make new cushions for rocking chair
  57. Create a posting schedule (editorial calendar) for facebook pages (0/66) I’m behind on this.
  58. Generate at least three months of memes for facebook pages (0/3)
  59. Create posting schedule (editorial calendar) for instagram (0/33) Behind on this.
  60. Learn to use photoshop for memes & posts
  61. Make a 30-day Zumba schedule & stick with it (0/30) Haven’t done this yet.
  62. Visit one or more new zoos (0/1)
  63. Visit one or more new aquariums (0/1)
  64. Make a top 10 favorite author list (for different genera; romance, fantasy/sci-fi, mystery/thriller, non-fiction) for blog
  65. Write and share at least two posts on linkedin every two months (0/32) Behind on this as well.
  66. Ask for endorsements from 6 well known connections on linkedin (0/6) Behind on this well.
  67. Endorse 3 to 5 people on linkedin every four months (0/40) Behind on this.
  68. Renew professional memberships (0/6) Need to do this soon.
  69. Get into the “best shape” of my life. This is one of the things I’m going to try to focus on more, and maybe should be moved higher in the list.
  70. Finish reading books on scientific writing (review and post) (0/7)
  71. Take a multivitamin & supplements daily (0/1001). There have been several days (going on to a week) that I’ve missed taking my multivitamin & supplements.
  72. Design a logo for my blog/website
  73. Finish 3 hidden object games without using hints, or the strategy guide
  74. Go to a author-reader conference and meet authors
  75. Write in journal daily (0/1001). There have been several weeks that I didn’t do this (mainly due to my current mood—even though I know when I’m feeling down or in a funk that is actually a good time to journal).
  76. Complete my book of Sudoku puzzles (minus the ones crossed out)
  77. Drink 70 oz of water a day (0/1001). There have been quite a few days when this hasn’t happened.
  78. Color in two coloring books (0/2) (pictures on blog/instagram)
  79. Knit another afghan (diamond pattern) This has been started, and hopefully will be finished this coming winter.
  80. Watch all the episodes of Hawaii 5-0
  81. Go to at least 2 professional networking events (0/2)
  82. Update Linkedin profile (0/2)
  83. Watch all the episodes of Grimm
  84. Design a science based board game
  85. Hold a two minute plank (on forearms)
  86. Hold a 90 second plank (full)
  87. Go at least one weekend a month without social media (0/33) This hasn’t happened yet, though with the way the world is going I might start doing it.
  88. Create (and update) a vision board. I’ve created and updated a digital vision board, and will probably try to update it at least every two to three months.
  89. Create my own altar (wiccan/pagan)
  90. Learn basic sign language
  91. Create job searching/networking editorial calendar (0/12)
  92. Get an additional external hard drive to back up the laptop & external DVD drive for installing printer program on laptop
  93. Create my own coffee table photography book
  94. Touch base with friends that I haven’t talked to lately
  95. Savings up another 20K (0/20K)
  96. Get at least three plants and keep them alive (0/3)
  97. Stretch daily (0/1001)
  98. Watch all the episodes of The Librarians
  99. Watch all the episodes of Once Upon A Time
  100. Get Fit with Jessi to 1000+ likes
  101. Get BecomingJessi to 1000+ likes

I’ve only removed one goal from the list—giving myself a mani/pedi monthly. I’ve never been the type to fuss with their nails (though I know with job searching, I do need to start taking better care of my nails, and this does include painting them every so often). I’ve realized that I have fallen behind on some of the daily goals (taking my multivitamins, drinking a certain amount of water a day, and writing in my journal every day)—but at least I do start back up, even if it tampers off, and then starts again.

I also know that there are goals that I haven’t started on, and others that require another goal to be accomplished before they are looked at. I know where I need to try to focus for the next few months (personal care—mental and physical health, and slowly figuring out my career objectives), and once these are on track, I think the others will follow suit.

No Comments 101 GoalsBooksCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthjob searchingLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentspiritualitytravel

Update on the April Full Moon Goals

So the moon is going to be entering it’s latest full moon stage tomorrow, and actually should be within the Scorpio constellation. I will admit that this year has totally confused me on which constellation the moon is in and when, since there have been a couple of times that it seems to have transitioned quickly back into the same constellation it was in the previous month. So it looks like I’m going to have another chance on working on my goals for a Scorpio full moon, as that is the constellation that it will be going through tomorrow. That means that it’s time to look back on the first round of Scorpio goals and see how I did with each one.

So goals for this full moon period are going to include:

            Getting my fitness and nutrition back on track.

            Working on my transition plan.

            Practicing gratitude/happiness/keeping a positive outlook daily.

So how did I do with each one?

            In terms of fitness and nutrition—this didn’t really happen, though I am trying not to buy as many sweets on campus. Now that our wifi/internet is hopefully back to it’s normal speed and not disappearing at the drop of a dime I will hopefully try to get back into doing a workout daily.

                        I’ve realized that at times I get bored with the workout because I’ve done it before and then I lose interest in the entire program. I’m thinking that I’m going to have to push myself to get through a program and try to lift a little heavier each week (if possible) in certain exercises and see if that can help propel me through various programs.

                        In terms of nutrition, I need to figure out a better way of dealing with stress and irritation—currently it’s going to buy some type of sweet/candy that I know I don’t need but I usually eat it anyway (or I save it for the weekend at home). If I can avoid getting the sweets (and the extra coffee) in the morning/during the day—besides losing some weight I will also be saving some money.

            In terms of working on my transition plan, so far the only book that I’ve finished reading so far has been: “Reboot your life: energize your career and life by taking a break” by Catherine Allen, Nancy Bearg, Rita Foley, and Jaye Smith. This book has shown me that its fine wanting to take a break from things, and that it’s even expected that people do that (I had no idea that companies like Google and Genetech actually support employees doing this).

                        So this is something that I’m seriously thinking of doing. I know that I have enough money saved (one nice thing about my current living arrangements), and that this is the perfect time for me to do so. Therefore sometime by the end of the year I’m going to embark on my own “reboot break”.

                        I’ve also joined another subgroup within a professional group I’m in—this one focusing on different aspects of scientific writing (but focused on non-academia areas). There are two other books that I’m currently reading (and hopefully will be finishing within the next full moon), and they are: “The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life” by Margaret Loensteine and “Next Gen PhD” by Melanie Sinche.

Listening to a teambeachbody podcast this week (and currently I forget which April one it was), but one thing that stuck with me was—working the personal development that I need to be working on for myself and not what others think (or I think I should do to be like others). Listening to some of the podcasts have been reminding me that I really haven’t been working on me for me; and that is another reason why I’m leaning towards doing a “reboot break”.

Finally in terms of trying to practice happiness/gratitude daily—this is a hit and miss. I realize that the part of my day that I’m currently at times the unhappiest is when I’m at work. One reason is that we’re getting into the nicer weather and I don’t like being stuck indoors all day. I think that I’d almost prefer a job that had flexible hours/schedule to where I could work from both an office and then from home (or a park or somewhere I could take a break and get outdoors). I’m trying to find things to be happy/grateful for daily, and it boosts my mood for a while—but if others are in a bad mood that seems to spread around everyone and it’s hard to stay upbeat. So that is yet another nudge I need for taking a “reboot break” so that I can figure out what the next stage of my career is going to be.

Things were hit and miss this last month, and I’m not sure if it was just because the semester was winding down or if I was going through another small bout of depression (or both). Since we’re going to be cycling back through Scorpio, I will have the chance to modify the goals and figure out the best plan for moving forward again—since the moon in Scorpio will also mark the start of the full moon going through all my houses (from the first).

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A Review: Libra Full Moon Goals

So the next full moon happened yesterday (April 19), and technically is the second Libra Full moon, transitioning quickly into Scorpio. So both my review and my new full moon goals are going to be a couple of days late in posting. In terms of the next full moon goal post—I’m probably going to go with Scorpio goals, as the moon will have transitioned into the Scorpio constellation by the time I get to posting that entry. But for now lets look back at the goals I’d set for the Libra Full moon and see how I did with each one of them.

The goals for the Libra Full Moon included:

            Rereading and modifying my transition plan as needed.

            Continue making the lists/goals for the set of job titles that I’ve initially chosen so that I can narrow it down to say three to four (out of the seven).

            Rework my fitness/nutrition plan/goals and make another long-term list (including rewards for hitting certain benchmarks).

So how did I do with each one?

I’m still going through and modifying my transition plan—I’ve realized that one area that I haven’t been clear on is the exact type of position (or companies) I want and that I’d want to work for. It’s difficult to move forward in the transition if I’m not sure where I want to end up. So I’m also reading some other books to help in the self-assessment and self-reflection to help narrow down some ideas of what I would like to do.

I am making lists and goals of what I should be doing (and trying to make a weekly post on how I’ve done with everything that I said I wanted to get accomplished that week). I am probably going to be reworking the lists and goals as I work through other questionnaires and really try to get a good idea of what I want to be doing with my life.

In terms of the nutrition/fitness goals—I’ve reworked this as well, and I am going to be trying to make a weekly (or biweekly) update on the blog on how I’ve done the previous week in terms of the mini goals that I’ve set.

So far in terms of the last two goals—I only managed to do one update last week for the fitness/nutrition and then my finance goals. I will probably try to do what is turning out to be a biweekly update on the job transition/career goals and then my other personal development goals. There won’t be an update this week for the fitness goals as all I managed to get done is really walking this week (though I have managed to surpass my step goal for the week).

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Transition Plan Update III: Determining the professional lifestyle and job titles…..

So I am still working my way through various transition plans trying to forge the correct mix of all for myself. I’ve managed to figure out quite a bit over the past ten weeks, and while some of the answers are still slightly broad (since I haven’t quite fine tuned the positions and/or companies), I have a better idea of what I should be working towards.

I’ve managed to answer one of my “why” questions—why am I still in science, and why do I want to potentially stay in research. I’ve also managed to use it to help me figure out that if I stay in biomedical—that is where I may switch to data analysis (or maybe go in the direction of scientific/medical writing), but at the same time I could switch to the agricultural industry or cosmetic research sector & stay within research by helping to improve crop production (or maybe even biofuel production), or cosmetic products. I also need to remember how my Clifton Strength Assessment went and that I’m more of an inward working person (thinking & executing) than people facing person; out of my top fifteen traits only three are in the relating clade. My top five traits are: learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative. These are also things that I need to take into account when choosing what type of professional lifestyle I want to live.

Then when I turn to thinking about the professional lifestyle that I would prefer to have, it includes some time in the lab doing research. I realize that going into industry will actually decrease the amount of time in the lab (based on a forty hour week), as there will be meetings that will have to be attended as well. I also know that at times science isn’t a nine to five job (experiments can run late, especially if they follow a meeting that might have started a little late), so I know that hours might have to be flexible. I’m fine with that, because I know that I should be getting paid well enough to compensate for the extra hours (and maybe an occasional weekend). In terms of traveling, I’d prefer to only have to do it less than say ten percent of the time (so mainly going to conferences and local symposiums). While I want to travel—I want to travel for enjoyment and not the job (or at least not one where I’d be in potential meetings all day). I can probably do data analysis, though sitting in front of a computer for eight hours doesn’t sound like a lot of fun—I know that there would probably be meetings throughout the week to break up the monotony of staring at a computer screen. I also know that I need to try to start reading more articles (and I think I might have to schedule it into my day in order to make sure that I actually do it).

So with these thoughts in mind, I’ve decided on the following prospective positions (though the list will probably change as I start to go more in-depth research on each one and the companies within different industry sectors):

(1) R&D scientist

(2) Health Economist and Outcome Research

(3) Market Research Analyst

(4) Marking Communications Specialist

(5) Clinical Data Manager

(6) Scientific/Medical Writing

(7) Quantitative Analyst

So other than #1 (and that depends on the industry sector I go into), the others are all slightly outside my comfort zone. They are all interesting to me (though two of the bottom [5 &6] could have a little more travel than I’d want—but that could be something that can be worked with).

If I go a little slow (mainly to keep the anxiety in check), I will probably get quite a few lists made of things to work on for each position (including ideas for better networking on linkedin). I’ve realized over the past two weeks, that I have been letting my anxiety and stress hold me back this month in terms of trying to really move forward on the transition plan. Now that I have ideas of the types of positions, I need to look into different large cities (or biotech hubs) and see what companies are in those locations. While I am willing to relocate outside of Oklahoma—I do have a certain criteria that I’m going to be looking for in terms of places I’m willing to move. Once I know that a city has a large enough variation in companies—then I will start really researching the companies.

So I have made some strides in what I’m wanting to do—the list hasn’t changed that much since I first made it back in September—I’ve figure most of them (other than R&D scientist) can be considered a data analyst position of some type.

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Working on the transition plan: determining and focusing in on a small set of values.

There are different definitions of the word value, depending on whether or not the word is being used as a noun or as a verb. When used as a noun (especially in terms of job searching, professional, and personal development) the definition of value then can be considered: “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment on what is important in life”.

Everyone can share certain values and then also have completely different values as well. This is one important aspect of both personal and professional development that one has to think on throughout their lives and careers. Truthfully, this is one area that I’ve always been weak on (namely because I’ve always had a hard time trying to figure out what I want to do with my degree and what direction my career should go).

So over the past year and half, I’ve read several different personal/professional development books and worked through some e-courses, and they all had one exercise in common: picking out words from a list that resonated with you in terms of both your personal life and your professional life. Some told you to pick words that resonated with both (or to have a short list that encompassed both aspects), others had you do the activity twice: once for personal and then again for professional.

So while I’m including three of my value lists (one done from a book, one from an e-course, and the other from another program). They are in picture format (love using word cloud to make pictures out of words). There are words that show up multiple times, and now it is time for me to merge these lists into one list, and hopefully then get a “core list” and an “additional” value list made from these three.

So the first list of value words came from an exercise from the book: “Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking” by SJ Scott and Barrie Davenport. This was one of the first personal development books that I read last year after being laid off. It has wonderful insights and exercises for one to do, and I’m slowly starting to stop worrying about things that I can’t control and learning how to re-frame my negative thoughts into more positive ones.

This exercise had you make a list of values for both your personal and professional lifestyles (going with first your personal and then your professional). I will admit that the list for professional was shorter than the list for personal (but this is again due to me still trying to figure out the type of professional lifestyle that I would like to have).

Word cloud of my personal and professional values from the book

My second list of core values come from my transition plan that I’ve been developing and modifying via of my enrollment and involvement in the Cheeky Scientist Association (which is an company/association that helps people with PhDs (and Masters) degrees transition into industry positions). This list is smaller than the other two, because I was trying to limit the list to no more than ten or twelve values (and one way I did this was by finding values that also could be considered combinations of other values together). This shorter list of values include:

Vitality (combination of health & fitness),

Synergy (combination of teamwork & collaboration),

Flexibility,

Dignity,

Openness,

Creativity,

Curiosity,

Evolution,

Relationship,

Intuition, and finally

Empathy.

The final list comes from an e-course that I took on the topic of career development/searching for the right job. The actual title of the course is: Deciding your career path—even if you have no idea how! on udemy.com. I found this to be a little bit of a refresher course, though it did offer one new trick on trying to match your skills with the skills that the job posting has listed (but that is a topic for another post). This short refresher (at least for me) asked that you make a list of the values that resonated with you, and then rank them to find your top five to seven. Below is my unranked list of values that I listed (and I have them covering again both personal and professional):

So as you can see—I have basically one very large list of values (both personal and professional), now I have to either rank them or choose the ones that resonate the most with me to focus on during this current career transition.

When you use a program that groups or changes the size of the word depending on the number of times you have it listed, you can get a cool picture.

I’ve also realized that there are several values added to the image that aren’t found on the list (or I’ve added in the word again); but that I also left off hard work from my value list. This isn’t to say that I don’t value

One thing I thought of doing was grouping some together under an overarching theme, and I think that the current theme could be continuous improvement (which can mean numerous things in terms of both personal and professional development). So while I’m sure that I could continue to add to the above lists in terms of things that resonate with me, the ones that I’m going to focus on for the next few years include:

            Learning, Creativity, Variety, Vitality, Synergy, Honesty, happiness, adventure, and economic security

            Learning can encompass knowledge and education

            Vitality can encompass fitness, health, and nutrition

            Synergy can encompass collaboration and teamwork

So I think that I need to be looking for companies that have a sense of community, and also programs to help employees grow as professionals. In addition if I stick with research, going a different direction from what I’ve been doing will be another way to ensure that I’m continuing to learn and gain knowledge.

So to summarize, I’m going to be focusing on aspects/values that will allow me to continue to grow and learn (something that I pushed aside for awhile after finishing graduate school), and become a better me. Those values again are:

Now to start looking for companies that will allow me to focus on both these values and also have the type of professional lifestyle that I probably would enjoy. That lifestyle I think is a mixture of both lab work and data analysis (I don’t think I really want to be sitting behind a desk all the time; and I do miss being at the bench and actually working on “my” research). In addition, while there may be some long days (and/or weekends) of work, I am duly compensated for that time. There is also an company culture that emphasizes the balance of both work and having a life away from the business (i.e. you don’t have to worry about checking emails after hours, on the weekends, or on holidays). So I am slowly starting make the progress needed for my transition from academia to industry.

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Two whys and a where question everyone job searching needs to contemplate

So I’ve realized that in any career change, there are three questions that one needs to have the answers to as they move along in their transition. The first question refers to your area of work—why are you in the current field. The second question will be why this company/sector, and then the final question would be where do you see yourself in five (or ten) years (which isn’t necessarily a “why” question—but is related to the “why this company” question—most companies want to know that you are going to stick around for a good amount of time).

So I’ve been able to make a few baby steps forward in my job transition—namely slowly starting to define my “why” of being in science (or more specifically scientific research). I won’t even get into the reasons of just being around scientific research my whole life and just “falling” into it. This past week or so, I’ve been asking myself this question of “why am I in science (specifically in scientific research)” as I had been going on about my day. The answer I kept coming back to was some form of the following: I want to help figure out a cure/treatment for cancer and/or help improve the food production/distribution for the world—in other words I’m in research because I feel a need to help better society by helping to find solutions to pressing issues through the use of scientific research.

This is still a very broad “why” as I haven’t narrowed down the industry sectors or companies that I would potentially like to work for. I just realize that I want to be part of a team that helps answer a pressing question or concern using science. To help narrow down the industry sector and companies that I would potentially like to go work for, I will need to try to answer another “why” or “how”: what do I want to learn in the new position? Not to say that I’d apply for a position that I’m unqualified for—but a position that would allow me to grow within the company. As a “learner” I need to figure out the type of positions that will allow me to continue to learn and grow both as a scientist and as a business professional. This has been one issue with some of my past positions—once it became more routine repetition, I lost some interest in the position (I continued to do my job, but it became more automatic and I counted down to the weekends).

Though if I look at my why of being in science in a more broad view—I also want to help educate and train the next generation of scientists. Currently I think the best way to help do this is through online mentoring (as I’m not sure how many companies offer summer internships for undergraduates or high school students), writing blog posts/articles, and creating online e-courses in different subject areas. Once I’m in an established position I will try to work with the company in terms of trying do community outreach to help bring a better understanding of complex science issues to the general public.

The writing of blog posts/articles can also address the issue of community outreach, where certain topics are addressed in basic, common language where there is a limit on the amount of scientific jargon used (which is one problem scientists have when trying to communicate their work—they forget at times not everyone is a specialist in a certain niche). Topics that I could see me trying to write over include: GMOs (and why they won’t kill you), why organic isn’t necessarily better for you, why vaccines are good, and those are just topics that are current in the media (both mainstream and social). This particular method has been slow going, only because I’ve been trying to do all the graphics by hand (or PowerPoint) and that is slow going (only because of my limited artistic abilities—though I am trying to improve those this year).

So I can say that I would like to potentially stay within research, or a position that touches on it somehow (such as potentially doing market research analysis—still research, just on the business side), and at the same time try to figure out how to deal with the idea that at some point I could possibly have an entire “desk” job—I’ve realized that I get antsy during the week if I’m sitting still too long (don’t seem to have a problem on the weekend—probably because I’m trying to figure out and plan for the coming week).

As to the second question—why this company? I won’t be able to have a good idea on that until I really narrow down my previous why statement for being in research. I will have to make a decision on whether to go with small to mid size companies (ones that grow mainly to be bought by larger companies) or larger companies, where there could possibly be more job security but less learning other areas of business. Which then will bring me to the final question of where would I see myself in five or ten years?

This five (or ten) year question is one that everyone suggests you think on and have an answer to both in terms of job searching and then for job interviews (companies want to know that you’ve done research and have figure out how you would be able to fit in and progress and where you’d be within a time frame).

Currently I’d say that in five years I see myself working as either a senior research scientist (some amount of management, but with the hopeful potential of still being in the lab for at least one day a week), high ranked data analyst, or potentially a senior scientific (or medical) writer. I do see myself working my way up the business ladder, but at the same time not working too far up—as that isn’t my personality. This answer still needs fine-tuning (mainly in determining how to break it into numerous statements and part of an elevator pitch). The above answer is also broad—but since I haven’t really narrowed down my original why, and haven’t started really looking at different companies I think it’s a good start on the “where do you see yourself in “x” years” question.

So I think that I’ve managed to make a few strides in the right direction. I’m going to also try engaging more on various platforms (such as linkedin) and start trying to network enough that I can possibly start asking people for informational interviews within a few months to also start helping to narrow down the “why” of my career choice, but also start working on narrowing down some of the companies as well. Not bad for it only being January–I’m further long in a few short weeks than I was all of last year.

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Job Transition plan–part 1a: looking at different assessment tools.

One of the things that I obviously needed reminding of doing is going back over my Clifton Strength Assessment scores. Last fall (after basically being laid off due to budget cuts) I was in a personal/professional development/assessment kick and took the Clifton Strength Assessment quiz to try to figure out what some of my strengths and weaknesses were. After taking the quiz and looking at the results—I basically filed it all under “okay, done, check, and move on”. I’d basically forgotten about these results until I started to read the book “YouMap: Find Yourself, Blaze Your Path, Show the World!” by Kristin Sherry.

One of the things that she suggested in the book was either taking the Clifton Strength Assessment quiz, or reading through the thirty-four different strengths and trying to see which ones would be in our top five. I’d thought that I’d taken the quiz, searched my laptop and wouldn’t you know it—I saved the results. I had both the top five strengths, and the full assessment as well.

This quiz/assessment ranks you on thirty-four different traits—and as the author states even if something isn’t in your top area, doesn’t mean you incapable of that over-arching theme. This assessment is just one of the many windows we can look through in trying to determine what our strengths and weaknesses are—it will also can give us a clue on things we might want to try to improve on; though moving one strength up means that another has to move down.

I’ve always realized that I’m a unique individual and that one of my weaknesses is always trying to get along with other people and not make waves. Taking the strength assessment has allowed for me to see exactly how unique I am—as very few people have the same assessment profile.

My Clifton Strength Assessment Profile is as follows:

  1. Learner
  2. Intellection
  3. Input
  4. Achiever
  5. Deliberative
  6. Strategic
  7. Arranger
  8. Restorative
  9. Empathy
  10. Consistency
  11. Connectedness
  12. Positivity
  13. Analytical
  14. Context
  15. Futuristic
  16. Adaptability
  17. Self-Assurance
  18. Responsibility
  19. Ideation
  20. Focus
  21. Developer
  22. Relator
  23. Includer
  24. Belief
  25. Communication
  26. Discipline
  27. Harmony
  28. Significance
  29. Individualization
  30. Competition
  31. Activator
  32. Maximizer
  33. Command
  34. Woo

These traits are divided into four different categories: Relating and Influencing (People-facing traits), and then Thinking and Executing (Inward facing traits). My top five strengths are within the inward facing traits (3 are within the thinking category and the other two are within the executing category). Even if I look at just the top half (so the first seventeen), majority are still within the inward facing traits (there would only be four traits from the relating category, and one trait from the influencing category).

Basically this is telling me that I’m happier (or maybe more at ease) when I’m in a position to do more investigate work (or as I see it—being at the bench). While harmony was low on the list—I still feel like this is a higher trait at times, because I do try to get along with everyone and not really rock the boat (I don’t like confrontations) when at work. This also has me realizing that I really don’t like (or put much effort) into trying to sway people’s opinions (which could also explain why I haven’t really built up my Beachbody business), as the bottom five traits are all within the influencer category.

Basically I’m someone who is more than willing to think on a problem and come up with possible ideas/solutions for said problem. Seven of the eight “thinking” traits are in the top half of my list (ideation is towards the top of the bottom half at number 19). Five out of nine executing traits are also in my top half. I’m better at relating to people than I am at trying to influence them.

This also means that as I’m moving forward in job search/transition this coming year I need to make sure that I’m going with jobs that reflect my strengths (and still try to strengthen some of my “weaknesses”). This means that I also need to start pushing myself again in terms of becoming a lifelong learner again (something I’ve been slightly slacking on the past couple of years).

So what are my goals (based on this assessment)?

            Become a lifelong learner again.

            Job search strategically

            Network strategically

            Find unique ways of accountability

Basically the main goals for 2019—transition into an industry position, and find the joy in learning again. Also as I start looking at other personal and professional development assessment tools, I will find a way to blend them all together—this will allow for me to develop a transition plan that uniquely me and hopefully help me start my reinvention of myself.

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Reflections on my job search this year

As I’m looking at both the calendar and my various goal lists—I’ve realized that I’ve become slightly stagnant in terms of trying to transition into an industry role from academia. Though on an upbeat note, I think I’ve also managed to pinpoint certain areas that have been behind the stagnation in my transition.

Some of the things that I’ve been “allowing” to slow down my transition have been the following:

I’m still not completely sure what I want to do in industry.I know of things that I don’t want to do (which I know if almost half the battle of job searching), but I’m still bouncing between different perspective job titles/positions.

I’m extremely slow in networking/adding value to connections. It isn’t that I don’t want to connect and build a strong network—it’s just I feel award in my progression (probably a hang-up of childhood) and attempts in doing it.

I don’t consider myself an “expert” in things—I enjoy science, but I don’t do nearly as much scientific reading as I should be doing (something I hope to start correcting come the new year).

I have very little knowledge of the biotech, biopharm, and agricultural business worlds (and I read even less on those topics).

So how can I try to fix these issues so that I’m still not stagnate on my career transition, this time next year?

In terms of networking and adding value I’m going to do the following:

Strike up at least 5 linkedin conversations a week (even if it’s just going back and thanking someone for accepting my connection request). I’ll go through and make a spreadsheet (and then a weekly list of who I want to reconnect with) and keep track of things that way. I’ll also try to set aside a specific time period daily to do this.

I’ll also start being more active on linkedin (in terms of liking and commenting on people’s posts). I will also try to be more active indifferent groups on linkedin as well.

In reconnecting with my linkedin network, it will also hopefully help me in time also answer the question of: what position(s) do I want to be targeting. Also over time it should also allow for me to start setting up informational interviews (even if they’re over the phone or via Skype or zoom).

When it comes to trying to determine what position(s) that I may want to start targeting, I’ve realized that it will also require a bit of soul searching, and assessment. I’d actually started doing some of the different assessment quizzes last fall (after becoming unemployed for the third time) to try and start figuring out my strengths and weaknesses.

Though I’ve also realized that after doing the different assessment quizzes, I looked at the results, contemplated them for a while and then shuffled them away and basically “forgot” about them until recently. Going back through one of the assessments, I’ve realized that I’m more of a thinker and a doer, than a manager type of person (based on my Clifton Strength Assessment profile; another post coming on this topic). I’ve realized that I’d probably be happier in positions where I’m learning/thinking/working in a team than being a solo worker and having to oversee a lot of people.

So in addition to trying to figure out the professional lifestyle that I want, I need to make sure that it also complements the personal lifestyle that I want as well. This means that I would prefer positions that allow me to continue to learn and grow, but at the same time has a “manageable” time frame—basically I would prefer job positions that don’t exceed fifty to sixty hour workweeks (basically no more than an ten to possibly twelve hour work day). I know that long days (and possible weekends) are a part of doing scientific research, but I would like that to be balanced with “normal”or even “short” workdays as well.

What am I going to do in terms of becoming an “expert” in my “field”?

One of the things that I’ve realized that I don’t do enough of is reading scientific papers. This is in part due to the fact that through grad school and then both my postdoc positions, I was “semi” limited on the papers that I should be reading. Basically, I was told that I should really just focus on the papers in my field. This meant either reading small RNA papers (both grad school and my first postdoc) or yeast cell cycle regulation papers (my second postdoc). In theory I could still read other papers in other areas, but it had to be in my “free time”, not when I was at work. So, in part I quit reading scientific papers as a way of “thumbing my nose” at everyone. Not the most mature thing to do, but at the time it was how I felt.

So, now I’m going to write a list of scientific topics that interest me; (and see if I can branch out from things I’ve been around fo ryears) and then start downloading different papers in those areas. One goal is going to be trying to write a small review on one or two papers a week for the blog (adding to the science section).

I’m also going to try to read at least one article every other day from various biotech pages, and start following different companies. Basically, I’m going to start trying to get out of the academia mindset and start branching out into the biotech/business mindset as well.

I’m also going to try to get to at least one national meeting in 2019. There are three in the spring (and two are almost back to back in Orlando) that I need to decide which I’m going to attend. Going to a national meeting will allow me to both network more and also see what new trends are happening in the various scientific fields (and hopefully will give me some more ideas for blog (or scientific) topics.

So basically, the goals for 2019 are to get better at time management, and make it the year I transition into an industry position. Look for most posts, as I’m also going to blog updates as a way of accountability as well.

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