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Preparing for Science-Based Non-Traditional Careers

As fellows and staff scientists at the National Cancer Institute, many of you will be exploring and choosing from various science-based career options in the future.  The Office of Training and Education (OTE) in the Center for Cancer Training (CCT) is hosting weekly workshops to help participants learn about the various career opportunities that lie outside of independent academic research. Given these may include unfamiliar roles outside of traditional bench science, we have invited guest speakers from various science-based backgrounds to provide information and insight that will help inform decisions about potential future endeavors.  

Speakers from biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, government organizations and other fields present on diverse topics and share their experiences and individual journeys while describing best practices for getting a job, setting work expectations and navigating unique business-oriented scientific cultures.  Many of the speakers are former scientists who have successfully transitioned to different science-based career tracks outside of academia.  If you are thinking about choosing a non-independent research-based career path, this workshop will help shed light on how to position yourself while at NIH and improve your chances of success in the future.

The biographies of invited speakers will help reveal the types of job functions on which they will be presenting.

Workshop Topics

Each workshop session covers topics such as:

  • Interpreting different job postings
  • What companies look for in candidates
  • Cover letter and resume writing best practices for specific jobs and industries
  • Project management
  • Developing communication and leadership skills–effectively conveying these skills to employers
  • How to leverage experiences at NCI to develop the skills to succeed in industry
  • Industry business culture
  • Expectations for collaboration across divisions within companies
  • Transitioning from academic research to industry–new and different roles
  • Scientific communication, strategy development and writing
  • Technology transfer
  • Navigating USA Jobs
  • Preparation required for different science-based career options
  • Metrics for success

Takeaways from Previous Workshops

Some of the major takeaways from previous workshops include:

  • There are significant differences in the application and interview processes for non-academic jobs versus independent academic research positions.
  • It is far better to begin your job preparation earlier rather than later (preferably during your first year at NIH), but it is never too late to start!
  • There are many positions existing within industry and the government that do not involve bench sciences and require unique processes and preparation. 
  • The workshop helps participants identify things to do while at NIH that will better position them for the future.

Location and Time

The PSNC workshop will be held on Wednesdays over 9 weeks from September 15 through November 10, 2021 between 3:00 and 4:00 PM.   The presentations will be held virtually via WebEx.

This workshop is open to all staff scientists, staff clinicians, postdoctoral, postbaccalaureate, research and clinical fellows.   Registration is required to receive WebEx details and speaker handouts. 


Registration is now CLOSED.

For more information contact:

Ravi Dhar, Ph.D.

Program Manager
Office of Training and Education
Center for Cancer Training
National Cancer Institute

2021 Fall Speakers

Read more about the speakers and their topics for the 2021 sessions.

September 15 – Andrea McCollum, Ph.D., Patent Examiner, United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO), VA

September 22- Tiffany Wallace, Ph.D., Program Director, Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, NCI

September 29 – Minal Patel, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director, Truth Initiative Schroeder Institute, Washington, DC

October 6 – Jeanelle Spencer, Ph.D., Associate Scientific Director, Medical Communications, Ashfield Medcomms: Medical Communications Agency

October 13 – Cedric Cagliero, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Arcellx, Gaithersburg, MD

October 20 – Nicholas Warren, Ph.D., Science and Health Policy Analyst, American Association of Cancer Research, DC

October 27 – Juergen Klenk, Ph.D., Principal in Deloitte's Federal Health Sector, VA

November 3 – David Wei, Ph.D., DABT., Toxicologist, FDA

November 10 – Brandy Heckman-Stoddard, Ph. D., M.P.H., Chief, Breast and Gynecologic Cancer Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention, NCI

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