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Preparing for Science-Based Non-Traditional Careers

As fellows and staff scientists at the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR), many of you will be exploring and choosing from various science-based career options in the future.  The Office of Training and Education (OTE) at the Center for Cancer Training (CCT) is hosting a weekly workshop 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-CCR 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 workshop will be held Wednesdays between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. for 8 weeks at the Bethesda campus, September 25 through November 6, 2019, Building 37/conference room 4041 (Rm. 6041 on November 6). The presentations will be streamed live for video teleconferencing (VTC) to the Shady Grove campus, Rm. 3W-030 (Rm. 2W-030 on November 6) and to the Frederick campus, to a conference room in Building 549 and to the NIEHS campus in Research Triangle Park, NC.

This workshop is open to all postdoctoral, clinical fellows and staff scientists; however, registration is limited to the first 90 people who sign up at the Bethesda campus. Those of you who plan to participate by VTC should also register so that we can send you the speaker handouts.


Registration is now closed.

There is no registration fee.

For more information contact:

Ravi Dhar, PhD

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

2019 Speakers

Read more about the speakers and their topics for the 2019 sessions.

September 25 - Andrew Ritcheson, PhD, PMP, Deloitte Consulting, VA

October 2 - Alain Silk, PhD, Division of Chemistry and Toxicology Devices, FDA

October 9 - Ashwin Kulkarni, MS, BioHealth Innovation, INC 

October 16 - Tiffany Wallace, PhD, Center for Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, NCI

October 23 - Brandy Heckman-Stoddard, PhD, MPH, Division of Cancer Prevention, NCI

October 30 - Jeanelle Spencer, PhD, Ashfield Healthcare Communications

November 6 - Pamela Gallagher, PhD, Division of Molecular Genetics and Pathology, FDA


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