Taking a different Career Path

Advice from the Biomedical Postdoctoral Council


Contributions by
Patrick P Rose, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Microbiology
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

If you would take a poll of scientists in academia on what Career Tracks there are post-graduate, they will confidently list (1.) a tenure-track faculty position in Academia at various types of universities, or (2.) a job in industry. Rarely does anyone mention other career paths even though there are a wide variety of opportunities to pursue. Maybe it is because a certain stigma exists that anything other than an Assistant Professorship or a job in industry is considered subpar. Regardless, we are here to dispel this stigma and give you a chance to look beyond the beaten paths.

On the following pages, we will list all kinds of information regarding career opportunities beyond the Postdoc. You will find listings on (A.) a variety of opportunities at Penn you can take advantage of to add some depth to your resume, which will also allow you to get a peek (and real world experience) into different careers where you can apply your science/medical degree, (B.) different career paths that you might find interesting and suggestions as to how to go about moving into such a career path, and (C.) other useful resources to get you on your way.

This information is a dynamic set of resources, as information changes so will this document. To make this so dynamic, you can connect via the UPenn Biomedical Postdoc LinkedIN site, where you can post questions for fellow Postdocs, for example as to what they have done to pursue this or that career. We would also like to encourage you to share your experiences, reveal little tricks you figured out, provide suggestions and updates to resources you found here. Lastly, you will want to keep an eye on our Seminars and Workshops page because we will be inviting speakers to talk about the different career paths they have chosen, what they do, why they do it, and how they got there. Importantly, while it may appear that you are stuck in a specialized field with limited opportunities, do not despair. There are plenty of opportunities to build on an already successful career and we are here to make you aware of these opportunities.

Food For Thought

A recurring theme you will find throughout this site is that your approach towards moving into a different career path will be highly dependent on your current situation and your willingness to take lateral steps or steps backward in order to move forward. For example to get a foot into a new professional arena many times unpaid internships are the best way to go; however, someone with a family will be less likely and willing to take an unpaid internship because he/she still has to provide for their family, versus someone who is single. No matter how you are willing to accomplish your goal, we will try to list as many opportunities as there are available that are tailored to your situation. Some opportunities will be easier to attain compared to others, and we will try to reveal all the tips and tricks we have heard about. Our goal is to provide you with the recommendations and first-hand experience to make it easier for you to succeed.

How to go about using the Information

Below we have broken down all the information into four categories: Career Paths, Opportunities at Penn, Professional Societies, and Additional Readings. Each will contain some general information, our take and advice pertaining to the specific category, followed by list of opportunities with links and short descriptions. The short descriptions should give you a general idea of what each opportunity has to offer. The direct link will take you to the respective website with contains more detail. It should be noted that many of these places, but not all, require US citizenship, something you should be aware of before applying.

Career Paths

Opportunities at PENN

Professional Societies

Additional Readings

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