This year is the 22nd year that trainees (see sidebar) at NIEHS and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) organized their Biomedical Career Symposium, and the event continues to grow in size and value. The conference was held April 26 at the EPA campus in Research Triangle Park.
The symposium provides skills and information for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students at a critical stage in their careers and lives. Attendees explore the variety of available career options and build networks in the biomedical sciences.
More than 400 postdocs from area universities and governmental organizations registered this year, and more than 90 speakers and reviewers were on hand to provide advice and career counseling. The day featured 12 workshops and nine career panels, covering a comprehensive list of topics and interests.
NIEHS postdocs David Crizer, Ph.D., from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Laboratory, and Stephani Kim, Ph.D., from the Epidemiology Branch, led the year-long planning effort.
From pizza to prominence
The symposium began with an inspiring talk by Stephanie Eberle, the assistant dean of BioSci Careers at Stanford University. In their keynote address, “Reimagining Fit: Moving Toward Personal and Professional Congruence,” Eberle described their own journey from coal miner’s granddaughter and pizza parlor manager in a small town in Ohio to their current position in academia.
They advised the audience to work toward congruence in their personal and professional lives. “I get questions all the time about work-life balance. Work-life balance is about knowing what you want, and having authentic, honest conversations about what those needs are, at work and at home,” they pointed out.
New this year
Based on feedback from previous symposia, organizers expanded the agenda, on which work-life balance and wellness featured prominently. “Nowadays, when you start talking about a career, you’re not just talking about your career, you’re also concerned about how you’re doing in the rest of your life, because that is going to affect your career as well,” Crizer said.
International job-seeking was another topic added to this year’s program. “We invited Dr. Irina Filinova to come from Okinawa and present a talk on how to get international positions,” said Kim. Irina Filinova, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral development specialist at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan.
Organizers streamlined the ever-popular one-on-one curriculum vitae (CV) and resume counseling offered at the symposium. “This year, the great IT team at NIEHS put together an online sign-up process, and it worked well to make the whole activity run efficiently and smoothly,” said Kim.
Something for everyone
Attendees at the symposium expressed a variety of interests. “I’m here to network,” said Jonathan Williams, Pharm.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). “I’m trying to make some connections and figure out my career path, to get a more clear idea of where I want to go and a good strategy for how to get there.”
“I’m here to do the CV-resume review,” said Kathleen McCann, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the NIEHS Macromolecular Structure Group. “I’m getting ready to apply for tenure-track positions, and I wanted to get an outside opinion about my CV.”
Miaofei Xu, Ph.D., a visiting fellow in the NTP Molecular Pathology Group, appreciated the international employment session. “I come from China, so I wanted to look at what I need to do if I want to find a job in China.”
(Ernie Hood is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)