The aim of the CamBRAIN Annual Careers Event, which was held on 3rd May at St John’s College, was to showcase some of the different career paths open to people who have neuroscience degrees.
Many students find it hard to choose what type of career they would like to pursue after finishing their degree. So this event was a unique opportunity for students to hear about jobs ranging from science writing to managing clinical trials through consultancy to running your own lab or company.
The event was opened with a plenary session in which six speakers talked about their career paths. Dr Liam Wilson, who is one of the founders of CamBRAIN, talked about his job with QuintilesIMS. For his job he manages the publicity and he spends much of his days writing to inform the public about technological solutions to scientific problems.
He was followed by Dr Adam Tozer, who is a science writer for Technology Networks. He showed us the different platforms he uses to reach a variety of audiences communicating the newest neuroscience research.
Dr Sara Soleman spoke about her job at GlaxoSmithKline as a Clinical Development Manager. For her job, she manages a dozen different clinical trials at the same time.
Yet another career path was chosen by Dr Tahl Holtzman, who set up his own company, Cambridge NeuroTech, with which he sells technological products which he developed during his post-doctoral position at the university. He saw the potential of commercialising his tools and his company is now very successful.
Dr Ewan St John Smith is a University Lecturer at Cambridge University. He runs his own lab besides tutoring and lecturing.
Last but not least was a talk from Dr Tim Rittman who is a Clinical Research Training Fellow in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. He combines the intense job of a doctor with conducting research and fatherhood very successfully.
The speakers each discussed pros and cons of their careers. Some career paths involve much travelling, whilst others require long working hours. Many of our speakers have had periods during which they were not sure what type of work they would like to do. And for many of them, it took several years before they reached the job they wanted. All of them advised choosing a career based on your interests and deep passions. Several of the speakers who had chosen careers outside of academia mentioned how it can sometimes feel like you waste your degree if you don’t stay in academia. However, the speakers all felt they had gained many transferable skills during their degrees which they definitely still applied to their work now. Throughout their talks, all speakers emphasised the importance of networking.
After the six talks, Sally Todd from the Cambridge University Career Service provided an overview of all services the university provides: ranging from practice interviews and CV writing to help you choose your career area.
A speed networking session with refreshments followed after the talks. All participants were given the opportunity to engage with the speakers. Since many of the speakers had mentioned how building a network had been crucial to developing their career, a network session to put this into practice was very useful.
Meeting people who might be able to alert you to a new job advert or recommend you for a new position is crucial for any career path you may choose!!
The event highlighted that there is a broad variety of jobs available for neuroscientists and with so many opportunities in our field everyone can find a career path which is right for them.
Article by Heleen van ‘t Spijker – CamBRAIN Junior Treasurer