Graduate students and postdocs looking to network for their future career prospects are often lacking in such opportunities at their universities. Instead, it can be useful to look outside of the university setting, to events organized in the scientific community, for opportunities to network with professionals from other academic institutions, industry, and non-research enterprises. One such opportunity is the NatureJobs Career Expo, with events taking place this fall in London, New York City, and Dusseldorf.
This (free!) event, organized by Springer Nature, is a combination career fair and career development conference. On the career fair side, over 50 companies exhibit at each event. In addition, renowned speakers in the area of career development speak on topics such as networking, acing an interview, preparing a CV, and “how to succeed” in a variety of academic and non-academic careers.
I attended the NatureJobs Career Expo in 2014 and 2016, when it was held in Boston. Having attended as both a first- and third-year graduate student, I took different lessons away from the event each time and can see the benefit to students attending at any time during their graduate or post doc education. During my first year, it was eye-opening to get a glimpse at the range of careers and locations in which I could possibly work after earning a PhD. As a third-year student, I was keen to take advantage of career development workshops and develop skills in negotiation, career transitions, and networking efficiently. For postdocs or students closer to graduating, the career fair, where representatives from a variety of international companies are on hand to discuss job openings and collect CVs, is also extremely valuable.
If you’re interested in learning the schedule and registering for the 2017 editions of the NatureJobs Career Expo in any of its three cities, you can click here. Be prepared for a full day of expanding your career prospect horizons and networking with both established professionals and other early career researchers. As this is a professional event, I would recommend dressing in business casual or business attire, in order to make a polished first impression. Be sure to bring along business cards and, if you are in the throes of job hunting, copies of your CV. Importantly, because the list of exhibitors at each city’s career fair is available online in advance of the events, you can tailor your CV to specific companies and positions that interest you, and focus on building a rapport with those recruiters during the Expo.
And if there is no Expo near you this year, never fear - it is often held in new locations each year, so it’s likely to be closer to you in the future. You can still follow the action at each event using dedicated Twitter hashtags - which can be found on the information pages for each city. Typically, the feed will include highlights from the conference talks, including speaker quotes and important lessons from their talks. It also provides an opportunity - for those in attendance and not - to interact with each other and with the speakers both during the event and afterwards, in a more informal atmosphere.
Overall, the NatureJobs Career Expo is a useful event for both educational and networking purposes. While it may appear to be geared towards those approaching or in the midst of a job search, there is value to graduate students and postdocs attending the event even if they are not yet at that stage. The speakers’ lessons are applicable across job stages and types. And for scientists looking for that next position, the variety of industries and locations represented at the Expo means that the career fair is valuable to all in attendance. I highly recommend this event to any grad student or postdoc looking to grow in the area of career development.
Aliyah is a postdoc at the University of Virginia, where she studies cancer immunology. She is also an advocate for science communication. You can find her on Twitter @desabsurdites and on her blog at www.aliyahweinstein.com.