Career Advice for Young Women In Science, from Women in Science
While the San Francisco Bay Area continues to be an important hub for leading biotech firms, women are still significantly underrepresented in STEM jobs. Fortunately, a number of high schools in San Francisco are cultivating a pool of talent for the biotech industry. The biotech career pathway programs at Raoul Wallenberg High School, Galileo Academy of Science and Technology and Abraham Lincoln High School are engaging students in work-based learning opportunities that support their technical education in biotechnology.
During the San Francisco Unified School District’s Spring Break, Clovis Oncology provided a work-based learning opportunity to 7 young women of the Abraham Lincoln High School’s biotech program. With the help of Young Women In Bio (YWIB), Clovis Oncology provided each of the 7 young women with a mentor for a job shadow experience. Each mentor represented various areas of expertise in the biotech industry -- human resources, clinical research and operations, business analytics, commercial operations and project leadership.
While the girls experienced a day-in-the-life of a professional in biotech, one of the biggest takeaways from their job shadow day was the advice they received from their mentors. Having had some time to look back and think about what they’ve learned during their career journeys, the mentors shared some advice with the young women that can help them navigate through their education and career journeys.
Here are 10 pieces of advice that the Clovis Oncology mentors provided the young women in science:
1) Your entry-level job is important. Getting an entry-level job is one of the most important things you can do to springboard your career. An entry-level job is important work experience and many jobs will ask for at least 2 to 3 years of work experience before they will even consider you for the position. An entry-level job will provide you with the workplace skills that you can bring to your next job. Volunteering is also considered work experience. So, volunteer and gain experience.
2) Learn how to manage your money. The transition from high school to college or career often excludes money management courses or training on how to budget your money. Managing your finances is a huge part of adulthood. Educating yourself about understanding your finances, how to deal with bank accounts, how to pay for college, how to budget and how to invest your savings will save you large amounts of debt in the future. Even more so, you will be much more independent and in control of your life. So, while you are still in high school, take some courses on money management or financial literacy.
3) Keep in touch with mentors and professors. Reach out. Don’t be shy. Be self-motivated. Keep in touch with your mentors and professors. They are part of your network and a great resource to help you navigate your next journey after graduation. They might even have opportunities for you. The relationships that you make today can be helpful to you throughout your career path.
4) Look backwards and connect the dots. Sometimes life gives you these little events and they look meaningless, but when you reflect on them later, they are really dots that connect with these lines that make sense on your life’s journey. So, even if something seems meaningless now, it will make greater sense in the future as you move forward in your career path. Looking backwards and connecting the dots will also help you realize what you enjoy and what motivates you. Hence, take some time to reflect and connect the dots to help you make the best career choices in the future.
5) Go wherever you fit in, where you can afford. Go and have fun and the learning will follow. And if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, it’s okay because you will learn from that experience. The door will open up when the timing is right. In the meantime, do not rack up lots of educational debt because it is not worth it.
6) Be entrepreneurial and create your part-time job. Young people are busier, savvier and more creative nowadays. If traditional part-time jobs don’t seem to fit into your schedule, think of about what you enjoy doing already and turn it into a part-time job. Do you enjoy math and have a clever way of solving problems? Consider hosting a workshop on the weekends and share your expertise with your peers and younger children.
7) You are your best advocate. Go on informational interviews and learn from the people you meet. This is also a good way to hone your interviewing skills and improve the way you present yourself. Take advantage of the opportunities around you. This can also mean creating opportunities for yourself by asking people in your network if they know of any organizations that could use someone with your set of skills.
8) Don’t accept “no” for an answer. Do not simply accept a “no” for an answer. Be persistent. If necessary, find another way of asking the question or another way of turning a missed opportunity into the perfect opportunity for you. Women don’t ask for things for themselves often enough. Men are more likely to ask. So, don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask the question, you may never get the answer you are looking for.
9) It’s not where you go to college or the job you have that matters, it’s what you make of it. Make the most of the opportunities that are provided to you. If you have a chance to learn new skills, learn them. If you have a part-time job right now, excel in that position. Your industrious and smart work ethic will be appreciated by those who work with you and you will be rewarded in the future. 10) Know how to pivot. Your career journey will most likely involve many turns and unexpected surprises. When this happens, know how to pivot and take the next path that will help launch (or relaunch) your career. To pivot, recognize your set of skills and how you’ve acquired them along your educational and career journey. Then think about how you can take those skills to your next job. In every job, you will acquire transferrable skills that are applicable to different kinds of industries. Collect these skills and use them wisely to help you navigate your career journey.
Kindly written/provided by Jennielyn Dino Rossi, California Life Sciences Institute, April 11, 2018
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