Blog Post May 04, 2016

Setting career goals... Do you have a plan?

Postdoc careers advice The Jackson Laboratory

"Pursuit of postdoctoral training is often independent of a clear career goal."

The above phrase is the subheading of a research article published in CBE Life Sciences Education, a journal of the American Society of Cell Biology, entitled “What Do I Want to Be with My PhD?” The article outlines results of a study by Kenneth D. Gibbs and Kimberly A. Griffin, wherein they conducted focus groups with nearly 40 biomedical scientists about the career decisions they had — or hadn’t — made, and factors that contributed to the process.

One of the study participants indicated entry into the postdoctoral position to “keep all of [her] options open.” Another shared that she “didn’t know what I was going to do when I left grad school. I just knew I didn’t want to stay in academia.” Do you find yourself in either camp? Perhaps you entered postdoctoral training to ensure that all career options, including faculty positions, would remain open to you. Perhaps you were unsure of what to do next, and so entered a postdoctoral position without a plan.

Regardless of where you are in your own decision-making process about the future, help is available at The Jackson Laboratory. I am a certified career counselor serving all graduate students and postdocs at JAX Genomic Medicine in Connecticut. Carrie Cowan, a postdoctoral administrator with a long and distinguished history of serving graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, is also available to meet individually with trainees in Maine to discuss career options, goals, and to develop a plan. Don’t delay… schedule an appointment with one of us today!


Melanie Sinche is an educator, writer, and career counselor with more than 15 years experience working with and advising graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in university, non-profit, and government agency settings. Her work at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine focuses on the career and professional development of all trainees through the development of novel educational programming. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniesinche.