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Help to Assess Your Career Growth

Submitted by amanda.dumsch@… December 4, 2023
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Post written by: Anne Kirchgessner, OITE Career Counselor

Recently, the OITE career counselors read an article by Leigh Branham about Questions People Need to Ask about Career Growth as posted within the National Career Development Association

We adapted some of these ideas for NIH trainees and hope they will be helpful for you so that you will be able to evaluate your career options. 

There are many factors that lead to questions and uncertainty about next career steps or job dissatisfaction.  These factors are listed below along with some strategies to help you eliminate some of this uncertainty and increase your confidence about your next step:

  1. Lack of clarity about your career preferences (your interests, values and skills):

OITE can recommend many resources for you to clarify your career preferences (interests, values, skills):

• Three short assessments you can take from home that match up your interest and skills preferences with various career paths that are related to science

• In myIDP under “Career Exploration”, “Read About Careers” there is an overview of many career paths in science with links to articles, books and professional associations that describe these career paths.  There are many career paths including academia, science policy, intellectual property, science writing, regulatory affairs, principal investigator and entrepreneurship.

 • In order to have access to the Read About Careers section you need to create an account in myIDP.   However, you don’t need to do the myIDP assessments before you see the “Read About Careers” page.   

  • Many NIH trainees underestimate their skills. Meeting with an OITE Career Counselor can help you to be more confident about your skills and to evaluate what you are assessing/ learning about your career preferences. 

  1. Lack of confidence / knowledge about career options

Questions NIH trainees often have include these: 

  • What am I qualified to do? What career options do I have?
  • What job opportunities are out there?
  • How do I make connections in a field of interest?

One way that you can gain more knowledge about your options and answer your questions is through a process called informational interviewing

Informational interviewing will help you to become knowledgeable about career options available to you and begin to make some professional contacts through the process.

Also, use US Department of Labor resources like the ONET Online to learn basic career information about thousands of careers.

  1. Lack of opportunities for training

Most trainees are interested in learning throughout their careers.

Using informational interviewing questions like: 

- Would you tell me about the type of training employees typically have access to? Are there funds to support my attendance at professional conferences?

If  you are at NIH and finding that the training you expected/need is not happening you may want to watch our YouTube videocast Self Advocacy and Assertiveness for Scientists  and make an appointment with a career counselor to talk about ways that you can strengthen your assertiveness skills.

  1. Lack of opportunities to move up from within 

Most NIH fellows in training plan to move on to another stage in their career outside of NIH after their post bac , graduate work or post doc experience .

OITE has many in-person and virtual workshops about job search in various sectors that you can access on the OITE YouTube Channel  and through the OITE Event Calendar

Job searches take time and effort. If you would like some expert support during your job search, please feel free to make an appointment with one of the OITE career counselors. 

When making career decisions and job searching sometimes trainees don’t know what they don’t know about various career sectors and job search resources. You do not have to throw yourself on the mercy of the marketplace or throw a dart at a dart board to pick a career.  OITE is here to help you progress on a career path that will be interesting and satisfying to you.

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