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From lab tech to CSO: 4 steps for navigating your career

By: Roche Life Sciences

Posted: May 04, 2015 | Career & Lifestyle

Chances are as a new researcher, you are wondering what the best ways to move up in the field of biosciences are. Right now is quite an exciting time to get into research programs, especially since funding is increasing on a worldwide scale and the public still demands innovations in life sciences and disease research.

Why do you want to start a career in life sciences?
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, becoming adept in any research field requires five attributes that can help burgeoning scientists meet their career goals, including:

  1. Thinking independently
  2. Coming up with creative solutions
  3. Remaining curious about how and why things work
  4. Taking approaches to your research with perseverance
  5. Maintaining discipline and focus when you need it

There are are many practical research tips that can assist young researchers looking to advance their skills and promote their work. Here are a few to keep in mind as you continue to become adept in assay development. 

1. Balance patience with versatility
At times, your work will not be consistent and funding will come in waves. This means that you need to be mentally agile and know when it is time to push through work or step back and analyze. On the flipside, giving yourself time to work out problems creatively is also an effective tool in trying to climb the ladder while in the office, especially when things might be a little slower in the lab.

2. Don't be shy about promoting your work
While making sure your assays and research results are accurate is important, it's is up to you to promote your work. Life sciences can get competitive at times, and if you have investigated a problem and produced viable results, you will need to take the initiative to communicate those results. In fact, part of your growth into a postdoc researcher, principal investigator or chief security officer is the ability to publish work and gather more funding.

"Reading journals and attending conferences can let you know what is and what is not suitable to publish"

This means that as you grow more sophisticated in your research, you need to know what is and what is not suitable to publish. This is where reading journals and attending conferences can allow you to stay in the know. MIT also recommends using critical reviews as a learning experience as well, as they can shed light on the work you are conducting from an outside perspective.

3. Become a good writer
Moving up the ladder in the research department is going to require you to submit research requests for funding, which means that you will need to become adept in writing grants. In some fields of research, junior lab techs can serve alongside senior colleagues as co-PIs, which can give them an upper hand in learning the ropes of grant writing.

4. Challenge yourself, but be realistic
It's important not to say yes to everything when you are just starting out. While up-and-coming researchers need to stay positive and optimistic, they must also avoid the negative implications of doing too much at once. Sticking to proposals that you are well-versed in can also help you become specialized. This can potentially allow you to compete globally and become more productive in the future.

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