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Career exploration and readiness

OITE activities and resources for career exploration and career readiness.

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Get ready for what’s next!

OITE career counselors and advisors can help you consider your options, prepare your applications, and make your move. We can help you every step of the way and look forward to working with you.

This page offers guidance about career exploration and for the job search process. Visit our educational advising page if you are interested in graduate, professional, or medical school.

We offer many resources for general career exploration and to support you in preparing for the job search process. We also offer guidance and programs tailored to specific career paths and sectors.

Wondering where to start?

  1. Attend workshops and panel discussions to explore your options and learn more about the career competencies needed for success in various jobs.
  2. Meet with a career counselor or advisor to take career-related assessments and to talk about your unique needs
  3. Attend workshops and courses related to specific careers and employment sectors.
  4. Throughout this process, be sure to participate in OITE well-being programs and reach out to talk with a well-being advisor if you notice that your stress level is increasing or you become aware of issues getting in the way of your success.

Career readiness is a core competency for success in all careers, regardless of the sector or specific job responsibilities. These are life-long skills necessary for advancing now and in your future. Start early and engage throughout your NIH training experience.

Career exploration resources

Are you wondering what's next for you? If so, you are in good company - many trainees come to NIH intending to find a career path that fits. OITE is here to help as you explore the options and make decisions for your career.

Attend a workshop

We offer workshops to help you reflect on your past experiences and your future career goals. These are general/overview workshops appropriate for trainees at all levels and with interests in all employment sectors in the U.S. and internationally.

Workshops run throughout the academic year and occur in-person and online. Visit OITE events for detailed information, or check out our archived videos below and on the OITE YouTube channel.

Career Planning for Scientists

Interviewing Skills for Scientists

Networking for Scientists

CVs, resumes, and cover letters

Gather data from career panels

Attend a panel discussion focused on career options, at and away from the bench, and in all sectors. Many panel discussions are hosted by the Graduate Student Council and FelCom and are appropriate for trainees at all levels. If you are a postbac planning your next steps, you may benefit from the postbac career exploration series.

Our premier career exploration event with over a dozen panels and extensive networking opportunities is our Virtual NIH Career Symposium. This takes place in May and is an opportunity to hear from a large number of career professionals at once.

Many of our graduate students and postdocs are Visiting Fellows with roots across the globe. Our NIH Visiting Fellows Committee hosts the Science Voices From Home series to connect trainees with information on international jobs. Many of the speakers are NIH alumni who can directly address how they developed job search skills while training at NIH.

Career panels run throughout the academic year and occur in-person and online. Visit OITE events for detailed information and find archived videos on the OITE YouTube channel.

Meet with a career counselor

OITE Career Counselors can help you explore careers and prepare for your job search through individual consultation, assessments, and conversations. Many NIH trainees wait to meet with a career counselor, thinking that career counseling is something you do toward the end of your training experience. Therefore, we offer the following guidance about introductory meetings early in your training experience:

  • If you are a postbac who is uncertain about your educational and career goals, meet with a career counselor immediately after arriving at NIH so you can begin exploring your options immediately.
  • New NIH graduate student and postdocs should consider a brief introductory meeting early in your training experience, so that that you can tend to your career readiness skills from the outset. The timing depends on the anticipated length of your NIH training experience, but generally should be within the first year so you begin developing critical core competencies early in your training experience.

Join a career exploration group

This group is facilitated by an OITE career counselor and is designed to provide expert input, peer support, and accountability for career-oriented activities. Key topics covered include: assessing our skills, values and interests; networking; transferable skills, and more.

There are two career exploration groups, one for postbacs and another for graduate students and postdocs/fellows. These groups are virtual to accommodate trainees on all NIH campuses. The groups run in the winter and spring; registration is announced on OITE listservs and in our events page.

Sector-specific career resources

Trainees at the NIH are prepared for jobs in every sector. Our alumni's paths span diverse sectors and roles, from academic faculty or administration, industry positions in active research and in support of business enterprise, government jobs in every agency, and non-profit work. The OITE continues to support trainees as they pursue all these career paths.

The career-path specific resources we've curated are driven by trainee demand and based on the most commonly pursued career paths. Remember that your path is unique to your set of skills, interests, and values. If you are looking for a resource and don’t see it, set up an appointment with a career counselor or reach out so that we can point you in the right direction.

Managing career indecision and job search stress

We appreciate that the career exploration and job search processes can be stressful, even when we are making progress and feel some momentum. These are critical decisions that require us to balance personal, professional, and family needs.

Complete the Resilient Scientist series, connect with peers in our various resilience groups, make an appointment with a well-being advisor, and watch these key videos.

To do well, we have to be well. Don’t ignore this important career readiness skill.


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