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ONLINE OITE Activities for the Week of July 6, 2020

I hope you are getting ready for a terrific July 4th weekend. Be safe and have fun.

Next week’s workshops—chats, meditations, gatherings are posted below:

  • WRITING PERSONAL AND RESEARCH STATEMENTS FOR GRADUATE PROGRAMS (Tuesday) This workshop will guide you through the process of planning and writing the personal statements that will be an important component of your applications for graduate school admission.
  • BECOMING A RESILIENT SCIENTIST SERIES: III. SELF-ADVOCACY AND ASSERTIVENESS (Wednesday) We all need to develop the skills needed to be assertive and to advocate for ourselves, especially in hierarchical environments where we sometimes feel we do not have a voice. In this webinar, we will discuss how to set boundaries, communicate expectations, ask for feedback and discuss difficult issues with friends, mentors, colleagues and supervisors.
  • CREATING AND PRESENTING VIRTUAL POSTERS (Thursday) This presentation will focus on the scientific and artistic aspects of creating a poster. The workshop will discuss selecting and organizing your data, what to include and what not to include, the key components of a successful poster, layout and font selection, and poster presentation techniques.

We thought maybe you would like to have descriptions of all the Discussion Groups to understand a bit more about what topics they will cover. These are a great place to meet with other trainees facing similar challenges. The Descriptions follow the listing of events below.

#OITEWellnessChallenge: Taking in the Good

July 3 – July 10:   Taking in the Good: Especially Now:  As part of a built-in biological survival mechanism for our species, we humans have a "negativity bias" - or a tendency to notice what is going wrong vs. what is going right.  During the current health and social crises, it is understandable that we find ourselves focusing on all the bad news that is constantly streaming in from all sorts of media outlets, including reports about how some people are acting badly during this difficult time.  But now it is more important than ever to be sure we are taking in the good news, too (e.g., stories of kindness and generosity, community actions to support front-line workers and social activism, creative ways people are staying connected with one another). This week’s challenge is to find some good news, event or action, that will help you re-enforce the positive connections in your brain and help build resilience. Sharing your positive news with us will propagate the event and we will a benefit from each other.

  1. by Twitter – be sure to tag OITE (@NIH_OITE) and use the hashtag #OITEWellnessChallenge – or
  2. by email to: Submit your responses by July 10 


July 6

July 7

July 8

July 9

July 10

Discussion Group Descriptions

Discussion for Building Resilience - Trainees of Color

Jul 06, 2020 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Please join this warm and welcoming group of NIH trainees of color to enjoy a safe space. Let’s share our unique cultures, challenges, and experiences to help you feel connected and supported during these difficult times. Whether you are feeling isolated, unsure, need to talk, or just want to expand your community, this group is for you.  Come join us wherever you are in your personal journey to build and strengthen connections among trainees of color.

Discussion for Building Resilience - Lab/Research Group Transition Stress 

Jul 06, 2020 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
This week we will focus on how to deal with difficult situations and transitions.  Are you not sure how to open a productive dialog with your PI or mentor about career transitions, projects, papers, and personal needs?  Are you transitioning into a new career path or considering a lab change don’t know how to tell your research mentors? No matter what the situation, we want to help you turn a potentially stressful situation into a positive interaction.  You aren't alone.  Let’s talk about it.

Discussion for Building Resilience - Graduate Students

Jul 07, 2020 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm
Your years in graduate school can be an exciting time of personal growth and development. They can also be a frustrating and difficult time. Often, pursuing a graduate degree is simultaneously challenging and rewarding. As a grad student at NIH, you are concurrently balancing research, managing a relationship between your university and NIH, writing a dissertation, and trying to figure out how to tell your PI that you want to graduate. Between worrying about moving your project forward, balancing work and life, making career decisions, finding time to address career development needs, and interpersonal issues with mentors, mentees, and labmates, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and disconnected. Recent events have added uncertainty about when you can complete your projects and when you will reach the next milestone. Join us for a chance to discuss the unique challenges you face as a graduate student.

Discussion for Building Resilience - Assertiveness, Self-confidence, & Imposter Fears

Jul 07, 2020 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Sometimes asking for what we need in an assertive and confident manner can be difficult, especially if we are also experiencing negative thoughts about our accomplishments and capabilities.  At times, our inner voice causes many of us to feel less confident and knowledgeable than we really are - - so we feel like an imposter.  If you ever feel like you have a great suggestion for improving efficiency in your lab but lack the confidence to bring it to the attention of your PI;  or when you need additional resources for your experiments or time off for an important family activity but don't know how to ask, this session will help you to explore strategies for facing and minimizing negative thoughts, identifying positive qualities, and communicating your needs in a more assertive and confident manner.

Discussion for Building Resilience - Struggling to Get a Good Night’s Sleep 

Jul 08, 2020 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Events of the past few months have seen significant impact on our lives, our families and our communities. Daily news streams, challenges in navigating telework, keeping kids entertained and engaged in learning, social distancing and limited ability to get out of our homes or finding creative ways to connect with friends and family have all added to the stress we experience every day. All of these daytime events can keep our minds busy even when we need our thinking to slow and our brains to quiet for sleep at night. Changes in our routines and schedules also impact how comfortable we are at night and well we can rest when our bodies need to. Consider joining this discussion group to help you focus on good sleep hygiene and altering patterns that may be keeping you from a good night’s sleep.  This session is open to trainees of all levels.  

Discussion for Building Resilience - Anxiety and Depression 

Jul 09, 2020 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
We all experience anxiety during stressful events and sometimes the causes and the symptoms of anxiety are a bit more difficult to pinpoint.  Anxiety may cause feelings of inner turmoil and worry that may manifest into physical symptoms, interfere with functioning, and have other impacts including, sometimes depression. Alternatively, depression may also lead to increased anxiety and ultimately to feeling so overwhelmed that it gets in the way of being able to function. 

Discussion for Building Resilience - Job Search & Life Stress for International Trainees 

Jul 09, 2020 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
International and multicultural trainees are a great asset to our research.  We also realize that our international fellows face a unique set of issues and stresses. Searching for a job can be extremely stressful in the best of circumstances.  Watching world events unfold and facing the uncertainty of what the future will hold can be scary. Particularly now, being far from family and home, lacking a local community, and learning a new culture can be difficult and lonely. You are not alone in dealing with these issues, other NIH international fellows are having the same experiences.

Discussion for Building Resilience - Managing Addictive Habits

Jul 10, 2020 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Bad habits are hard to break.  And when we are faced with a monumental shift in our day to day lives, isolation from whom and what we love, and fear about the future, we are likely to rely on bad habits even more than usual.  If you are struggling to make sense of your own addictive behaviors, this internal fight may be particularly challenging while physically distancing from others.  Being secluded from coworkers, friends, and family members, is likely to create a sense of loneliness.  When we feel lonely, this can create negative feelings that we may be tempted to numb.   Using research on habit change, along with some compassionate support, you can gain the tools you need to develop a happier and healthier you and thrive in our new version of normal.

Discussion for Building Resilience - Controlling Cognitive Distortions & the Catastrophic Stories We Tell 

Jul 10, 2020 11:15 am - 12:15 pm
We all have patterns of thinking that are distorted or inaccurate, which often become our habitual way of interacting with the world. These false beliefs are usually self-limiting and self-defeating and result in considerable emotional turmoil and pain.  They may lead to overly negative thoughts about a current or future situation and can lead us to take actions that are against our best interests and derail our goals. Let’s talk about how to recognize these negative thoughts and make positive changes.

Discussion for Building Resilience - Test Anxiety 

Jul 10, 2020 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
So many of our postbacs are currently worried about MCATs, GREs, and other standardized tests that are gateways to the next step. For some of us, no matter what strategies we try we are left feeling that we are not good enough. For others, we know we would benefit from accommodations but stress around the request process hold us back. And it is hard not to feel that our score defines us as a person, even though we know we are so much more than our performance on this one test.  Let's talk about wellness strategies to maintain a healthy balance as you tackle these challenges. 


The 2020 NIH Career Symposium is "gone, but not forgotten!" Relive the entire event on the OITE YouTube channel.

While we wait for captioning of the live Career Symposium sessions, you can access them here:

Opening Welcome from the OITE & “Hello” from Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH

Panel 1 (Life as a Faculty Member)

Panel 2 (Careers in Science Administration)

Panel 3 (Careers in Industry R&D)

Panel 4 (Careers in Industry  non-bench)