April 13, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
University of Miami
Department of BiologyWebsite
Kevin Collins: Yes, I think there will be an enduring impact. Current graduates are entering what has been a difficult and uncertain job market. Academic hiring has been delayed because of financial impacts to higher education. Industry hiring has in some cases been put on hold or jobs have had adapt to incorporate more Remote work options. Until vaccinations become widely available, recent graduates may have to wait until late summer or Fall 2021 for things to get back to what resembles normal. While many college grads could have turned to graduate school in such situations, reductions or outright freezes on graduate school acceptances over the past year may have reduced student career flexibility.
Kevin Collins: Since remote work is still an important component, courses that emphasize bioinformatics, programming, mathematical modeling, and data analysis that complement in-person 'wet lab' research efforts have proven invaluable.
Kevin Collins: An interdisciplinary training program that leverages computational, bioinformatic, and quantitative approaches.
Case Western Reserve University
Department of NeurosciencesWebsite
Ashley Nemes-Baran Ph.D.: Technology has already been on the rise in the life sciences, and the pandemic has made this push even stronger. Any student who is focusing on biomedical sciences right now should embrace technology and begin to learn more about programming, computational modeling, big data and artificial intelligence and how it can be used in their field of interest. In neuroscience, we cannot exist in an isolated box. We really need to learn more about our neighboring fields including computer science, engineering, mathematics and physics. Many of the current jobs available in neuroscience right now are interdisciplinary and require a background in computer programming in addition to neuroscience. Many of these jobs can even be done remotely, and I would expect this to continue to grow in the future. In addition, there is going to be a big focus on the long term effects of COVID-19 infection and the brain, as it's already been shown to infect the nervous system and has been linked to neurological symptoms. These jobs will continue to integrate multiple disciplines including neuroscience, virology, immunology and epidemiology.
Ashley Nemes-Baran Ph.D.: Obtaining a Master's or Doctoral degree is essential to making a significant impact in the research world. While undergraduate degrees can offer a lot of background knowledge, higher education really provides the critical thinking and hands-on skills necessary to initiate and conduct research. Many employers will be more interested in a prospective employee who already has experience, which is gained through these advanced degrees, and the salary is commensurate with experience and education. Additionally, taking courses that provide unique skills such as computer programming can offer prospective candidates a competitive edge depending on the position that they are interested in.
Ashley Nemes-Baran Ph.D.: With a Bachelor's degree in a field of science (biology, chemistry, neuroscience, etc.) graduates can work in academia or industry, and these jobs may be more or less prevalent based on location. Below are a list of different jobs that someone with a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience or a related field can pursue:
Research and Education
-Research Technician: A recent graduate can work in a research laboratory as a research technician and decide to further their education with graduate school, or rise through the ranks and eventually become a laboratory manager.
-Instructor or Lecturer: With some experience, a recent graduate can teach science at a college or university, or even in a K-12 school (different states have requirements for teaching certifications).
-Data Analyst: Recent graduates can analyze data for various companies such as insurance, biotech, advertising, etc.
Health and Medicine.
-Social Worker, Case Manager, Therapist: With some additional training, recent graduates can become therapists or work in behavioral health.
-MRI Technician, Histopathologist: Some positions may require further certifications.
-Biostatistician: Recent graduates can work with healthcare providers to statistically analyze patient data
Writing and Publishing.
-Scientific Writer: There are now many companies hiring scientists to work as scientific writers, which can include helping to publish research, write up studies for the general public or work with pharmaceutical companies.
-Editor, Publisher, Graphic Artist, Medical Illustrator: Graduates can contribute to scientific journals and art departments within educational institutions.
-Science Educator: With background knowledge of science, graduates can write blogs or provide presentations to offer the community scientific information or act as a scientific consultant for companies without the background.
Business and Law.
-Grants Specialist: Graduates can work with private companies or foundations to aid in writing and submitting grants.
-Medical Science Liaison, Spokesperson or Sales Representative: Pharmaceutical companies need people who have a background in science to help explain and promote their product to consumers who may not have a background in science.
University of Utah School of Medicine
Department of NeurobiologyWebsite
David Morton Ph.D.: The pandemic has helped sift out the teaching activities that must be done in person and others that can be done just as well remotely. For example, it is still very difficult to hold a virtual anatomy lab. In stating that however, there will be a continued emphasis on augmented or virtual reality with regards to cadaveric materials. There are also trends towards making the virtual learning environment more than than just a PowerPoint on a zoom meeting. How can smart phone apps, social media, and learning management systems best be utilized to helping students study and learn at their own pace.
David Morton Ph.D.: There are fewer and fewer qualified gross anatomists in the job market. The qualifications to serve as a professor in at the anatomical sciences is a terminal degree of some sort. Most often then not it is a PhD but there are more MDs and DDSs that are teaching anatomy at their respective schools. As federal grant funds continue to be more competitive researchers are starting to consider how they can gain more experience as teachers. For example, the American Association for Anatomy and The Anatomical Society of Great Britain sponsor the Anatomy Training Program for exactly this reason. The certificate provides vocational training to professors who have not had much exposure to anatomy but are wanting to get more involved.
David Morton Ph.D.: Any position that provides an opportunity to teach with faculty mentors to help guide in the initial stages of professorship.
Department of Neuroscience & Regenerative MedicineWebsite
Lynnette McCluskey Ph.D.: While many colleges and universities have had their budgets slashed during the pandemic, academic biomedical research has continued to grow. Research funding in neurodegenerative disorders and COVID-19 related neurologic symptoms is especially prominent. We are also seeing an increase in Biomedical PhD and MD applications as the pandemic has motivated an interest in medicine and biomedical research.
Lynnette McCluskey Ph.D.: Neuroscientist researchers are interested in hiring technicians with a BS and undergraduate or post-bac research experience. We also value those who are mature, motivated, organized, and intellectually-curious. Good time management skills and excellent oral/written communication are also desirable. Most employers of BS level technicians will train on the job for specialized methods, but expect basic skills such as chemistry (i.e. ability to make Molar solutions) and pipetting.
PhD graduates in Neuroscience with published experience in mouse or small model (e.g. C. elegans, Drosophila) behavior, optogenetics, electrophysiology, advanced microscopy, flow cytometry, and computational neuroscience are in demand as postdoctoral researchers. A productive record of quality scientific publications is needed and a predoctoral funding record is a plus.
Lynnette McCluskey Ph.D.: Entry-level technicians with a BS can gain technical and research experience which is helpful for those applying to PhD programs. These positions often have the opportunity to move up in salary and title for talented individuals who wish to stay in research at the BS level.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department of Psychology & Neuroscience
Dr. Kelly Giovanello Ph.D.: Graduates with a BS degree in Neuroscience will continue to secure jobs in pharmaceutical sales, laboratory technician, psychometrist, science writer, science advocacy, health educator, medical or healthcare manager, forensic science technician, pharmacy technician, public policy, residential counselor, regulatory affairs specialist, clinical research assistant, special education assistant, lab animal care technician, sales engineer, law enforcement, natural sciences manager, and advertising/marketing.
Dr. Kelly Giovanello Ph.D.: A major in neuroscience prepares students for graduate studies in neuroscience and related fields (genetics, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, marine biology, cell biology, and medical illustration), and entry into professional schools (medicine, dentistry or other health related fields). When a gap year is taken, several skills should continue to be enhanced, including data analysis, project management, communication, computer and technical skills, leadership, problem solving and critical thinking, patience, dealing with setbacks, and writing. These skills are often strengthened by securing a one-to-two-year academic or industrial laboratory manager position or volunteering in a laboratory.
Dr. Kelly Giovanello Ph.D.: Network, network, network. Securing a position and advancing in one's career is critically dependent on knowing about those career opportunities and options for job growth.