Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Networking on campus

I've been making a lot of trips back to my undergrad institution to bug my old professors with help in the job hunt.  I don't really expect they will be experts, but it is sort of confusing to hear from them that they don't really know anyone who can help, since they are just faculty members.  But I think I can see what the problem is- they think of their network as their peer group, not just the people they know as a result of their professional activities.  Sure they know lots of other professors- but I was kinda hoping that they'd keep in touch with their old students- surely some of them are professional scientists by now, right?  And many of them do keep in touch, but for some reason they don't think that is who I am looking for.

I had success after some pointed questions about one employer 'that, well, actually, several of our recent grads have been hired by Dr. Whoever.  They are just techs, but we have a good relationship with that lab since they like our grads so much. ' Bingo!  Not every contact I am making is a personal introduction of a friend to a friend who opens the gold gates of employment.  Many more of the contacts I have made lately start with an email like "Hi, Someone you haven't heard from in ages suggested I get in touch with you..."  and I still get a decent response rate.

I've found that the best way to job those ideas for my profs is to sit down with them and tell them what I've been up to.  And then when they say, "Oh drug discovery?  We had someone like 3 years ago get recruited to that type of position.." I ask for their name and any other info they have on that.  I'm realizing that a lot of the people who are in a good position to help me, don't really see their position that way. 

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