Resources for Rebooting Your Science Career: Recommended books, blogs, and articles
Science career alternatives: Resources for PhDs
- Science Magazine careers blog
- Versatile PhD
- Escape the Ivory Tower blog
- Worst Professor Ever blog
- Another Academic Bites the Dust blog
- Leaving Academia blog
- 27 and a PhD blog
- 10 Essential Non-Academic Blogs to Watch
- Non-academic science career information aggregator – The Prodigal Academic
- PhD to Consulting (Management consulting…just saying)
- Resources: Non-traditional careers for Scientists – Balbes Consultants
- “OMG: So Many Science Careers” – Science Magazine careers blog
- Non-academic career resources – PhDs.org
- “Should I stay or should I go?” – Nature Magazine careers blog
- Alternative Careers in Science: Leaving the Ivory Tower, by Cynthia Robbins-Roth
Resources for PhD students, postdocs, and academics
- Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning an MA or PhD, by Robert Peters
- How to Get a PhD: A Handbook for Students and their Advisors, by Estelle Phillips (information specific to the UK postgraduate system)
- PhD Comics
- The Prodigal Academic: A blog about a scientist returning to academia after 7 years away
Really good job-hunting advice
- IWill Teach You to Be Rich blog: Author Ramit Sethi started off writing, shall we say, candid? advice for young people about personal finance and saving money. His blog has evolved to include some of the best advice I’ve seen on earning more money through big wins: negotiation, finding your dream job, and earning side income via freelancing.
- Ask the Headhunter: Advice from the other side of the table from experienced recruiter Nick Corcodilos. See his blog, featured Q&A, and articles.
- Ask a Manager blog: if you don’t, she’ll tell you anyway. Hiring manager Alison Green answers reader questions about everything from how long to wait after an interview before prodding an unresponsive HR to “My employer is doing X, is that legal or normal?”
- Getting Found on Monster, Part I: article from the Marketing Headhunter about the importance of your headline
- Stereotypes of PhDs and how to fight them when pursuing non-academic jobs: University of Michigan career center
- How to use Natural Networking to connect with anyone – Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You to be Rich blog
- Make Your Contacts Count, by Anne Baber – A practical, step-by-step guide to getting the most out of networking opportunities.
Proactive career development planning
- Study Hacks – Cal Newport, computer science PhD, decodes patterns of success in remarkable people who lead successful, enjoyable, meaningful lives. He explains why “Follow your passion!” is terrible advice and smashes the conventional wisdom that to be busy is to be productive. And all this from a former MIT postdoc.
- Making Healthy Career Transitions and Choices – This article by Stephen Rosen asks why there is so frequently a mismatch between career and a person’s skills, interests, or values, as well as how does this happen to intelligent, capable people?
- What Color is Your Parachute? book and website by Dick Bolles – I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but this book is the classic career-changer’s guide, with exercises for readers to explore their strengths, interests, and values to hone in on the right career path.
Never bore an audience again! – Resources for improving communication skills
- Toastmasters International – There is no better way to become a better public speaker than to practice speaking and, for crying out loud, seek feedback! In Toastmasters, you’ll also watch other speakers and give them feedback. There are clubs everywhere, probably at your school or workplace. Check it out!
- The Craft of Scientific Presentations, by Prof. Michael Alley of Penn State – This book, website, and workshop are full of resources that will forever change the way you present technical information. In particular, the Assertion-Evidence design of slides CHANGED MY WORLD – check out all the before-and-after examples. This should be required reading for every STEM professional.
- The books of Edward Tufte, guru of effective design of information graphics and vocal critic of Powerpoint. I especially liked The Visual Display of Quantitative Information and Visual Explanations. I haven’t read Beautiful Evidence yet, but it includes the chapter “The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint.” If you have the chance to take his one-day course, it comes with copies of his 4 books! Check out his online forum.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie – The classic motivational guide to developing stronger interpersonal relationships. One thing I remember most about this book was the adage that if you want people to be interested in you, get interested in other people! Good advice for salesmen as well as anyone who wants to have a conversation and be thought friendly and interesting rather than a bore.
- TED talks – get inspiration from great speakers
Tool up your non-technical and transferable skills
- Transferable Skills Programme, Imperial College London Graduate School of Engineering and Physical Sciences – This list of courses will get you thinking about the skills you bring to the table as a technical professional, and some ideas for further training to seek.
Find other people’s behavior a mystery? What about your own? Get inside heads with these amazing books on behavioral economics and psychology
- Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow – The original behavioral economist takes us on a tour of his seminal work exposing the cognitive biases and rules-of-thumb that are an integral part of the way our brains function yet challenge the conventional wisdom that humans are all rational and logical.
- Richard Thaler, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness and his Nudges blog
- Freakonomics blog
- Chip and Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change when Change is Hard – Use behavioral psychology to motivate change in organizations or yourself.
- Dan Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us – An innovative look at career satisfaction. What truly motivates us? How can we use that knowledge to work smarter and live better?
- Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future – the future belongs to a very different kind of worker with a very different kind of mind.
- Derren Brown, Tricks of the Mind – This BBC television mentalist lets you inside his world of hypnosis, cold-reading, and memory feats.
- Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and the latest, The Honest Truth about Dishonesty
- Richard Wiseman, Did You Spot the Gorilla? – The psychology that separates those who capitalize on opportunities and those who are oblivious to them.
- Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Surprising research reveals that we’re more likely to succeed if we think of our brain as a muscle we can exercise and grow via hard work and even failure. Thinking of our abilities as fixed and innate makes us hypersensitive to criticism and locks us inside our comfort zones – makes it kind of hard to improve.
- All that economics and psychology research is well and good, but satisfy your curiosity for the hard science behind it with these books on the neurological basis for our behavior: Dean Buonamano’s Brain Bugs: How the Brain’s Flaws Shape our Lives, and Norman Doidge’s The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science.
Science as a Hobby: Recreational Reading in Science and Technology
- BetterExplained.com – Learn right, not rote.
- Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
Biological and medical science
- Ben Goldacre, Bad Science blog, book, and Guardian column
- Mary Roach, author of Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.
- Sharon Moalem, Survival of the Sickest: The Surprising Connections between Disease and Longevity – What if some of the most common inherited diseases like diabetes and hemochromatosis (life-threatening accumulation of iron in the body) actually helped humans survive past threats like ice ages and the bubonic plague?
Cosmology and modern physics
- Brian Greene, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos – Wow. A marathon tour through the major modern theories of multiple universes, with context-providing detours into relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Big Bang.
- Michio Kaku, Physics of the Impossible – Takes a look at sci-fi science traditions from teleportation to time travel and what it would take to bring them to reality.
- Michio Kaku, Physics of the Future – Starts by asking why predictions of the future of technology are usually wrong. Then sets out a few predictions of his own for the next 100 years of technology, in the areas of computing, medicine, energy, space travel, and more. He does this by extrapolating from cutting-edge research and also remembering that, unlike technology, our brains have not evolved in 100,000 years – to become widespread, any successful technology must fit the “Caveman principle.”
- Science Channel’s Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman – A thought-provoking series that rounds up Morgan Freeman and assorted theoretical physicists to answer such existential questions as “Does time exist?” and “What happened before the Big Bang?” The 3rd season got a bit more into our own inner space, covering the mysteries of human psychology and identity.
- Brian Cox, Science Channel’s Wonders of the Universe – This rock-star physics professor delivers science with a smile.
- Bill Bryson, The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way – English is weird. Tough, though, and bough are all pronounced differently. Did you know that the words messenger and passenger only exist because messager and passager just didn’t roll off the tongue (doesn’t bode well for could have and should have)? Words have dozens of synonyms and multiple ways to say everything (partly because English has its major origins in German and French). According to the author, we are the only language that has, or needs, a thesaurus. A witty tour of our language by the travel author.