Lost in translation: Academic work beyond academia

Carrie_Diaz Eaton
In the airport again, in an #awkwardboardingselfie for #jmm2017

 

IUSE_Carrie
Listening to interdisciplinary conversations as part of IUSE grant SUMMIT-P
Qubes
QUBESHub.org

 

Dr. Carrie Diaz Eaton, Unity College

I have a pretty unusual set of grants. The skill set for my grants is the same: working with a variety of people from a variety of different backgrounds and disciplines to advance quantitative skills. For one of these grants, QUBES (Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis, qubeshub.org), I am the QUBES Consortium liaison. My job is to reach out to all sorts of partner organizations, institutions, professional societies and faculty members interested in improving the quantitative skills of all students in life science. This means that I help people make connections across disciplinary silos, travel to conferences, hold leaderships positions in interdisciplinary undergraduate mathematics education, help write collaborative grants, manage budgets, manage communications, and assist in forming strategic partnership agreements. It turns out that my dissertation research in systems theory paid off quite well, since it turns out that social change theory and systems theory are more related than one would think.

That seems like a pretty academic outreach job description, right? But you can get a lot of the same skills through leadership positions at your own university. This isn’t my first experience working across disciplines. I was a President of the Spanish Language Club in college, on the executive board of my Service Sorority, had interdisciplinary course training in biology (including ecology, wildlife, and marine science) and mathematics (including computing and statistics). In grad school, I participated in interdisciplinary university-wide teaching training and book discussions. As faculty at a small liberal arts school, I formed a college-wide teaching discussion group, advised and employed students from a variety of majors, and collaborated with faculty in different departments to improve writing and applications in my math courses. I have also served on several college-wide committees including the general education committee and an accreditation committee, which also has forced me to collaborate regularly with a diverse set of stakeholders.

So how do these academic skills translate beyond academia? Here are some keywords:

  • Non-profit development and partnerships,
  • Working with a diverse set of colleagues across the world,
  • Grant and report writing,
  • Statistics and big data trends,
  • Careers in environmental biology,
  • Mathematical modeling education, undergraduate biology education research (and pretty much everything about the guiding document in biology, Vision and Change),
  • Systems thinking for social movement, systems change theory,
  • Project evaluation,
  • Grant and project management, organizational planning and workflow, team leadership,
  • Social media marketing,
  • 101 tips for travel to anywhere from Bangor, Maine (okay, maybe this is less relevant for most jobs, but I’m a fountain of information about direct flight options from the airports in my state),
  • and more…. *Whew*.

Best learning on the job ever, but on the other hand when people wonder what I do on grant time….

 

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2 thoughts on “Lost in translation: Academic work beyond academia

  1. Hi, Dr. Eaton! I’m preparing to transition from academia to industry right now and I’m finding it very difficult to convince Silicon Valley that I can do things. I have a PhD in computational topology (compu-what…?) from Berlin (So you’re German? No, I’m American.) and will be finishing up my 2nd year as a postdoc at UC Davis (So you’re a teacher? Well, sort of, but not really…). This post was very helpful. Thank you!

    Like

    • Glad it helped.

      If you do have teaching experience, consider also saying “experience in oral and written communication, demonstrated through x semesters teaching.” If is computational anything, consider adding the types of platforms/languages/skills you can use: Linux? RedHat? C++? Matlab? Parallelization of code? Modeling?

      I think some of us are trained to talk within subdiscipline, so try summarizing your skills to another Postdoc in the computer science department over a beer or a soda. Cheapest resume consult ever, right? That may help you refine your language too.

      Liked by 1 person

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