By: Lily Raines
I’ve been very fortunate in a lot of ways the past few months. I was fortunate that the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) was looking for science outreach interns last year. I was lucky to be offered the spot, and lucky that my advisor continued to be a great mentor and let me go work with them for three months. That wasn’t surprising, as he’s always been a great mentor and even spoke at our very first science café (see photo below), but I know it’s a unique position to be in as a grad student. I had a great time and learned a lot working at ASBMB with Geoff Hunt (@TheGeoffHunt), and I highly recommend anyone interested in science outreach check out their website for great resources. There’s information on awesome programs going on near you (yes you!) and resources to help us all reach out more effectively.
One of the many projects I got to help with was the very initial planning stages of the Science Communication and Outreach Career Symposium. This was dreamed up and run by Teresa Evans (@TEvansMoore) as a way to connect students within the University of Texas system and to teach attendees about all sorts of careers scientists can pursue. As the program became more and more defined, I became more and more jealous I didn’t live in Texas! It looked like the perfect conference for me and a great networking opportunity, but I found it hard to imagine covering a plane ticket and two nights at a hotel on my own. Travel awards for graduate students are typically reserved for research conferences where students present their work, so I resigned myself to checking the Twitterverse and asking my friends about it afterward.
My next lucky break came when the Biomedical Careers Initiative (BCI) announced they were having a travel award contest specifically for students to go to career focused conferences! The timing could not have been better, and I was lucky enough to win an award to cover travel costs. I stuffed my research poster leftover from the last Biophysical Society Annual Meeting into a too-small poster tube and packed my bags.
In summary, the conference was exactly what I’d hoped it would be. I met so many people doing amazing work, both from Texas and among the ASBMB Public Outreach Committee members I’d only known through conference calls, and that was really inspiring. I got a lot of actionable advice from people who have made science outreach their career, and I learned things we can do to improve Project Bridge’s own work in Baltimore. Twitter is de rigueur, and I’ve been trying harder to get myself out there and meet even more people (in person and online). Teresa Evans wrote up a great summary of the conference, including notes from all the career sessions, that I highly recommend reading. It’s better than any illegible notes I took!
The ASBMB is looking for science outreach and science writing interns to start February 2016, so if you’re a Hopkins Ph.D. student and interested in pursuing either of these careers, I highly recommend it! Maybe you too can give your career transition a kick start and start on a series of lucky breaks. Even if you’re not into outreach for a career, they have lots of other internships and other resources to help whichever path you decide to take.
If you want to talk about internships or outreach more, feel free to get in touch with me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by Twitter (@LilyR42), or come meet me at one of our awesome events around town!