In the spirit of industry and discovery, Schmid College launched a new series of programming this past fall: Career Discovery Chats. For our pilot semester, we invited our Science Forum guest speakers to spend part of their time on campus meeting with students to discuss career paths, industry observations, and making the most of their time in college. Students were able to ask questions personal to their goals and experience and garnered insights covering a variety of subjects.

On career trajectories

Kater Murch, Assistant Professor of Physics at Washington University spoke about the value of post-doc work and how fun it can be. While it is important to enjoy the work you are doing, be mindful to not neglect the administrative steps along the way, such as applying for grants and awards – they will help build your CV and get your name in front of more people. He also encouraged students to be open to those moments when life will nudge you toward a certain path. Those instances are not always “big lightning strike” obvious life-changing moments, but it is important to stay open to the possibilities out there.

The sentiment was echoed by corporate sustainability experts Mike Brown and Jeff Wilson, who told stories of their own career trajectories which wandered quite a bit before they landed in what they described as “dream jobs.” Jeff and Mike both urged students not to be discouraged if they felt they were not in the right position or company – use the opportunity to learn as much as you can so you will have more to bring to the next job. Being open to “disruptions” on your career path makes life interesting and adds to your collective life skills.

Industry observations

Marine biologist Pete Klimley reminded students that science is inherently interdisciplinary and to keep thinking in that way as you move into the work force. He also noted that it is a good time for women in sciences and there is nothing to lose by showing a willingness to learn on the job.

Kater Murch and Chapman professor Justin Dressel noted that physicists get hired into all kinds of fields – wall street analysts, software engineers, among others – because they are known to be excellent problem solvers.

Jeff Wilson urged students to continue to build their networks as they go forward. This network can include everyone from the neighborhood folks you grew up with to college connections, friends, work colleagues and even family. Schmid College alum Marc Rosenfield asked about how to handle interview questions that highlight college graduates’ limited relevant work experience. Jeff’s advice? Answer their question in a way that says you will commit “your best self” and help the company succeed during your time with them.

Life Lessons

Pete Klimley: Don’t be afraid to show initiative – ask questions and let the faculty know your interests. This can lead to more opportunites down the road.

Kater Murch: Keep art in your life. It is an inherent part of science. Whether you see it in the work you are doing, or enjoy it as a break from you work, art keeps life in balance.

Jeff Wilson and Mike Brown: Find what drives you – that passion will keep you going when you are faced with challenges along the way. And most of all, TRAVEL!!