#dailydeskwork Photo Journaling – Join Me!

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In honor of today, which marks the start of my 3rd month working from home as a writer and editor, I’m starting an Instagram and Twitter hashtag, #dailydeskwork. Every day this month, I’ll post a picture of my workspace using that hashtag, and I’d love for you to join me! No matter if you work from in an office, in a lab, from home, or on-the-go, post your best shot of your daily work environment from now until February 21st.

If you just want to follow along, you can subscribe to my Twitter and Instagram feeds, and search the hashtag #dailydeskwork to see others’ pictures!

Happy (and productive) Workday, everyone!

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Building a Professional Network: My experience thus far

If you’re a business-minded person, you might find this post a little basic, but learning to network has been one of my main focuses (and biggest challenges) since graduating at the end of November. This is a little post about my experience, and maybe it will inspire and bring hope to some other struggling scientist trying to find a career outside of academic research.

Networking is challenging, but ultimately worth your time.

In graduate school, I tried to prepare myself for leaving academic science from the moment I identified that my career goals pointed elsewhere. I went to all the free seminars, all the career development discussion panels, all the career fairs. I spoke with people whose jobs I admired and tried to get advice and information. I thought I was soooo prepared. I was not.

I applied for job after job, searching the online postings and having daily email alerts from various job boards clutter my inbox to the tune of 25 messages per day. I had an entire folder on my desktop devoted to resumes and cover letters, and I spent hours each day writing, re-writing, submitting, and agonizing over why I had yet to hear back. I got attached to certain job posts only to get an email saying that they decided to pass me over in favor of other candidates. After months of this, my scientist instinct told me, “Hey, this experiment is not working. This experiment will not work. You need to find another way to get your desired result.”

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Advocating Science: It’s Our Job

Every year during the holidays, scientists the world over are leaving their lab-caves and venturing out into the real world to interact with friends, family, and the general public. They’re lured away from experiments, grants, manuscripts by the promise of parties, food, and fun.

How will you share science this holiday season?

Inevitably, there comes the moment when they are asked by a non-scientist, “So, what exactly is it that you study?” *SCREEEEEECH* Stop. This is a crucial moment! Before you answer, consider the following three scenarios:

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5 Essential Grammar Tips for Scientists

I frequently edit scientific documents for colleagues and clients, and I tend to see a lot of the same grammatical errors repeated by all. Here’s a quick list of the top 10 most common mistakes, and how to correct them yourself!

5. utilize vs. use – Perhaps this could be filed under “style” rather than “grammar,” but it’s a mistake I will always correct in a document that I’m editing. A scientist should always strive to use the most simple language possible, in order to dazzle your reader with data instead of distracting them with fancy vocabulary.

We utilized a high-throughput approach to identify candidate genes.

We utilized used a high-throughput approach to identify candidate genes.

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light at the end of the tunnel

Today was special. Not in the big, let’s-have-a-party-special kind of way, but in the quietly special, reward yourself with a pat-on-the-back kind of way.

I felt like I’d been working for-EV-er on my thesis project. Planning, hours upon hours at the bench, and finally, making and adjusting each tiny figure and crafting each word in the 100+ page document that became my thesis.

Yes, today, I finished my thesis. The jury’s still out, so to speak, on how successful this writing attempt has been, but in three weeks I will receive my readers’ comments, and then I’ll be ready to submit.

Even though it seems like there are still so many little steps between where I am today and walking out of Johns Hopkins for the last time, I feel like I’ve already taken so many thousands of steps to get where I am today. Today, I’m going to pause and appreciate the little special joy that comes from reflecting on how far I’ve come from where I started.