Interview Questions

Dear Reader,
I had a job interview last friday. It was a presentation that was done online, with three of the executives of the company. This is a consulting company that is advertising for a PhD in Chemistry, Biology or Biochemistry. I do not consider consulting my favorite cup of tea but everyone needs to work. It will involve a lot of travel, which does not really excite me (nor my wife) and I went into the interview with a certain relaxed feeling. The presentation went smooth, it was mostly for them to see the i can efficiently and clearly explain complex technologies. I thought I did ok, at least enough to advance to the next step.
As a guidance, these were the questions that I was asked:
1. Why are you moving away from research and academia?
2. What kind of work do you think that this position requires?
3. What are the qualities that you think you have that are beneficial for this position?
4. General questions about my resume, such as why I left my previous job (since I left that job to join my current postdoc position, because of the prestige reputation of the university).
I also asked them several questions, just to get a feeling how I would feel about learning from these executives, how they interacted and to find out more about the work that I am expected to do. Also, i asked about the company’s 5-yr plan.
I thought the interview was really dry, no nitty gritty questions and honestly reminded my of hostage negations where neither party actually wanted to spook or frighten the other one.

Also, I am back on my meditation plan and what a difference. I can not even describe how much it is helping me. To thank them back, I will be helping the Ananda community as much as i can by volunteering. If you are stressed, try it out.

Also, the sequester (yes, I am talking about that thing you hear on Fox) is affecting myself badly as well as every scientist in the US. Just got an email from my funding agency stating that due to the sequester, they will not be able to pay out any funding until the issues are resolved. And at the same time, John Kerry gives Egypt $250M? Sorry but Disease > Egypt >Department of Defense airplane.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a good day/evening wherever you are…and whenever actually too.

Introverted Postdocs

Dear readers,
I think PhD students and most postdoctoral research are introverts, even if they are not outside of work, I think that our work forces us to be some kind of introvert types. We are struggling with our OWN project, we will have to find ways to do that by ourselves. This becomes more obvious when I watch students give their first talk in front of a group. Hell! my own first research meeting was horrible, I was not able to even speak clearly, throat was dry and I could feel the pearls of sweat on my forehead. Anyway, due to this we (introverts) do horrible at networking, its like pulling out my own teeth with a screwdriver. However, this is what I am doing to overcome this horrible problem:
1. Force yourself to talk to a stranger.
Hey, I am not saying that you should talk to the weird person at the train station! He smells for a reason. But try to have a chat about the weather, riding a bike to work etc. I have tried to do this every day for about a month and it works like a charm and has helped me in a lot of ways. For example, I talked to this guy this morning about the setup of the train car, why the seats were facing each other, since nobody wants to stare at someone else for the whole train ride. Sometimes people just say “aha” and I just leave it at that. Fair enough, don’t overdo it…then you are only a bad smell away from being that weird person at the train station.

2. Linkedin stalking.
Linkedin is interesting to me. Not because I think it works beautifully but it is a true test of curiosity. As a member, you can see who has looked at your profile within the last week. This is a good tool to get noticed. I have found all the recruiting people I talked to, all the hiring managers and looked at their profile. This will mean that a) they get my application and b) they will get a notification about someone looking at their linkedin profile at the same time. Voila, its that person!

3. Business cards!
I personally think that us postdocs in science are not taught well how to interact in the world. I remember going to this course dinner event and every MBA gave me his business card. Of course being from the other dimension, I thought: “What a douche!” But I see now how efficient that can be. I have just made up my own business card with my contact details and a QR code on the back with my vCard and linkedin profile. So if I get an informal interview, I am going to be sure to give that person my business card.

Bench is calling, gels need to be run.