Prepare, practise, perform!

To be good at something – you need to practise. This counts for everything, also networking and pitching yourself. Career Service at Karolinska Institutet arranges regularly mingles for companies and organisations as part of the two internship programmes they offer, one for PhD students, and one for postdocs and early career researchers.

12 companies and organisations had representatives at the mingle last Wednesday (Oct. 4) and more than 150 students, PhD students and researchers took the opportunity to network. An internship project within data analysis, literature studies or consulting could be a perfect match for someone with research skills! Professional skills that are obtained inside academia work very well outside academia as well, however they need to be presented differently. Researchers have the “hard” skills, but often need to practise the “soft” skills such as being able to present oneself and one’s strengths in a few sentences. Sticking out with clever questions could pay off in the end, so it is always good to do some research before a networking event to be well prepared. The doctoral course “Career Skills for Scientists” run by Career Service, focuses a lot on the transferable skills. The application opens 15 October for the spring ’17 intake. In Career Service curriculum you will find more events for practising “soft skills”, or rather “professional skills” as some foresighted experts in an international career panel recently preferred to call them, as they are in many ways necessary for a professional career.

Two employers that have participated in the internship programmes before, Omega Pharma Nordic (previous ACO Hud Nordic) and Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) feel that this is rewarding in many ways both for participants and them as companies. I took the opportunity to talk to their representatives at the mingle. Vetenskapsrådet (VR) was represented by a current senior postdoctoral researcher from Karolinska Institutet, Shawon Lahiri, just in the midst of her own internship experience. She was selected for a project by VR in the spring intake this year. She is very enthusiastic over the opportunity to get experience outside academia and to widen her perspective on the actual responsibility that comes with research. The new intern VR is looking for will continue the current project with preparing the implementation of a database for reviewers and also be involved in data analysis of antimicrobial resistance research. Omega Pharma Nordic’s (OPN) representative, Tina Holm (also a KI alumna), offers a project working on a review article. “A skilled person who can focus 100% on the work will get the job done”, she says. It is a winwin for both OPN and the intern. Part of the project will also involve attending meetings and  working in the product development lab as the actual project is with the Innovation group. The two previous interns took the opportunity to meet with people from other units to widen their network and get the most out of the internship.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet – it is all about networking and the opportunities are around the corner…and the more you practice the better you get at it! Prepare, practice and perform!

Emma Hägg/Career Service

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