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Career advice: How academic scientists can land industry jobs

Academic researchers  need to learn the language of business and the art of communication if they are serious about landing industry jobs. But they shouldn’t forget to check that ego at the door either. That was just some of the career advice that Randall Ribaudo, co-founder, president and CEO of  Human Workflows LLC, provided to […]

Academic researchers  need to learn the language of business and the art of communication if they are serious about landing industry jobs.

But they shouldn’t forget to check that ego at the door either.

That was just some of the career advice that Randall Ribaudo, co-founder, president and CEO of  Human Workflows LLC, provided to an audience of University of Minnesota postdoctoral researchers and others Thursday. The daylong workshop was organized by the Postdoctoral Association at the University of Minnesota  and LifeScience Alley, a trade association representing the medical device and life sciences industry in Minnesota, to help researchers prepare for a career outside academia.

Ribaudo, has a Ph.D. in immunology and worked at Celera Genomics for five years before co-founding Human Workflows.

He noted that while most Ph.D. students envision a career in academia, they are confronted with a rude reality when looking for jobs: There aren’t that many academic jobs to go around.

In fact in 2003, only 19.8 percent of Ph.Ds. were in tenure or in tenure-track positions four to six years after getting their degrees, according to Science magazine.

So, current students need to develop certain skills that can translate well in the business world, too.

Ribaudo believes academics need to develop 24 core competencies, including strategic thinking, collaboration, delegation, production, emotional intelligence and managing the balance sheet, to successfully compete with other job seekers. At the workshop Thursday, students had the opportunity to do a skills assessment using Human Workflows’ software to see how their experience in academia matches up with those competencies.

I caught up with Ribaudo for a few minutes before the workshop began. Here’s the video: