Science Policy Opportunities For Early Career Scientists

Grant S. Hisao (Postdoctoral Research Associate, CaSP Member, Associate Editor for the Journal of Science Policy and Governance)

On May 3, 2019, CaSP held a career panel featuring four individuals who work in the areas of science policy and science communication. Each panelist shared their career path stories  with one panelist (Regina Vidaver) describing hers as a “long and winding road.” The panel highlighted a theme common with individuals seeking careers outside of the traditional tracks of academia or industry: the nature of finding a job is unregimented and, in some cases, luck plays a major role (i.e. being in the right place at the right time).

For many early career scientists seeking jobs outside academia, it may be aggravating to know that no straightforward path from grad school to a career exists. However, there are a number of actions and opportunities one can take advantage of as a student or postdoc that can lead to your dream career. Listed below is a brief summary of what one can do.

Honing Transferable Skills

A transferable skill is defined as any skill that is deemed useful to an employer across any job or sector. Researchers are skilled in a number of areas such as critical thinking, time management, and technical literacy, which is valuable to any employer. Furthermore, grad school provides an opportunity to develop other transferable skills such as mentorship, which can be gained by mentoring undergraduates, or conflict management – learning to deal with difficult situations with co-workers professionally.

Becoming a Member of the National Science Policy Network (NSPN)

Founded in 2017, the NSPN is an umbrella organization comprised of early career science policy groups located throughout the United States. The organization provides resources and professional development opportunities to its members and connects members to large network of science policy practitioners. CaSP is a proud member organization of NSPN and all dues paying members of CaSP automatically become individual members of NSPN.

Publishing in The Journal of Science Policy and Governance (JSPG)

JSPG is a peer reviewed, open-access journal that publishes on science policy topics. Established in 2011, the journal exclusively publishes materials written by students, recent graduates, and policy fellows. JSPG is a unique venue for early career scientists to publish documents such as policy memos, policy analyses, editorials, and white papers.

Doing a Fellowship or Internship

Fellowships and internships are a great opportunity for individuals to gain experience in an area of work without making a long term commitment, ranging in length from a couples months to a couple years. Listed below are a few opportunities specific to science policy and science communication. A full list of opportunities in the federal government can also be found here.

Short Term (2-3 months):

Long Term (1-2 years):

Panelists from May’s career panel. L-R: Taylor Nelms, Kelly Tyrrell, Amanda Hurley, Regina Vidaver, Victoria Sutton