Tufts University Postdocs Can Now Access the VersatilePhD!

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Interested in exploring non-academic career options? 

Versatile PhD is the oldest, largest online community dedicated to non-academic and non-faculty careers for PhDs in humanities, social science and STEM. Join over 70,000 other members in learning about options for those in (and out) of graduate school!

VPhD helps graduate students identify, prepare for, and excel in possible non-academic careers. The site includes content for humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields. You’ll have access to the career finder as well as real-life examples of Ph.Ds, ABDs and MAs who pursued non-academic careers. You’ll get their stories, advice, inside information about their fields, and even the actual resumes and cover letters they used to get their first non-academic jobs. You also get access to the community discussion forums, a member directory listing thousands of PhDs working across the United States, job listings, and great information about a wide variety of possible careers.

Log into Jumbo Jobs, then click on “Resource Library” and click on the Versatile PhD link to access this resource. 

Stay tuned for a seminar on using the VersatilePhD in your career development!

Login in using “postdoc” as your login and “guest” as your password.

Click on resource links.

Navigate to the VersatilePhD to register your email.
Register using any email address.
Activate your account by checking your email.

Check out the forums and ask questions of the great online community!


Postdoc Appreciation Week: Financial Planning with Fidelity Investments

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We were joined by Dan Shea from Fidelity Investments to learn more about budgeting and financial planning!

Financial planning with Fidelity Investments

Topics to be discussed:

  • Track your expenses.
  • Know what is a discretionary vs essential spending.
  • Monitor your spending behavior.
  • Tough to save if you don’t know what you’re saving for!!
Essential expenses:
  • Mortgage
  • Food
  • Health care
Examples of discretionary expenses:
  • Travel
  • Cable TV
Make paying high-interest credit cards a priority:
  • If you have credit cards with an 8-9% interest rate it’s bad, so try to pay them as soon as possible.
  • Create a budget.
  • Avoid getting a high interest now because it compounds – you end up paying more in the future.
  • If you have more than one credit card with a high-interest rate, you can consolidate them but then make sure they get paid during the timeline that was determined for it.
  • Example: if you have a credit card with a 10% interest rate versus a card with a 15% interest rate then pay the one with the 15% interest rate first!
  • Key to your credit report is how long you’ve had your credit cards.
How much to use the credit card?
  • Doesn’t matter how much you use the credit card, as long as you pay them. Try to pay them off each month.
  • Use only 16% of what’s available of your credit. For example: if you have a $10,000 dollar credit you don’t want to have more than $1,600 in balance.
  • Too many cards could hurt your credit.
  • Monitor your savings! 
  • “Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” – particularly important with investments.
    • Good tools:
      •  In the Fidelity Investments website to keep track of your accounts (free to set up!) – you can buy stocks through that tool.
      • Google Wallet
      • Some other tools charge $20/month to use.
How to create and manage your budget:
  • Money for essentials, unplanned emergencies and goals.
  • 50% of your take home income should go to essential spending.
Essential spending:
  • ~50% of take-home pay.
Essential savings:
  • Save 15% of pre-tax (not take-home) income.
  • Lowers your taxable income. The younger you are and the lower your bracket is, the more sense it makes to have a Roth-IRA.
Short-term savings:
  • Save 5% of your income.
Emergency funds:
  • “Because the unexpected happens”.
  • Should save 3-6 months of essential expenses!
  • Maybe start a separate bank of money account and put in a certain amount every month ($20 or so) after you’ve paid your bad debt and covered your essential expenses.
  • Start saving for retirement as soon as possible! Up to 8% pre-tax income every month.
  • You don’t want to compromise your retirement savings. Compounding is key!
  • 403(b) retirement plan – can you merge your 403(b) from your old institution into a new one like Tufts? Yes (Rollover)!
  • If you take out a loan on your retirement plan, you have to pay taxes on it.
Mutual funds versus stocks

  • Fidelity Investments is in campus twice a month on campus. 
    • October is booked, but for after October is cool – financial advice for free!!
**Pay off high debt first!**
  • Paying debt in full saves you a lot of interest.
  • The benefit of paying your debt:
    • The higher your FICO score the lower your APR is.
Credit score:
  • Student loans can actually help your score, but whether you’re good at making payments to your loan every month is what influences your standing.
Know what you’re spending on and distinguish between good debt versus bad debt.
  • Good debt: i.e. mortgage
  • Bad debt: credit cards
If making $65,000 or less, we can write down the student loan debt for tax breaks?

  • Housing payment should be no more than 28% of your gross income.
  • The City of Boston offers a class on home owning for $25.
The order on how to use your money:
  1. Saving for emergency expenses
  2. Saving for retirement
  3. Pay/pay-off high-interest cards
  4. Pay student loans

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Speed Networking & Career Panel

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Learn about PhDs and Tufts alum that have successfully transitioned into careers in Industry! 

In attendance: 

Antoine Boudot – in vitro Cancer Biologist at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (former postdoc at Tufts)
April Blodgett – Sales and bioconsulting at PerkinElmer
Anh Hoang – Co-founder / CSO at Sofregen Medical
Michael Mattoni – Senior patent agent at Mintz Levin
Travis D’Cruz – Licensing associate at Tufts University
Michael Doire – Department manager – Biology at Tufts University
Angela Kaczmarczyk – Scientist / Founder of BosLabs
Nina Dudnik – Scientist / Founder and CEO of Seeding Labs
What drove your career path away from academia?
April: A lot of work and little pay.
Antoine: Too many postdocs in the Boston/Cambridge area that also want to do the same as you do.
Travis: Going through the motions and seeing his PIs on their offices for so long, writing grants and not doing actual science.
Nina: Never wanted to be an academic. What she cared most about was not about the details of the experiment but to explain/communicate to others why the science matters.

What do you do to step away from the academic path? What research did you do to prepare yourself to move out of academia?

  • He works at the bench everyday as he used to do as a postdoc, but he enjoys not having to worry about funding and getting materials/reagents. 
  • Set up a LinkedIn account and realized it was about building connections. He also went to networking events and started making connections within Merrimack. So start making connections now!
  • Make connections now. Do not expect to connect with people now and then ask for help or a job the following day. Having a vaccine background helped her (microbiologist by training). 
  • She loves the speed/demands of her job. She felt like making a change after several years and she likes doing sales, so she made the move and started thinking about previous experiences that translate to sales so that she could use them to get the job.
  • After publishing in a high impact journal paper, nothing happens. What was conflicting for her was that all that work led to a high impact journal paper would not progress much beyond that. Thus, she wanted to do something about it and started a company.
  • She came from a large, well-funded research group, so she says she had resources. She also did studies toward a MBA. Postdoc’d at day and hustled at night.
  • Her postdoc did not prepare her for any of this! The learning curve was very steep. When starting a company you do wear 5 hats 40 hours a week. The postdoc prepared her for the science part (to sell the idea to investors), but not the business side of it. She didn’t know how to incorporate a company, how to pay her employees, how to provide them with benefits… People management is a whole different subject to deal with when setting up a company.
Michael M.:
  • Realized didn’t want to do research 3 or so years into the PhD, but he pushed through. He went to the tech transfer office and asked if they had an intern position. He now wears 3 hats at his job.
  • No need to be an attorney to become a patent agent.
  • Soft skills from the postdoc to apply for a job: the dealing with people, wearing twelve different hats.
  • Sought out what other options are there. He found other postdocs who started a small consulting group and he joined them. That helped him stand out among a pool of job applicants when he finished his postdoc. Think outside the box!
Skills that you gained during your postdoc?

Michael D.
  • Took a different path: he did graduate school in molecular biology but as he progressed through grad school he realized that he didn’t want to necessarily do that. 
  • Skills: Learning does not often solely happen in the class room. You learn valuable skills at your work place. Rarely the person who knows more in the lab is not the PI (not in terms of the everyday requirements). It’s usually the lab manager/technician.
  • He looks for people with passion and knowledge. Doesn’t care about people coming from top schools alone.
Michael M.:
  • A major skill is to ask the right questions! In his case: what does a specific sector need? How can he become an asset to their organization? Utility-centered approach. Take initiative. Know where you want to go. Be honest to yourself about not knowing. Get it out of your system.
Michael D.:
  • Much easier to teach PhDs about management than management people learning how to do science!
What to do when you already know what you want?

  • Started by writing for the student magazine at Berkeley. Went to a bio-hacking talk and was intrigued by it. Moved to Boston and acquired teaching experience at Harvard, then found out about space open to do science at Somerville. Science classes open to all backgrounds (a lot of them are engineers interested in learning biotechnology!)
  • Events during the weekends and a forum this Monday 9/26/16 at LabCentral.
  • She is also a visiting scientist at the Broad Institute.
  • In the future she wants to do the community lab (BosLabs) full-time.
  • She thinks the biggest problems in the world can be addressed by science. Knew she wanted to be a geneticist when she was 13 (wanted to feed the world).
  • Incredible compulsion to solve problems. 
  • When in Harvard she realized that many labs had a surplus of or were wasting equipment that could be used further, so she started Seeding Labs 5 years even before she officially started Seeding Labs.
  • Got funding for Seeding Labs even before she started writing her thesis.
  • Started doing networking events and met people that helped her learn about finances and management.
  • She had to learn about 7 different languages she would not have learned when in academia to run the labs.
Michael M.:
  • You will never be prepared for the next step! You make it as you go along.

Future of Research Seminar

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We were joined by Gary McDowell, Executive Director of Future of Research (and the second Tufts PDA president!) who discussed what The Future of Research is and the changing landscape of research and postdoctoral issues, including the FLSA act. 

-Future of Research was formed after a desire to contribute the thoughts of junior researchers on the state of research and how to better sustain research in the future.
– Came out of the fledgling Boston Postdoctoral Association
– 1st FoR, which took place in 2014, was a collaborative discussion effort

1. Junior scientists should be better connected together between the different experience and location levels
2. More funding opportunities for scientists and better advocacy for increased conditions, salary etc.
3. Transparency: better clarity on the career outcomes and options for postdocs. Where do people go? Transparency on salaries and benefits at each individual institution.

Mission: To represent junior scientists, through grassroots advocacy, to promote systemic change to the way we do science.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and postdoc salaries:
FLSA: guarantee of a minimum wage and overtime pay within a 40 hr workweek.

July 6 2015: Minimum exemption salary (for no overtime) was $23,660 – proposal of new FLSA act was to increase this to $50,440 with updates every 3 years.

May 18 2016: Exemption salary set as $47,476 with implementation date as Dec 1, 2016.

How postdocs fit in:
– Many Higher Ed institutions (such as CUPA-HR and AAMC) pushed for postdocs to be exempt from the new standards and suggested lower salary caps.
– Postdocs pushed back via individual submissions, group letters coordinated by postdoc groups and by unions representing postdocs.

The Outcome: Postdocs were NOT exempt and were explicitly included in the act. The only exemption was where the primary role of the postdoc is teaching. All international postdocs, regardless of status, visa or funding source are included. Adjuncts are not included and are exempt.

Some higher ed institutions have lobbied to have the decision reversed, however it is unlikely this will occur.

So what does this mean?

– To raise salaries or track hours?
– Consensus view within the community is to increase salaries to $50,000 minimum which should be adjusted to inflation and regional living costs.
– NRSA levels:

– 51% of institutions set their minimum with the NIH
– 7% of institutions do not enforce their minimum
– 11% of institutions do not have a set minimum.

Over 50% of salaries will be affected … whether people will actually see their salaries increased or they will be let go… time will tell.

Why Gary thinks no-one will track hours:

1. The burden of proof in violating the overtime ruling is on the institution, thus it is easy for he employee to win.
2. The administrative burden to track the  hours will further stress administrators who have high workloads.

Other notes:
Postdocs are federally recognized as both employees and trainees.
Thus, they are not just cheap temporary staff scientists and experiments, writing papers, reading papers, career development, activities, conferences and even outreach (tweeting!) are all activities that fall under the job description of a postdoc.

What will be the effects?

– Smaller institutions more affected?
– Dip in new hires as y0/1 postdocs will be more expensive?
– Will junior faculty bear the brunt?
– Postdocs let go?
– Shift postdocs to NRSA/training fellowships then from research grants?
– More grad students? Someone has to do the work…
 – Will there be fewer postdocs? This may be a good thing… 

[Job Listings] Associate Project Manager opening at Bracket Global

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[Job Listings] Associate Project Manager opening at Bracket Global

Check out this job posting from our friends at Bracket (formerly Clintara). Great for people who love project management and data analysis!

Position Overview:

Responsible for development and management of projects at assigned pharmaceutical clients.  The projects will include clinical data quality services (e.g. Rater training, subject eligibility, ratings quality assurance, endpoint reliability, scale management, etc.) for said pharmaceutical clients. 
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
Project Management (50%)
·       Manage all phases of each assigned project, including budget, invoicing, staffing, project plan and client deliverables
·       Manage multiple projects concurrently, maintaining project schedule and quality deliverables in a dynamic environment
·       Coordinate with other Client Services personnel as well as Professional Services and Technical Delivery resources to ensure the timely and quality preparation of project deliverables based on assigned scope-of-services
·       Oversee development and approval of study materials
·       Manage team of Project Specialists and/or Project Assistants to facilitate project tasks
·       Ensure all project deliverables are of high quality and exceed client’s expectations in compliance with Quality Management governance procedures
·       Oversee study management and coordinate study status with project sponsors
·       Manage resources and tasks to ensure all logistics, materials and technologies necessary as defined by scope-of-services
·       Coordinate with project sponsors to ensure all project expectations are met
Data/Site Management (30%)
·       Manage identification and resolution of clinical trial data inquiries/data changes and communication to internal and external multi-function resources within project teams
·       Manage communications with client (e.g. pharmaceutical sponsor, CRO) and site personnel regarding site/study details
·       Facilitate data review meetings with clinical trial study team leaders
·       Own in-study/maintenance transactional project activities throughout entire project lifecycle, e.g.  project variable fees, inter-department workflow assignment, issue escalation
·       Set up master systems, additional study hardware, study site folders, and data folders for clinical trial execution
·       Design and configure unique project systems and manage data for each assigned project, utilizing proprietary IT applications (e.g. RDA, IR2, CDR PRISM, etc.)
·       Produce data reports (e.g., weekly, interim, final, etc.) for submission to pharmaceutical clients
·       Attend and deliver presentations at both site and client facing meetings
Account Management (10%)
·       Communicate new opportunities, as identified, at existing clients for Bracket  encompassing Change Orders and new projects
·       Facilitate new  Change Order creation and socialization for assigned projects in cooperation with Business Development Operations
·       Manage relationships within assigned client accounts including routine written, telephone and face-to-face communication
·       Provide account updates to Bracket account management teams
Administration (10%)
·       Provide ongoing career development, mentoring and performance feedback for supervised Project Specialists and/or Project Assistants
·       Track monthly and quarterly metrics (variable fee budgetary items) and provide to Project Manager for invoicing
·       Enhance the Bracket business model by institutionalizing business processes, implementing best practices and templates, and seeking ways to work more efficiently
·       Contribute to the development, enhancement and testing for enterprise IT applications
·       Coach, counsel and provide mentoring and guidance for direct reports
·        Three to five years of professional experience
·       One to two years of project management experience
Skills & Competencies
·        Experience with managing work plans, project budgets, invoicing, resource allocation and deliverable management
·        College degree (B.S., B.A.)/University Degree for EU candidates required
·         Demonstrated analytical, organizational, creative problem solving and structured communication skills
·         Strong client and vendor relationship skills
·         Demonstrated experience in career development and team management
·         Ability to travel for business
·         Ability to work nights or weekends as required
·         Demonstrated proficiency with computers, especially Microsoft Office (Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Access)
·         Fluency in English (will be required to write, speak and understand English to conduct day-to day business)
·         Ability to manage own time proactively identify prioritized tasks
·         Entrepreneurial spirit, drive and work ethic
·         Focus on attention to detail
·         Professional experience within the pharmaceutical industry.  Training and/or education background valued.
We offer a fully comprehensive benefits program with medical, dental, vision, company paid life insurance, short and long term disability.  Great Paid Time Off program that starts with 20 days of accrual per calendar year; great 401k plan with company match that is 100% vested immediately!  Paid parental leave and other competitive benefit programs.  Great salary and reward and recognition programs. 
EEO Minorities/Women/Veterans/Disabled

Postdoc Appreciation Week: Speed Networking & Career Panel

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Speed Networking & Career Panel

Come and meet a variety of PhDs and Tufts alums that have successful careers in Industry! Ask questions and network with those who have successfully made the transition out of Academia!

Tuesday, September 20th
5:30-7:30 PM
Sackler 114
145 Harrison Avenue, Boston MA

Mentoring Resource: Resources for Academics

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Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty, Second Edition 
Based on workshops co-sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and HHMI, this book is a collection of practical advice and experiences from seasoned biomedical investigators and includes chapters on laboratory leadership, getting funded, project management, and teaching and course design.

Chapter 1: Obtaining and Negotiating a Faculty Position

  • The Job Search
  • The Job Application
  • The Job Interview
  • Negotiating Your Position
  • Resources

Chapter 2: Understanding University Structure and Planning for Tenure

  • Organization of a “Typical” University
  • Organization of a “Typical” Academic Health Center
  • People You Should Get to Know
  • Faculty Governing Bodies and Committees
  • Support Facilities and Services
  • Responsibilities Beyond the Laboratory
  • The Scientific Investigator and the Outside World
  • Planning for Promotion and Tenure
  • Resources

Chapter 3: Laboratory Leadership in Science

  • Your Role as a Laboratory Leader
  • Creating Your Vision as a Leader
  • Developing Your Leadership Style
  • Building and Sustaining an Effective Team
  • Resources
  • Appendix 1: The Four Preferences That Make Up Your Personality Type
  • Appendix 2: Performance Review Form
  • Appendix 3: Performance Feedback Checklist for Managers

Chapter 4: Staffing Your Laboratory

  • Getting Started
  • Recruiting Applicants
  • Screening Applicants
  • Interviewing Applicants
  • Evaluating Applicants
  • Making the Offer
  • Asking Staff to Leave
  • Resources
  • Appendix: Telephone Interview Outline

Chapter 6: Time Management

  • Strategies for Planning Your Activities
  • Managing Your Time Day to Day
  • Special Issues
  • Resources

Chapter 7: Project Management

  • What is Project Management?
  • Getting Started
  • Tracking the Work and the Resources
  • Project Management Software
  • Controlling the Project
  • Resources
  • Appendix: Project Management—A Real-life Example

Chapter 8: Data Management and Laboratory Notebooks

  • Day-to-Day Record Keeping: The Laboratory Notebook
  • Tracking and Storing Information
  • Finding the Right Data Management System for You
  • Resources

Chapter 9: Getting Funded

  • Understanding the NIH Funding Process
  • Preparing a Strong Grant Application
  • A Bit About Budgets
  • Submitting Your Application
  • The National Science Foundation
  • Resources

Chapter 10: Getting Published and Increasing Your Visibility

  • A Brief Overview of Scientific Publishing
  • Planning for Publication
  • Getting Your Paper Published
  • Increasing Your Visibility
  • Resources

Chapter 11: Understanding Technology Transfer

  • University Technology Transfer Offices
  • The Technology Transfer Process
  • The Legal Terms and Agreements
  • Sponsorship and Consultation
  • Conflicts of Commitment and Interest
  • Resources

Chapter 12: Setting Up Collaborations

  • The Varieties of Collaborations
  • Should You Collaborate
  • Setting Up a Collaboration
  • The Ingredients of a Successful Collaboration
  • Special Challenges for the Beginning Investigator
  • International Collaborations
  • When a Collaboration is Not Working
  • Resources

Chapter 13: Teaching and Course Design

  • Why Teach Well
  • Becoming an Effective Teacher
  • Planning to Teach a Course
  • The Principles of Active Learning
  • Active Learning at a Medical School
  • Assessing Student Learning
  • Course Design
  • Teaching Others to Teach
  • Professional Considerations
  • Resources
  • Appendix 1: Examples of Active Assessments for Large Lectures
  • Appendix 2: Bloom’s Taxonomy

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