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This conference will prepare PhD students for careers beyond academia

After David Murison defended his PhD dissertation in the spring of 2017, he jumped into job-search mode.

“I was at a point where I was looking to be involved in anything and everything related to networking or how to help myself find a job,” said Murison, who graduated from Northeastern with a doctorate in chemistry.

Murison joined a working group through the university’s careers office to help doctoral students navigate the employment landscape. He learned how to strengthen his resumé and cover letter, how to use LinkedIn, and how other PhD students have handled the job-search process in the past.

Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Murison said that participating in the working group helped him “understand the climate of the job search.” He received tips for thinking like a hiring manager and making his resumé more well-rounded by including his presentation skills and mentoring experience.

Murison ultimately landed a job as a scientist at Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine manufacturer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he conducts research in vaccine discovery and development.

On Wednesday, Murison will return to Northeastern’s Boston campus to participate in a daylong conference to help PhD students prepare for careers outside of academia. He will lead a workshop titled “The Human Side of the Job Search.”

Space at the event, which is called the PhD Career Accelerator conference, is limited, and pre-registration is highly recommended. Attendees will learn how to prepare for the job search and how to develop skills that can be used to succeed in a variety of jobs and industries.

The conference will include talks, workshops, networking opportunities, and informational interviews with representatives from companies such as Google, Wayfair, Phillips, and Amazon. Attendees will also have the chance to receive feedback on their resumés and cover letters.

Northeastern is one of the only universities in the world to offer all PhD students experiential learning opportunities outside of their primary research group. Many PhD students work at labs, startups, and nonprofit institutions.

As a PhD student, Murison worked with associate professor Penny Beuning to study how cells respond to DNA damage and maintain the accuracy of genetic information. He said his work experience in Beuning’s lab helped him land his job at Sanofi.

“I could look at the type of work being done at Sanofi and readily draw comparisons from what I knew how to do,” he said.

Murison recommended Northeastern PhD students explore their experiential learning opportunities. As a scientist at Sanofi Pasteur, he said he can see how doctoral students could benefit from working in a lab in industry. “That experience is invaluable,” he said.

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