Career Seminars 2015

Seminar 01 Slides - Seminar 02 Slides - Seminar 03 Slides

First Session: 2015-01-20

Andrew Green ( works at the UC Career Center, where he is one of two staff members dedicated to graduate students. He does one-on-one appointments to discuss anything career-related, and his interest and dedication are obvious (“I work for you!”). He encourages students to talk to him before they start a job search, when they’re still in the ‘intelligence gathering’ stage (the topic of this session).

Andrew uses a concentric spheres analogy to describe the career landscape for advanced degree-holders:

“In your first job, do you want to use the same tools that you did in graduate school? Do you want to use the same approaches? Do you want to work on the same problems?”

The innermost sphere represents jobs that keep you very, very close to what you did in graduate school, while the spheres outside that are more distant and make increasingly general use of your grad school knowledge and training. Example jobs in these spheres, from closest to furthest:

Postdoc → National Lab → Company R&D → Data Science → Problem Solving

The probability that your Berkeley Chemical Engineering degree will make you an immediate, obvious fit for a position decreases as you move outwards.

In the intelligence-gathering stage of your job hunt, you’ll focus more on deciding what types of jobs you’ll apply to than on specific positions at specific companies. A great resource for inventorying your interests and abilities and identifying potential careers is the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Individual Development Plan (IDP): There are many inventories out there (Strong Interest Inventory, StrengthFinders), but this one is specfically designed for graduate students in technical fields. Fill it out and see what it suggests!

Andrew emphasized the importance of having a rationale for interviewing for a job, especially when that job is a couple spheres out and a Berkeley engineering PhD isn’t an obvious best-fit. Hiring and training is expensive, and recruiters want to hear that you've thought this through!

Toward developing this rationale, check out the Article Search on All of these career-related articles have been written by technical advanced degree-holders, so it’s a great way to learn what you might do in industrial polymer physics or what data science is all about.

MCB 295 is a career seminar series on Tuesdays, 6-8PM. You can go even if you’re not signed up for the course. Andrew strongly recommended it! You can find this and previous semesters’ seminar schedules here: (not yet updated for 2015). For data–, computer science–, and information technology–related jobs, check out the EECS infosession schedule—there’s a session almost every day in February!

Want to read more about what a particular job description is about? Check out the Vault Guides written by advanced degree-holders actually doing the job, accessible through a Berkeley subscription:

Other resources available through the career center:

Additional resources mentioned in passing:

LinkedIn will be discussed more extensively in the next session, but the strategy is straightforward: join alumni groups, find people who are doing what you’re interested in doing, and ask them how they transitioned from the (completely irrelevant) thing they did in grad school! Most will be very happy to tell their story… and now that many companies rely heavily on internal referrals and reward successful referrers with thousands of dollars, they may be financially incentivized to talk to an interested Berkeley PhD student!

LinkedIn: Cal Alumni Association (45,000 members)

LinkedIn: UC Berkeley Alumni (8,300 members)

LinkedIn: UC Berkeley Alumni Group (5,300 members)

LinkedIn: UC Berkeley College of Chemistry Alumni (1,300 members)

LinkedIn: UC Berkeley Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering PhD Students and Alumni (250 members)

Join your undergraduate alumni groups too!

Fun fact: the median age of a postdoc is 32.

Happy searching!

Second Session: 2015-01-27

Third Session: 2015-02-03