Author: Burcu Anil Kirrmizitas
On April 10 2017, we had our awards ceremony for the SIU-Naturejobs writing competition. Naturejobs blog editor Jack Leeming joined us in Oxford to announce the winners of the competition and held a roundtable discussion on alternative careers with our audience. Jack received many questions about his career and how he became a Naturejobs editor. He received a Master's degree in chemistry from the University of Hull and went straight into his role as an editor. He told us he always liked writing and is good at it too so he carried on with the job. As many scientists know, the Naturejobs blog runs pieces written by scientists about their experiences in many different sectors they work in. Jack runs the blog but that is not his only duty. He also works collaboratively with the other branches of Nature Publishing Group and organises content to be published with them. Going into the specifics of his job, Jack explained what the skills he needs to keep polished are. The keys to be successful at an editorial job like his are to be good at writing and following current trends - not only in the area you publish in but also in practical aspects such as social media. As an example he told us how he has to organise the tweets about the blog posts and has to use a computerised system for it because he has so many things to tweet about, while making sure he's reaching his target audience.
Jack was also asked about the general trends in job openings for scientists. He thinks there is an increasing need for data scientists and data journalists now. A data journalist is someone who gets given large amounts of data and writes about it after making sense of it. So it's analysis of the data to some extent followed by explaining it in a way that a wide range of people will be able to easily understand.
Jack also told us that the science job market in China is rapidly expanding and it would be a good idea to learn Chinese if you are looking into the option of working abroad. Some European countries such as Germany currently have many openings for scientists as well.
The conversation then inevitably steered towards Brexit. Jack told us that the uncertainty attached to it presents itself in the job market as well. It's still -even today, the day after the election- too early to tell how scientists and their career prospects are going to be affected in academia, industry and elsewhere.
At the end of the roundtable discussion with the attendees, Jack announced the winners. The runner-up was Idil Cazimoglu with her piece on the risks and benefits of working for a start-up after academia. Click here to read her thoughts on the issue. The winner was George Busby with his piece titled "Meditation on A Caltrain". In his article, George talked about his search for a job in the Silicon Valley and all the repercussions of working in academia with the added challenges of living in Oxford as a scientist. Both George and Idil are regular contributors to the SIU blog and we, as the SIU team, were very proud of them. Our two writers won a free print subscription to Nature in addition to getting their pieces published in the Naturejobs blog.
The event concluded with a drinks reception where we talked more about the prospects for scientists, Jack's plans for writing a book and future collaborations between SIU and Naturejobs. It was a very insightful evening and we thank Jack Leeming once again for this fun and fruitful collaboration!