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On Thursday, August 21 I participated in a Twitter Chat #ECRChat hosted by Science Mentor. When I found out that Science Mentor would be hosting the chat I knew it would be informative because she has many resources on her blog. Check out her post about Self-Mentoring and using the myIDPtool.

Thursday’s #ECRChat topic was about How to Develop a Career Exit Strategy. A Career exit strategy is a short-term plan (1-2 years) to maintain professional life during a career transition. If you want to find out more information check out Science Mentor’s career exit strategy post. Last year I shared my experience using the myIDP tool. Using this tool helped me get a better idea of what I need to do to get in the career I want.

If you are new to my blog I am a toxicologist and I want to become a vaccinologist, specifically developing malaria and dengue vaccines. I have thought about this career for a long time. Now, that you know a bit more about me let’s get started with my reflection of the #ECRChat hosted by Science Mentor:

Main Points from the How to Develop a Career Exit Strategy #ECRChat Hosted by Science Mentor:

1. Think First: Before developing a career exit strategy sit down and really think about why you need a career exit strategy. This is a serious career decision. Are you ready for this transition? Why do you want a career exit strategy? Some people have career exit strategies due to funding issus, want to explore a new career or are not happy with their career environment.

2. Focus on What you Want: What are goals do you want to achieve in your new career? This is important because you want to make sure that the next job (in your new career) is going to match your new goals. Don’t take a new job for the sake of having a new job if it doesn’t align with your career goals.

3. Do a Self-Assessment: I recommend doing self-assessments on a regular basis. A good place to start is using the myIDP tool. This will help you create a timeline, a to-do-list and keep you on top of your new career goals. When I used the myIDP tool I spent a few weeks on it. Take your time.

4. Keep Learning: Think about your transferable skills and gain the skills you need for your new career. For example, in order to transition from toxicology into a vaccine research career I knew that I needed to learn more about vaccines, virology, and infectious diseases. In order to learn more I registered for some related courses on Coursera.org. One of my favorite courses was a virology course by Dr. Vincent Racaniello. This fall I am taking an Immunology course. Also, read books about careers and leadership to help you with your new career. If you are looking for some book ideas check out my summer reading list and my useful books list.

5. Keep up with your Professional Activities: One of the ways you can make this transition as smooth as possible is by keeping up with your professional activities. Nowadays you can find many free professional leadership courses online. Take leadership positions, mentor, volunteer or start blogging. Blogging has allowed me to create a virtual space to share my experience to help other women in science. The science blogging community is great!

*The Main Takeaway: Always be prepared for career transition, stay focused and keep moving forward! It is okay if you want your career exit strategy to be confidential. Sometimes people may even try to sabotage your career exit strategy and you don’t want negativity in your space during this transitional time.

Some Side Notes:

If you want to see other reflections, check out my reflection about science policy careers with NSBE and #AAWiSTEM I did in April check out my Career Corner: NSBE & AWIS Mashup Post.

On Twitter Chats:

Twitter chats are a great way to chat with members of the science community from all over the world.  One of my goals is to get better at participating in twitter chats. If you have a twitter chat you want me to participate in tweet me: @MademoiselleSci. I promise to get better at Twitter chats. Leave the Hashtag in the comments below.

Here are some of the twitter chats I have participated in:


Check out:

Why Academics Use Twitter:

Check out PhD Comics and the Nature Article about Online Collaboration Scientist and the Social Network:

Thank you again Science Mentor for hosting the #ECRChat. Here’s to more twitter chat participation!