Developing Leadership and Business Skills for Scientists: SciPhD Virtual Workshop 2021 – Part 2

  • January 25, 2021
iJOBS Blog

Written by Shawn Rumrill

Day 3 – Developing your people

Welcome back to part 2 of the Rutgers iJOBS SciPhD Leadership and Business Skills for Scientists workshop! If you missed part 1 you can check it out here. Over 20 hours and across 5 days, this program challenged participants to develop soft skills that complement and enhance their technical abilities, enabling them to effectively land industry-focused jobs after their PhD. Part 1 of the workshop was about building and identifying your skills to construct a targeted resume and how you can land an interview. This was followed by a session on skills to help you nail the interview. Part 2 focuses on more soft skills that will help you be the most effective in getting your dream job. Continue reading to learn how the SciPhD workshop helped attendees to develop strong interpersonal communication skills, network, build business and project management skills, and negotiate.  

Arguably, the best way to be productive and effective is to establish productivity and efficiency in your team while encouraging their own success, which in turn helps you to become successful in the workplace. But how do we become both good leaders and simultaneously good team members? Kicking off the first session of the SciPhD workshop part 2 was SciPhD co-founder Larry Petcovic, who introduced what they’ve identified as 3 key components to interacting with other’s and how this impacts their desire to work. 

The first of these is mastery or the idea of becoming an expert. People are motivated to work by a desire to themselves become better or the expert, so leaders should promote this. Instilling a sense of pride in someone often makes them more receptive to input and careful about their own work. In turn, this also provides opportunities for individuals to become their own expert and mentor others, which is rewarding.

The next key component in interacting with others is the concept of autonomy. Mr. Petcovic notes that, to some extent, everyone likes to be self-directed. Just as we all would rather choose what we have for lunch and decide when we want to start tackling a project in academia, this concept translates to industry and professional careers as well. A sense of autonomy can also provide confidence, which may help individuals do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. Finally, allowing people autonomy in their work also allows for them to be successful and promotes a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Last but not least, the third component is a sense of purpose. This is the big why question that we each undoubtedly ask ourselves many times a day. Why am I doing this experiment? Why am I pursuing a PhD? Why am I interested in contributing to this field of science? Fortunately, there are many answers to this question, and each is different from the next. Often, people are driven by a team focus, a common vision in outcomes, or just by a need for productivity. No matter the reason, a sense of purpose is an important driver in determining a person’s drive to work and do their job well. On this note, mastery, autonomy, and purpose, are important factors that leaders and team members alike should promote within each other whenever they interact to help drive productivity, efficiency, and a sense of happiness in the workplace. 

It is important to promote various aspects of people’s desire to work when developing your team and relationships, but even more so on an individual basis. The workshop next focused on how individuals develop mastery in their work. Mastery was conceptualized as 4 defined phases of competency. 

  • Unconscious incompetence: not knowing what you don’t know
  • Conscious incompetence: knowing what you don’t know
  • Conscious competence: you know how to do a task but it takes effort
  • Unconscious competence: you know how to do a task well

Everyone strives for the level of unconscious competence, but getting there is a process, and when working with team you need to be able to recognize what level of competence each individual has. In summary, Mr. Petcovic notes that we can think about the principles of mastery, autonomy, and purpose that make for better performance and satisfaction at work. We can learn to recognize levels of competency in individuals. With some intuition of their personality type (think Myers-Briggs standards) you can foster growth in your team individualistically and in this way become a master at developing your people.

SciPhD highlighted great ways to learn how to work alongside your team, but how can you leverage the power of a larger community with some of the same skills? This is what the SciPhD workshop calls building your network. An important question to ask yourself is: why should I network? Some answers to this question include, you want to be the first to find a job or get your resume to hiring managers. Furthermore, you may want to keep in touch with anyone who may be of value to you and provide a pipeline for opportunities in the future. Networking is crucial to professional success. How you  network successfully, especially in the COVID era, can sometimes be a difficult task.

Building a network is all about making connections that will somehow allow you to stand out, get your resume on the hiring managers desk, and be made aware of opportunities available to you.

SchiPhD suggested to build your network by categorizing contacts into groups including people in your current job position, people in your previous job position, social contacts, and alumnae networks. However, the people you put on these lists should be returning your calls, replying to your emails, or taking you up on an invitation to lunch. It is important that you know you are building a genuine network that you can leverage. SciPhD co-founder Randy Ribaudo Ph.D. made sure to add that no one in this network you build is meant to offer you a job, but they know someone who will! Building a network is all about making connections that will somehow allow you to stand out, get your resume on the hiring managers desk, and be made aware of opportunities available to you. Importantly, building a network and achieving success means you can also provide similar resources to people within your network.

SciPhD brought students together through the concept of networking all the time. You’ve probably heard about this already – developing an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch has three components: what you do, how you do it, and how you engage with others. Keeping these factors in mind, Dr. Ribaudo notes that we also need to remember our audience and deliver the correct pitch to the correct individual, as well as shift into the learner role as described above. You might be asking, what if you can’t prepare your elevator pitch ahead of time? In this case, it is helpful to ask general questions of the person you are networking with – things like their current role, general career advice, or their own experiences that you can glean from your interactions with them. It was recommended to always carry business cards with you to distribute if need be, and to collect them from individuals you network with. Immediately after networking, SciPhD suggests that you write down brief details and unique bits of information from each individual, so that you can reach out to them with some tailored messages later. With these tips in mind, your networking will be much more fruitful and effective!

Stay tuned for part 3 in the 2021 SciPhD Leadership and Business Skills series!

This article was edited by Junior Editor Rukia Henry and Senior Editor Samantha Avina