1. Please describe your current position.
As Outreach Director at the Faculty of 1000, I serve as the point of contact for scientists, postdoctoral and graduate student associations and other professional groups in the Americas. I maintain communication with these groups to learn about their experience with F1000 services and explore ways to support them. I work to develop and implement programs that help users of F1000 products to share their knowledge with others.
2. How far in advance of your planned starting date did you begin looking for jobs?
My job found me before I started looking for jobs.
3. How did you learn about your current position?
From an email sent to my mentor, Berhane Ghebrehiwet, by F1000, which he forwarded to me. Berhane is an F1000 Faculty Member, and that’s why he received the email asking if he knew anyone who might be interested in the Outreach position. The rest is history.
4. Were any resources (inside or outside your university) particularly helpful in your job search?
Since I didn’t start my search yet when I found the job, I can’t answer this question. However, since the job came to me via a forwarded email, I’d say the most important aspect in stumbling on the job was my network.
5. What was your work or educational background before you were hired?
I was in the first year of my second postdoc.
6. Which aspects of your background (doctoral training, postdoctoral training, internships, etc.) were required for your position?
Three things were most important for this position: First, I had to be familiar with Faculty of 1000, the company. Since I’d been an F1000 Associate Faculty Member for three years assisting my mentor with picking landmark articles in the field, I was already very familiar with F1000. Second, thinking outside the box and the ability to problem solve were big requirements. Both my doctoral and my postdoctoral training were very helpful in this, and I felt excited and ready to embrace a position that called for such unusual qualities. And third, the ability to network was a must. Networking is the number one skill that I utilize on a day-to-day basis as Outreach Director. I was very lucky that during my doctoral training Berhane Ghebrehiwet encouraged me and gave me many opportunities to network with other scientists. By the time I applied at F1000, I had a large network of scientists that I was in touch with, and this group has grown since then.
7. How long after your interview did you start your position? Were there any barriers to starting your position when you had hoped (e.g., lack of space or funding available, time to secure appropriate visa or any other official procedures)?
I started a couple weeks after I was hired. There were no barriers, and the company was very keen and welcoming right away.
8. How would you describe the interview process and how did you prepare for it? Were there any skills or experiences in your CV that seemed to stand out?
My interview process was intense. During the initial interview I was asked about my background and my understanding of the company. Then during the second interview with Vitek Tracz, the chairman of F1000, I had to give a proposal to two problems I was presented with a week before the meeting. And last, I had to write a blog post for the third and final phase. Problem solving and the ability to think outside the box helped me a lot, especially during the second part of the interview. My CV stood out because of all the experiences I had away from the bench, such as being on the organizing committee of an international conference. That convinced F1000 that I’d be able to take on the responsibility of my new role in the company.
9. Did you pursue any other position or career path prior to being hired in your current position? If so, what factors led to your ultimate job choice?
No, this is my first job after being a postdoc.
10. Has your career trajectory followed the path you had expected when you started graduate school?
I really didn’t know what kind of career I wanted when I entered graduate school. I entered with an open mind, and allowed my interests to develop later during my training.
11. Is there anything about your current job that you had not expected before you were hired?
That the focus of my role might change depending on what the company’s interests demand. Luckily, I like to be presented with new challenges, and I’m at my best when I’m tackling a difficult task. I don’t like to get comfortable, so a dynamic and changing work setting suits me well.
12. Are there any particular skills or experiences you wish you had before you started?
No. I’m a strong believer that a person can learn anything they put their mind to if given enough motivation. So even if a situation is new at first, in time, the skills can be learned. I am faced with new things every day in my job: a new type of software to learn, a new event to organize, a new talk to assemble. But I don’t think previous experience is necessary; it can all be learned and achieved one new task at a time.
13. How do you spend an average workday?
I don’t have an average workday. In my job no two days are alike.
14. What do you like the most about your work?
The answer to the previous question is exactly what I like the most—I love that my job is dynamic, and offers a lot of variety. I never get bored.
15. What do you find the most challenging about your work?
My company is in London, and I work remotely from New York, or from wherever I’m traveling at the time. So to keep in touch with my colleagues, I use teleconferencing tools. I try to talk to them on a regular basis so that I am a part of the team despite being in a different location.
16. What skills do you think are absolutely essential for your position?
The ability to network and problem-solving.
17. Do you think it helps to have a certain personality to do the work you do?
You have to be independent, and at the same time be a good team worker. I think that takes a very specific type of person to be able to do both. And be outgoing. I interact with people a lot, either because I’m giving a talk, or at a conference, or because I’m organizing a meeting. For all that, you have to be a good communicator, approachable, and think on your feet.
18. At any point, do you resent not having pursued a career in the academic field?
No. I always knew academia wasn’t for me.
19. What advice would you give to someone looking for a position like yours?
Don’t say “no” to any new task. When my mentor asked me to become Associate Faculty Member for F1000, I was busy with writing a paper and working on multiple projects. However, I didn’t even consider saying “no.” And that decision really paid off!
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