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A Career Decision Influenced by Science Careers

About a year and half ago, as
I was getting ready to wrap up my PhD (Neurobiology), I sat down and asked
myself, aside from taking up postdoctoral training- considered the default
route, what would I like and be able to do for a career. Among the readily
visible options was medicine, public health, business or law. I figured those
options would help me specialize further and not necessarily broaden my
professional horizons which is where I wanted to take my career. More
importantly, I did not want to stray from science, but build on the experience
I gained and instead work at perhaps a ‘big picture’ level. Picky, yes!

At that juncture, Science Careers was the
first place I stopped by and visited most often since then. It offered a wealth
of information about degree
programs
, funding
opportunities
as well as job openings and it
continues to update its databases regularly and frequently. The Web site also
contained valuable first-person accounts of individuals who took up
unconventional career paths and in that sense they were pioneers. I read online
articles on science
policy
, ethics,
and science
writing
and decided to contact some of the authors. It was to my joyous
surprise that I actually got replies from them. They presented a balanced
picture of what each of those career paths had to offer and the need for
professionals, who are proficient in the language of science and public-policy,
to take on the role of liaisons.

The
information, advice and encouragement I received, along with support from my
PhD mentors, made me comfortable in stepping outside the lab and confident in
seeking out the necessary skills to carve out an ‘alternate’ career – at the
intersection of policy, ethics and writing – in an international setting. I
joined the MA in International Science & Technology Policy degree program, at The George Washington University, concentrating in Biomedical
Policy & Ethics. Now, at the start of second and final year of the
program, I look forward to the remainder of an exciting journey learning new
subjects and issues and, equally importantly, networking which comes with
living and working at the heart of policy-making that is Washington,DC. As for the future, I feel challenged
and excited about what it has to offer.

Vidya N Nukala, PhD
MA International Science & Technology Policy (2009)
Elliott School of International Affairs
The George Washington University
Washington DC