If you’re having trouble finding a job or just looking to get some more experience, don’t be afraid to take a short-term position.
While I was looking for a job in science writing, I also started looking for something temporary that I could do to beef up my resume (and bring in some money). I eventually came across a job post on indeed.com, a great job-hunting resource that is very user-friendly. If you haven’t heard about indeed.com, now consider yourself informed!
The job post was for a position teaching basic scientific concepts to elementary school kids, 2 to 3 times/week. I’ve always liked kids, and I’ve done some tutoring in the past, but why would I choose teaching to enhance my resume? Let me explain my logic.
Teaching about science and science writing have a lot in common. They are both a form of what I like to call, “scientific translation.”
As a writer, you are taking complex scientific information and breaking it down, so it’s easy to understand. Well, teaching is pretty much the same thing, except it’s done primarily through speaking and not writing.
In general, if you can teach, and do it pretty well, you can communicate effectively. The ability to communicate well is important in any job, especially one in science writing.
If you work in an agency setting like me, you’ll most likely have to speak about scientific data with your clients and coworkers regularly, so don’t forget about the verbal aspect as well.
In my cover letters to the many jobs I applied to, I summed up this and other experiences as follows: “I also recently taught general science topics to third through fifth grade students at a local elementary school’s after-school program. These experiences demonstrate my ability to discuss scientific subjects both verbally and in writing as well as my ability to effectively communicate with others. They also demonstrate my passion for communicating scientific advancements and fostering scientific interest in others using audience-appropriate language.”
As I’ve said before, use your current experiences to your benefit. Analyze them and figure out how they’ve shaped who are, and what you can do. Don’t be afraid to point out what they may say about you, or even how they demonstrate your feelings about a particular subject. Everything you’ve done is important. Don’t leave any experience untapped. If you need more experience, or are looking for something to do for the time being, be purposeful in the opportunities you pursue.