Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Brian Macken from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Brian Macken

Science Communicator

Smart Futures

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  Brian Macken

I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.

I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.

But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould).  However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.

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Investigative?
Investigative 
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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Career Skills
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You might be surprised to know that you already have many of the skills which are essential for employment in the modern workplace.

These are not the specific knowledge based skills you would learn during an apprenticeship, in college or at work, but the ‘transferable skills’ which we all need to use when we work with other people, on projects or even by ourselves. You develop these skills simply from being involved in everyday activities. They are not formally ‘taught’ in school, but they may develop there, at home, or through your hobbies, activities, and friendships.



Introduction to Career Skills by Brian Mooney


The skills we are talking about are quite ordinary, that’s why we don’t usually notice them. These ‘ordinary’ skills are so taken for granted that we seldom make any effort to improve or develop them. Terms such as ‘communication skills’, ‘people skills’ and ‘organisation skills’ are just some of the many skills which most people develop without even knowing about it.


Why are they important?
Lets put it this way. Two equally qualified people have applied for a job as a scientist. At the job interview, each is asked if they think that they would be good at the job. The first person answers with a simple “yes”, the second one also answers “yes”, and continues to discuss why they think they would be good. Both are well qualified for the job, but the second candidate has better ‘communication skills’, i.e. is simply better able to communicate when asked for information. Both may have honours degrees; but the better developed ‘ordinary’ skill of communication gives the edge to the second candidate.

Chances are, the first candidate thought that having the right qualification was all that was needed to get the job. Big mistake! It’s safe to assume that for every job you apply for, there will also be several others who will have the same or better qualifications. So it is not necessarily the qualifications that win the job contract! More often, it is the ‘ordinary’ skills, and the evidence that you have developed them that counts.



Extract from author Peggy Klaus, Leadership and Communication coach speaking in 2008 gives a brief introduction to soft (transferable) skills for successful employment.
Your Career Skills distinguish you from others more than you might think!
Where do I start?
You can use the exercise on this downloadable worksheet to discover the most sought after skills needed to get jobs in the modern workplace. By rating yourself on these skills, you can see where your strengths and weaknesses may lie. Then, you can look for opportunities to develop and practice your underdeveloped skills.

Download Worksheet