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Over the past few months, I’ve received multiple thoughtful letters from those working in the scientific research community. I (like you may be) was very surprised to be receiving questions from this group of extremely smart professionals.

Most likely, it’s because I’m located in Memphis, near St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and other medical research institutions. Scientists and engineers here are learning about (and developing cutting edge technology for) everything from orthopedic implants to new vaccines to cancer cures.

I debated about whether or not to share this feedback with the broad audience of my newsletter, but it applies to more than just researchers. Regardless of which industry you start in, and which one you transition into, the challenges are very similar.

Before I jump into my thoughts, lets start with the issue. Many PhD scientists have 3-5 year research contracts with their research institution (like St. Jude). At the end of the contract, they have to decide what they want to do next. They could either stay in research or transition to corporate. Or, some even consider starting their own business.

Often times, when a researcher gets to this crossroad, they are in their late 30s or early 40s. Although they have a lot of scientific knowledge, they have never worked in a corporate environment. That challenge would be intimidating to anyone!

In part because of this, and few resources available for making a career transition to corporate, many choose to stay in research. I’m sure you can relate to this in your own career. You may choose to stay in your current field because you’re unsure of how to begin a transition to a new field.

If you are in a similar situation, here’s a little advice to help you get started.

  1. Don’t focus too much on minimum requirements – Job descriptions are often packed full of minimum requirements. “Must have 3 years of experience managing employees.” “Must have 2 years of experience managing vendor relationships.” Whatever the requirements, don’t let them keep you from applying. If you’re confident that you can perform the role, apply. Companies rarely find the perfect candidate who meets all the requirements.
  2. Network – Get out in the field you want to work in, and meet new people. Ask for one-on-one meetings to learn more about what they do. Find out how they made the transition from research to corporate.
  3. Use LinkedIn – Connect to your school colleagues, professors, fellow researchers, and corporate contacts through LinkedIn. Use the site to showcase your skills, expertise, and accomplishments.
  4. Practice and be persistent – Even if you find interviews difficult, keep applying and keep interviewing. Every interview you don’t land is practice for the next one. You will get better!
  5. Don’t give up – You just need one hiring manager to take a chance on you. Once you’ve made the transition, you’re a corporate employee – and getting future corporate jobs will be easier.

And at the end of the day, it’s okay to ask for help. If your university has a career resources department, call them. Ask friends and colleagues to help you. And, if I can be of assistance during your transition, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to help you with your career change.

As a reminder, the Copeland Coaching Podcast launched three weeks ago! This Tuesday and every Tuesday, I will interview an expert in the field of job searching – including coaches, recruiters, financial experts, and more!

You can listen to the podcast in two ways. First, it’s available for free download on Apple Podcasts. You can also listen on So, whether you want to listen on your desktop, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet, you’re covered. Listen from wherever, whenever!

And speaking of finding a job, I’m searching for a Social Media Intern for Copeland Coaching.

This person should have extremely strong organization and time management skills, with the ability to work independently and meet deadlines. They should have excellent written and verbal communication skills.

At a minimum, they should have experience personally using social media. But, it’s not critical that they’ve used social media in business before. This will be a great learning opportunity for the right candidate.

This is a paid internship, and the intern may be located in Memphis or may work virtually.

The full job description is located here (note: this is a PDF document). Interested candidates are asked to send their resume, cover letter, and social media links to

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


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