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Career Changes for Scientists

I’ve recently received multiple letters from scientists in the research community with questions about their career transitions. Most likely, this is because of the large number of folks I meet from the medical research community. They’re developing new technologies for things from vaccines to cancer cures.

Researchers struggle with a problem workers in all sectors face: how to change industries. Most get into research with a three- to five-year contract. But this is not before completing a lengthy Ph.D. program. By the time their contract ends, the researcher may be in their 30s or early 40s.

With no experience in corporate America, and with little support about where to begin, many of these brilliant scientists struggle to decide what’s next. The most common choices are to continue in research or to take the corporate route. Often, staying on the same path is easier, but it is not always the most desirable choice.

For those interested to make a transition, one of the first steps is to ask for help. Connect to colleagues you already know, whether they were classmates, professors or co-workers. Expand your network to corporate workers. Ask these connections, new and old, how they made large career transitions. Ask what they like and dislike.

Pay close attention to how you feel when you learn about their experience. Does the idea of sitting in a cubicle all day or being held to strict deadlines make you cringe? Or does working for a big corporation excite you? If you decide that corporate is for you, there are a few places to start.

Begin by cleaning up your resume or CV, and start applying for jobs. Don’t let the minimum requirements stop you. Keep in mind that it’s rare for a company to find the perfect candidate. If you’re confident that you can do a job, apply. Let the company decide whether or not to hire you.

Make sure you have at least one nice suit for interviews. Corporate is more formal than what you may be used to. Do your best to show you can fit into the new environment.

Practice your pitch. You need to be comfortable explaining why you want to make a career change. You are your own marketer and must help others understand your desire to make a switch. Not everyone you speak with will understand your industry jargon. Try explaining your job and career goals to an aging loved one to ensure you’re communicating in a clear manner.

Interview for as many positions as you can, at least in the short term. Remember that every interview is practice for the next one. If you don’t get this job, you’ll be more prepared for the next interview. Multiple interviews will also give you a better idea of what is available in the market, differences in companies, and your overall market value.

Being persistent with these simple steps will help you to take your career in a new direction, whether it’s from research to corporate or between other industries.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


131 | Finding a Great Job – Larry Smith, Ontario, Canada

Episode 131 is live! This week, we talk with Larry Smith in Ontario, Canada.

Larry is a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo in Canada where he coaches his students to find careers that they will truly love. In 2011, Larry presented a TED Talk titled “Why you will fail to have a great career” that has received over 5 million views. He also authored No Fears, No Excuses: What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career.

On today’s episode, Larry shares the secret to surviving in today’s job marketing, and to finding a truly great career. He also shares the reasons why you may fail to find yours.

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

To learn more about Larry, visit the University of Waterloo’s website. To check out Larry’s TED Talk, visit the TED website. And, to get a copy of Larry’s book, No Fears, No Excuses, visit Amazon here.

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.

Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!

125 | Letting Go – L’Oreal Thompson Payton, Girl Scouts in Chicago, IL

Episode 125 is live! This week, we talk with L’Oreal Thompson Payton in Chicago, IL.

A masterful storyteller with a passion for empowering young women, L’Oreal is the Media Relations Manager for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Prior to joining Girl Scouts, L’Oreal was a professional journalist for seven years, most recently as the Digital Content Editor for JET magazine. She’s also a writer and blogger for a number of publications, including EBONY, JET, HelloGiggles, and Brit + Co.

On today’s episode, L’Oreal shares her own inspiring career trajectory, and what happened when she let go of her five year plan. She also shares differences between the corporate and for profit worlds, and everything you need to know about the Girl Scouts and Girl Scout cookie time.

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

To learn more about L’Oreal, look her up on Facebook ( and Twitter (@LTintheCity).

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching. Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!

111 | Paychecks & Balances – Interview with Rich Jones, HR Pro in San Francisco, CA

Episode 111 is live! This week, we talk with Rich Jones in San Francisco, CA.

Rich is a Technical Recruiter at a large dot com company. He’s a certified professional in Human Resources with over seven years of recruiter and HR experience. Rich also co-hosts the Paychecks & Balances podcast. Paychecks & Balances is a fun-formative podcast covering work and money for the rising professional.

On today’s episode, Rich shares the biggest financial issue faced today by professionals, how to ask your current boss for a raise, and secrets to effective negotiation at a new job.


Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

To learn more about Rich’s podcast, Paychecks & Balances, visit his website at

Thanks to everyone for listening! if you have questions, you can e-mail me at Angela(at)CopelandCoaching(dot)com. If you’ve enjoyed the program today, please be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!

Would you work for free?


Last week, I had the good fortune to attend a work conference in Chicago. It wasn’t your average work conference though. Attendees wanted to be there. In fact, their companies didn’t pay for them to go. Attendees paid their own way. And, they went to all of the workshops offered – even at the end, when everyone was tired.

The conference is called Podcast Movement, and its purpose it to help educate podcasters about hosting their own radio-like programs. It’s the second year I’ve attended and what struck me last year was how passionate this group is about their work. People told me how podcasting has changed their lives. A few podcasters even got teary eyed when they were talking about their shows. Have you ever had a job that got you teary eyed with positive emotion? Me either.

This year, the speech that stuck with me the most was given by Kevin Smith. You might remember Kevin from movies like Clerks and Mallrats. He’s the filmmaker who played Silent Bob. Kevin talked about two main topics: the importance of self-expression in your work, and doing what you love. Kevin said that he had the misfortune to get paid for what he loved to do early on in his career. For a time, it caused him to refuse to work on projects he loved, unless he was paid.

His talk brought up an interesting point. As we grow in our careers, we often opt out of anything work related unless we receive a paycheck. Why is that? It could be that our personal time has been more valuable, or maybe we’re just accustomed to our companies paying for things like training, mileage, and cell phones.

But, what would happen if we explored our career interests a bit more – even if we weren’t paid for it? Chances are good that new doors and avenues would open up for us that we had never thought of. We might even enjoy our jobs a bit more.

Perhaps we’d change careers altogether. That’s what many podcasters are hoping for. Most podcast hosts create a show about a hobby or interest they have that’s unrelated to their day job. To put together a show, a host will often spend a large amount of their own money on microphones, educational workshops, and technical equipment. Some people even install sound booths in their homes for recording. They spend many hours each week planning an individual episode, seeking our guests, recording, and editing. Rarely are they paid for their work – at least not initially.

This group learns and invests in themselves and their podcasts because they love it. They aspire to one day be paid to do it full time. Until then, they share stories about how podcasting has truly impacted their own lives for the better.

So, what inspires you, and what kind of work would you do for free? If money were out of the picture, where would you invest your time and resources to grow yourself?

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Copeland Coaching Podcast Episode 10: Dr. Sam Sanders with the University of Phoenix

Episode 10 of the Copeland Coaching Podcast is live!

This week we talk with Dr. Sam Sanders from the University of Phoenix. Dr. Sanders is the College Chair for the University of Phoenix School of Business.

Dr. Sanders recently completed a survey that links career success to personal fulfillment. In the interview, Dr. Sanders shares amazing insights from his many years as both an educator and career coach. We discuss how to achieve career success and to find an opportunity that aligns with your personal values.

Listen and learn more! (You can play the podcast below, or download it for free on Apple Podcasts).

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