Where should a smart, but directionless 26-year-old ex-scientist focus her energy to build a solid, satisfying career?

Prepwise AnswersCategory: General CareerWhere should a smart, but directionless 26-year-old ex-scientist focus her energy to build a solid, satisfying career?
Career Dev Staff Staff asked 5 years ago
1 Answers
Kate McKeon Staff answered 5 years ago

The good news is that you are looking for a reasonable salary – that’s the equivalent of $25-30/hour for a 40 hour work week (50 weeks/yr).
Have you considered branding yourself? In the 2-3 months that it will take to begin generating decent traffic (based on 10-15 hours/week of effort), you can create loads of video and written content on a particular area of Biology that inspires you. Give yourself 4-5 hours a week for the administrative aspects of setting things up (learning how to use wordpress+vimeo+linkedIn, etc.) and 10 hours for creating content.
Your first 2-3 weeks will probably feel like a slog with maybe 2-3 usable pieces, but after you get moving, the pace will pick up. You should be able to produce 10 pieces in 10 hours. Beware the temptation to add advertising and write about celebrity gossip. Play in the space you care about and can impact.
It will only cost you time.
Here’s the WHY.
No matter what you next choose to do professionally, people will search for you online. If you are stumping for science, they want to see your name + science content. It’s still early enough in the online world (model T days versus the Porsche that’s coming) that folks looking you up will be delightfully surprised to see that you’ve produced this stuff since too few do. It gets the doors open and helps you create a loyal following. Get your friends involved with getting the word out. A single inspiring post can generate tons of traffic. For example, I have one blog post that generates a few hundred hits/day on a tiny site and a few comments from potential clients each week.
AND, if you are tutoring (once you quit the regular job) it serves as a credibility marker which allows you to charge more and maintain more stable hours. So you can tutor for 15-20 hours a week at $100/hour (specializing in science!), maintain your science writing 10-15 hours a week and deal with running a business 5 hours a week.
That gives you baseline 6-8k per month or $72-96k/year.
Or you can do something else with your regular work hours, but start to differentiate yourself.