To learn more about what communication professionals are thinking about, consider joining one of these groups if you are in any field of study:
American Medical Writers Association (AMWA)
Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI)
Medical Science Liaison Society
National Association of Science Writers (NASW)
Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) network
Society for Technical Communication
Or get active in the professional society in your field of study to promote the work they do. This can be where you get experience that can lead to editing roles or other careers involving communication and outreach.
Mentors in Communication Careers
Listen to the podcast on communicating effectively by Jeff Niederdeppe through TeachBetter.
Look at the LinkedIn profiles and reach out to Careers Beyond Academia mentors about how they use communication skills in their career to:
- Write and speak effectively for a range of purposes, audiences, and contexts
- Identify, assess, and use reliable and valid information sources
- Communicate with visual and digital tools effectively
- Use their communication skills to advocate for policy
Sarah Davidson Evanega
Ana Maria Porras
Tips and Tools for Better Communicaiton
Check out this De-Jargonizer Tool to see if your talk/abstract/presentation/summary is accessible to all smart, curious people who aren't in your field.
This Jobscan Tool might boost your chances at being selected for an interview by checking if you included keywords in the job description on your resume and other application materials.
Courses and Workshops to Improve Communication Skills
Careers Beyond Academia holds regular workshops to help you hone skills needed for your professional future. Explore our calendar of events to see which ones match your availability and interests. We routinely advertise activities from on and off campus and sometimes offer to reimburse for your travel to nearby workshops. Please contact us to discuss your specific needs. Our weekly listserv communication includes many more opportunities.
- COMM 5660 Science Communication Workshop (1 cr. B. Lewenstein) A weekend workshop offered fall and spring that trains researchers in the sciences (including natural sciences, engineering, experimental social sciences, etc.) to communicate effectively with non-scientists such as policymakers, political stakeholders, the media, and the general public. Training activities may include role-play, reading/discussion, writing press releases and other outreach materials, and discussion with invited speakers.
- BIOMS 5665 Community Based Research Presentations and Discussions (1 cr. R. Weiss) This seminar series provides a forum for interactions between cancer research students and cancer patients and their care givers. Through this course, students meet and interact with cancer patients and develop skills in communicating science to the public.
- ENGRG 3360 Developing STEM Storytelling Skills with WSKG Public Media and PBS NewsHour (3 cr. J. Nucci) If you can't communicate your engineering ideas, then their potential can't be realized. This course tackles the challenge of 21st century science and engineering communication by providing instruction and practice creating innovative presentations and videos, which may ultimately become part of PBS Learning Media, a nationally distributed educational resource.
- PHYS 7679 Finding Your Scientific Voice (3 cr. I. Cohen) This course workshops your 10 minute scientific presentations in a safe and playful environment. You will develop performance practices that enable you to tell a credible and entertaining story in a confident manner. Don't miss this opportunity to hone your research presentation skills from top to bottom.
- COMM 6860 Risk Communication (3 cr. D. Balog-Way) Examines the theory and research related to the communication of scientific information about environmental, agricultural, food, health, and nutritional risks.
- COMM 6660 Public Engagement in Science (3 cr. B Lewenstein) This seminar explores the scholarly literature addressing the links between "public engagement" and earlier concerns about sciences literacy, public understanding of science, and outreach; and the intersections between literature in communication and in science studies on issues involving the relationships among science(s) and public(s).
- COMM 6760 Public Health Communication (3 cr. J. Niederdeppe) Provides an overview of theory and research on public communication related to health behavior and policy change. Topics include theories of behavior change and message effects; formative and evaluative research; campaigns related to cancer, AIDS, obesity, smoking, nutrition, and drug use; and heterogeneity in campaign effects between populations.
Opportunities in Communication
Remember to look around for opportunities for you to get communication experience to include in your resume, and build your portfolio of communication samples. Many graduate students and postdocs find time to prioritize side projects either solo or as a part of a team to:
- start a scicomm group or lead outreach activities
- organize and run a ComSciCon Symposium
- contribute to written blogs, podcasts, or video blogs
- write a popular science, trade magazine, or opinion article
- advocate for policy change
- apply for a fellowship
- host a panel discussion
- mentor others in their written submissions
Others have initiated more time intensive activities to:
- write a popular book about a research field
- start a non-profit to improve access to science
- initiate a chapter within a professional organization
- become an editor of a communication journal
- intern in a communication role
- become a policy, TED, or AAAS fellow
Sample job titles to search for
Medical Science Liaison
Public relations manager/officer/director
Writer/ Science writer
Remember, communication might not be your full-time role! You may be involved in public communication of your research through guest lectures, invited public talks, volunteer roles, or online participation.