2015 SOT Education-Career Development Session: Challenges in the Life Cycle of a Toxicologist

Chairperson(s): Tina E. Levine, Retired, Arlington, VA, and William J. Brock, Brock Scientific Consulting LLC, Montgomery
Village, MD.

Career Resource and Development Committee
Education Committee; Women in Toxicology Special Interest Group

Toxicologists face different challenges at different stages of their career life cycle. This session will explore some of these challenges, and offer potential solutions to those challenges. Industry, academia, and government employ 47%, 21%, and 14% of toxicologists, respectively. For students and postdoctoral trainees applying for jobs in these sectors, the initial challenge in getting that first position is presenting oneself on paper and in person. The goal of the first presentation will be to demystify the US federal hiring process with specific emphasis on how to describe oneself on paper as a toxicologist in order to be considered for a government position. The second speaker will address early-career toxicology positions in industry, and how the roles and responsibilities of the entry-level toxicologist contribute to the developing career. For the mid-career toxicologist, the challenge is often how to keep progressing, whether to pursue a technical or managerial track, and whether to consider transitioning to peripheral disciplines. The mid-career toxicologist speaker will provide guidance on how to develop a broad skill-set to enhance career opportunities. The fourth speaker will address how work/ life satisfaction can be attained in the context of careers in science, which are very often a way of life and far more than a job. The tools presented will assist attendees in identifying strategies that can have the biggest impact on their work/life satisfaction and in developing their own personal action plan, whatever their career stage. The final challenge for many toxicologists is how to transition to semi- or full retirement; many toxicologists continue to work either full or part-time as consultants. Some choose to pursue interests long deferred due to the demands of full-time work. The last presentation will explore challenges encountered by the toxicologist as “retirement” and the twilight of a career approach. At the end of the session, a panel discussion will convene to address specific issues that arise in the career of the attendees, and discuss strategies for advancing the toxicology career.