Dr. Nadia Jaber-Holden
"No one can do career development for you, except you [...] Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t take the time or don’t have the time for career development."
What is your current job or career? How satisfied are you with said position?
I am a science writer/editor for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). I mostly write about cancer research news for NCI’s blog. I also help with special projects such as writing scripts for education videos. I love my job! I get to learn about such a huge variety of research fields, engage with the researchers, distill the science, and foster “real news” in an era of questionable content. I love that I help patients understand their treatments or research they may have or may want to contributed to.
What was your involvement in PCLP?
I initiated PCLP with a group of MCB students in 2014. It was the pilot program where we saw if such a group could really work, and I think it did!
Did you obtain a job within the career field y ou focused on during your tenure in PCLP? If not, what important lessons did you learn from your PCLP directed career exploration?
I matched with careers in science communication, which is actually a huge field. It took me a while to research various communication career tracks before I realized exactly what I wanted. Doing informational interviews was so important during this time. I asked a lot of people what a typical work day is like for them to get an idea of how I would like it. Before I got this job at NCI, I did an internship there. As an intern I was able to “test my skills” and confirm that I had chosen the right track.
Have you used any of the skills or knowledge you gained through PCLP in your job search or in your job?
I definitely think so. I update my LinkedIn profile regularly and often get recruiters contacting me for job opportunities. I think I also learned how to tailor my résumé and cover letter to each job application. And I always ask a friend or colleague to read my application to get suggestions from a different perspective.
Reflecting on the program, what part of PCLP proved to be the most useful? How did having a cohort of students with similar motivations about career development assist your efforts?
I believe going through the steps together, with a group of fellow students, was so helpful. We all learned from one another in terms of skills, opportunities, and career options. And it helped to know that I wasn’t alone as I struggled to figure out my future.
How else has being involved with PCLP affected your career or career interests?
Because I started PCLP and am a big advocate of the program, many people ask me for help with their job search or career development. I love that I can (in small ways) help people figure out what they are passionate about and help them pursue it. I get a lot of students who find my TEDx talk and ask me for advice. It’s wonderful to be able to pay it forward. And, personally, I think I am constantly evaluating my goals and interests, and still working to build my ideal career path. I always try to look for feedback and build skills I need for my career goals.
What advice would you give to current or future PCLP members?
I would tell current or future PCLP members that they are their biggest investment. No one can do career development for you, except you. It may seem overwhelming but taking one small step each month makes it manageable. You probably won’t find your dream job right away, but you can figure out a direction and go from there. It’s worth it. I love this quote: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t take the time or don’t have the time for career development. This is your life!