Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spotlight on Careers - Request for Feedback on Interview Questions

Dear Readers,

In 2013-14, we plan to provide a series of ~50 blog posts highlighting the full range of career routes that astronomers pursue after their degree. Thank you to all our readers who provided great recommendations for people we should contact!

If you have additional recommendations, please email me at l-trouille [at] with the person's name and email address. We are especially interested in highlighting women, but are open to all suggestions.

We are now in the process of compiling questions to ask our interviewees. We would greatly appreciate your feedback on these questions and additional questions you recommend we include. 

  1. What is your current job title and company/organization? 
  2. Where are you based? (Please include city, state, and country.)
  3. What was your last academic position before switching fields of work (i.e. masters/PhD student, first/second post-doc, etc.)? 
  4. What has been your career path since you completed your degree? (Including intermediate steps you may have taken along the way).
  5. What were the most important factors that led you to leave academia? 
  6. What was your age at the time you made your first career change? Your most recent career change? 
  7. What have been particularly valuable skills for your current job that you gained through completing your degree?
  8. What additional training did you complete in order to be able to perform your new duties?
  9. What qualifications were necessary for obtaining your current position?
  10. What advice do you think faculty advisors need to be giving their students?
  11. How many hours a week do you work? 
  12. What is your salary range (i.e., between $40K-50K)?
  13. What is your level of satisfaction with your current job?
  14. What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? Least? 
  15. What do you enjoy most about your working environment? Least?
  16. What opportunities does your job provide to be creative and/or to take initiative?
  17. What advice do you have for work-life balance (including having a family)?

Additional Yes/No Questions:

  1. Can we include your contact info in the blog post for people who might want to contact you directly about your specific career route? 
  2. Are you interested in working with the AAS Employment Committee on creating formal ties between your company or your field and the astronomy community? (This could come in a range of flavors -- advertising jobs through the job register, having astronomer-specific calls for jobs, creating internships for astronomers at your company, … other examples??) 

Final note: Readers, check out these Jobs for Astronomers Networking Groups:


Johanna Teske said...

I have a recommendation for a question for the alternative careers questionnaire. If you think it's relevant,

Do you still interact with astronomy and/or people who work (directly) in astronomy?

I'm interested in how absolute the cut-off is when someone decides to leave traditional they feel like they are betraying their advisors, friends, colleagues? Do they feel like they can never "go back"?

Anonymous said...

Have you maintained ties to astronomy? What are they?

Sara said...

It's not always obvious what a particular job title actually means. I'd like to have some form of this question included:

Please describe a typical day at work or your most common job duties.

Anonymous said...

Comment by joequant ported from astrobetter:

Two questions:

1) Would you like to stay involved in astronomy, and if so how have you do it and what are the barriers that keep you from doing so?

2) What would information would you like to find out from people looking for jobs? And what *don’t* you know?

The reason for these questions is that I’d like to find out how people are doing with 1). I’ve gotten a job, but I’d really like to stay involved in the astronomy community however possible, and I think people would have more options if getting an industrial job wasn’t seen as something of a death sentence.

The reason that I’m interested in 2) is that one of the experiences that I had was that people that I thought had the answers often didn’t, and now I’m older, I worry that I’m “living in a bubble” and the information that I have will turn out to be irrelevant or downright misleading. One thing that’s important about career discussions is that they need to be dialogues. It’s been a decade and a half since I got my Ph.D., and the world that new Ph.D.’s are going into is just different. I need to learn as much about what is going on with new graduates. Having gotten terrible advice in the past, I try not to give advice. I just try to tell stories, and I’m interested in listening to stories that other people have.

And there is stuff that I just don’t know. If you want me to tell you want the job prospects are in my industry (banking and finance) in two years and what skills will be in demand, my honest answer is that I haven’t got a clue. I *might* be able to tell you whats available in the next six months, but even that’s iffy.

I just can’t give you a cookbook. What I can do is to give you bits of information, and maybe you can piece together some deep truth with other information that you get. Which is what physicists do.