Career Planning and Postdocs, with Dr. Angela Fowler – Ep #49

Dr. Angela Fowler is the Director at the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at the Indiana University School of Medicine, where she advocates for the needs of postdocs and designs workshops for postdocs and grad students to guide career planning. Prior to her position as Director, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at La Jolla Institute for Immunology, researching Zika and Dengue in addition to helping develop a career development program. 

Career planning is difficult in any stage of life, but even more so during the graduate school and postdoc periods. Research is usually the focus, and it can be difficult to put energy into planning a career that has not happened yet. During her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Fowler developed a passion for career development after she heard a talk from a career planner who had made it their focus to help postdocs plan their careers. 

Dr. Angela Fowler earned her PhD in Microbiology at the University of Kansas after completing her Bachelor’s in Biology from Pittsburg State University. Angela is a first-generation college graduate and is the first-ever PhD in her family.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [2:30] What do the best manuscripts have in common?
  • [4:46] Keys to getting the best post-doc experience
  • [8:44] The career development program Dr. Fowler helped develop at the University of Kansas
  • [11:20] The earlier you plan to transition to career life the better
  • [12:50] Finding meaning in helping people 
  • [14:16] What makes a great mentor, and what makes a great mentee
  • [17:32] Dr. Fowler’s favorite resources for information

Connect with Angela Fowler, PhD

Career development can begin before you leave school

When is the best time to begin planning for a career during a postdoc? It is difficult to plan for careers that have not materialized yet. But the problem will not go away, and the sooner it is addressed, the better. Fortunately, there are experienced professionals who have gone through the process before who give their time and energy to helping others address these very concerns. 

It was during Dr. Folwer’s postdoc when she developed a passion for career development, in part because of her own experience. She heard a talk from someone who had a position and role which was centered around helping those like her to develop their career while still in a postdoctoral program. The experience inspired Dr. Folwer and she began to volunteer in career development programs, as she speaks about on the podcast. 

Getting the most out of the postdoc experience

Networking and career planning can seem like a distant problem at the beginning of a postdoc. Focusing on the present is always a good idea, but at some point, the experience will end and the sooner that reality is addressed, the smoother the transition will be to a successful career. 

As Angela talks about during this week’s episode, it is a good idea to begin the postdoc period being mindful of your future career, as well. Multiple career plans and paths can materialize out of a postdoc, and it is not ideal to put off thinking about those possibilities until the postdoc period is almost completed. Dr. Fowler has made it a part of her career to helping postdocs navigate those situations. 

Learn more about Dr. Angela Fowler and her passion for career planning on this week’s episode of When Science Speaks.

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