19 May 2020

A Universe of Career Content to Make You Shine as Bright as GRBs

Alaina G. Levine

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) is constantly seeking ways to better serve its members. You are the reason for its existence, and it is because of you that the AAS is successful in its mission. And consequently, the Society wants to help YOU be successful in your own professional mission. The organization’s leaders and volunteers constantly ask: How can the AAS advance the career goals of those working in the astronomical sciences?

A Universe of Career Content to Make You Shine

We are inviting you to take part in an exciting new initiative aims to help you advance your career in myriad ways! Over the next 15 months, the AAS will roll out a series of career-related content specifically targeting the astronomical community. Content will take the form of webinars and other online events, tip sheets, posts (like this one!) and articles, and even templates of your marketing materials such as your CV and elevator pitch.

I am honored and ecstatic that I will be working with the AAS on this program. As many of you know, I have been collaborating with the Society for more than 10 years, mostly through panels and presentations about career issues such as networking and interviewing at the winter, and occasionally the summer, meetings. And for those of you with whom I haven’t had the privilege of interacting previously, I look forward to partnering with you. I am a STEM career consultant, professional speaker, science writer, corporate comedian, entrepreneur, and author of the book Networking for Nerds (Wiley, 2015, foreword by astrophysicist and Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt). I have been in the career space for 20 years; my profession, and indeed my passion, is helping scientists, engineers, and non-nerds find, create, land, and keep their dream jobs!

The AAS Employment Committee has been integral in designing the program’s deliverables and focus areas. It’s an ambitious project and the committee, led by Joel Kastner, has thoughtfully and strategically discussed, explored, and proposed multiple ideas for topics, content delivery methods, and resources that we can produce for you.

Each deliverable will focus on a unique career-related topic, from basics like negotiation and virtual interviewing to deep dives on how to write a cover letter and what it’s like to work in the aerospace industry. All content will be posted on the AAS website in perpetuity. While some items will be available for non-members, we are specifically developing member-only content. So, if you haven’t joined or renewed your AAS membership, this is a great time to do so, so you an get access to those member-only perks.

Here’s a taste of what you can expect in the next 15 months:

  • Templates and recipes, for all your important career advancement documents. You say you want to write a clear CV for an academic job? Or how about a concise resume for a position in industry? Need a recipe for how to write a cover letter? We got you covered! All of these templates and more will be posted on the AAS website in word form for you to download and use as you like.
  • Webinars, webinars, webinars! Get ready for a career development webinar to be premiered every other week. Webinar styles will range from presentations to panel discussions to interviews and Q&As. We will feature conversations with astronomers and astrophysicists who have pursued careers in diverse spaces such as data science, science communications, aerospace, and other more diverse industries. We will address timely issues, such as managing a career in a crisis and how to maintain productivity while working remotely.
  • Tip sheets. We want to make it easy for you to move your career forward so we are developing a galaxy’s worth of tip sheets — quick, concise, bullet-styled lists of useful information and advice you can use immediately. Actionable content is the name of the game. Examples of probable tip sheets include ways to follow up from networking, to leverage LinkedIn, and to shine in a virtual interview. While some topics for these tip sheets will be related to the webinars and blogs (designed to be consumed in concert with each other), other tip sheets will be on stand-alone topics.
  • Digest posts and articles. We want to take deeper dives into addressing issues important to you and our new set of blogs and articles will serve this purpose. From interviews with leaders in cool careers and frontier fields, to advice columns on how to navigate failure and challenges (such as how to navigate your career during the pandemic), these written pieces will serve the AAS community in various ways.
  • One-on-one career consulting. I will be offering private, confidential career consulting with AAS members. We will be able to address any of your career-related needs, from editing your CV to what career opportunities are available to you to managing leadership, teamwork, and conflict resolution issues that may come up in groups. Note that there is an additional fee for this service, which will be posted on the website. But this service will actually raise money for other AAS initiatives as a portion of your investment will be given back to the AAS.

And there is more to come! The AAS Employment Committee is cooking up many other offerings to help you win gainful employment in whatever field or sector you choose. All this is to say that the AAS is your strategic career partner for the lifetimes of your careers. Most likely you will have multiple jobs and even multiple careers in your life, and the AAS will be a guiding and trusted compatriot on your road to professional victory.

But we can’t do this without your help! Since all of these services are being designed uniquely for you and your needs, we want to hear from you. Are there any topics you would like to see addressed in a webinar, blog post, or tip sheet? Is there a question or a person or an area you would like to learn more about?

I am proud to be a part of this important initiative by the AAS to help you achieve your career goals. It has been an absolute pleasure and honor to working with the Society to help you over these years and I want to thank my colleagues Kevin Marvel, Diane Frendak, Hua Liu, Joel Kastner, and the entire Employment Committee for their thoughtful advice, ideas, and support. Together we will help you attain your unicorn career. I can’t wait to explore the universe of career options with you. Here’s to your triumph!

Alaina G. Levine

Concepts in this post may come from and build on the author's previous published works, including articles, speeches, and her book, Networking for Nerds.

Alaina G. Levine is an award-winning entrepreneur, STEM career consultant, science journalist, professional speaker, and corporate comedian. Her book, Networking for Nerds (Wiley, 2015) was named one of the Top 5 Books of 2015 by Physics Today. She writes "Your Unicorn Career", a careers column for ScienceCareers about finding your professional bliss, and is a frequent speaker for the AAS.

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