Finding a Virology Career Right for You: I Did it - So Can You! Nancy J. Cox, PhD Director, Influenza Division National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Education and Career Development Workshop July 23, 2013 National Center for Immunization & Respiratory Diseases Influenza Division Work Life Balance I never met a woman, or a man who stated emphatically, “Yes, I have it all. Because no mater what any of us has-and how grateful we are for what we have-no one has it all.” Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead Careers in Virology Careers in virology are complex Deep and specialized field so strong background in a variety of disciplines is necessary Many jobs in virology are rooted in performance of research Intense competition for research publications and grants Successful careers involve years of preparation 4 year Bachelor of Science degree along with MD and/or PhD Several Postdoctoral Fellowship Years Adds up to 12 + years of formal training for most For women, preparation and early tenure track years occur during prime reproductive years What Careers Are Possible? • • • • • • • • • • Academic research Industry research Teaching alone or in combination with research Science communications (writers/reporters) Business administration Patent law Foundations and Nongovernmental Organizations Basic science research or managing grants and contracts, NIH Regulatory Science, FDA Investigating disease outbreaks/applied research/public health– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization My Career as Director of the Influenza Division at CDC Extremely interesting & challenging with diverse responsibilities: supervision of surveillance and research activities; management of program, staff, and budget; international travel; and WHO activities Complex internal CDC/ Health and Human Services relationships and structures; complex international relationships and responsibilities; CDC and federal regulations to navigate The Influenza Division – approx. 300 staff with half permanent employees and half contractors Diverse backgrounds of very talented and dedicated staffmany international employees, physicians, PhDs, veterinarians, postdocs, students and technicians and support staff The Influenza Program at CDC Wasn’t Always this Robust 14 Staff when I became Influenza Branch Chief in 1992 Take employees on even if they didn’t work out with others if they have talents to offer Hire the best possible staff, & provide mentorship and career opportunities so they will stay long term Take advantage of every possible funding opportunity Tell the story of what has been accomplished by the group over and over Learn how and when to say no Understand the way the world is changing and adapt as best you can Saving Lives. Protecting People. www.cdc.gov. 1-800-CDC-INFO Nancy J. Cox [email protected] Preparation: My Story Graduated from a high school in rural Iowa with only 18 students in my class No guidance counselor but….. High school chemistry teacher identified a summer college program for high school students at Iowa universities; attended between junior and senior years Applied to only two Iowa universities Full scholarship to Iowa State University – family couldn’t help financially Worked in labs during the summers and got a taste for research Graduated with major in microbiology / minors in chemistry and philosophy Preparation Love of science and desire to see more of the world led me to apply for a Marshall Scholarship to study in the U.K. Imagine my surprise when I received a Marshall Scholarship to study virology at Cambridge University ! Plunged into a different cultural/educational milieu with different expectations; a sink or swim experience Received a PhD in virology 4 years later Came back to the U.S. for post docs and eventually a staff position at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention If I Can Do It So Can You! Work Life Never be afraid of a challenge (challenge from small rural IA high school to huge university and from ISU to Cambridge University in the UK) Don’t take difficulties in the workplace personally – the issue is often more about the other person than about you (Disproportionate number of women in the influenza group; but I hired the best candidates) Decide on your career goals (become and remain a SME or become more of a generalist and move up the ladder faster) Be willing to work hard (many hours outside of work when family sleeping) Research Findings for Scientists- Work/Life Balance Assoc. for Women in Science Report on Work Life Balance Answers from over 4,000 scientists across the world 70% men and 80% married or with partner Findings similar in the U.S. and worldwide Over 50% said work demands conflict with personal lives at least 2-3 times per week 48% of women and 39% of men unhappy with the way their work and personal lives mesh 63% satisfied with career opportunities - linked to job security , clear career progression path and good work life balance 40% of women put off having children b/c of career If I Can Do It So Can You! Family Life Science career stories are often about balance as well as unique teaching/work styles and interesting research studies; mine is no exception. Both parents ambitious and focused; both travel for work but want a family (A daughter and stepson) Along the way – a few missed holidays and birthdays, but nothing major – hired a nanny to accommodate travel needs – many difficult discussions about shared responsibilities I think that we made it work pretty well; pretty well isn’t perfect but it’s good enough (do not try to make things work out perfectly). What Factors Made a Successful Career and Family Live Possible for Me? Support from teachers and professors in high school and university during the years of preparation Support from Division Director at CDC to work part time after birth of child – had worked at CDC for nearly 10 years; gave up Team Lead position and subsequently work my way back up the ladder Combined income allowed us to hire live-in nanny when our child was 9 so we could both travel Very supportive husband Learning to hire wisely, mentor and delegate Being stubborn enough not to give up Get More Comfortable With This as You Go Along! Recognition Along the Way Doubts Along the Way? Of Course • • • • • • • • Could I succeed in science/virology? Is lab bench science too isolated for my social needs? Could I cope with a very challenging work supervisor ? Should I remain in the federal workforce at CDC or should I move to academia? Could I raise a family and have a successful career? Could I maintain long time (>30 years) enthusiasm for my job? Can I continue to “do 24/7” in response mode? (recent H7N9 response) Can I remain relevant? Have Fun Along the Way • Find time to play with family and colleagues. • Whatever you do, laugh a lot as you go. • Be willing to get outside your “science comfort zone”. Favorite Quotes I never met a woman, or a man who stated emphatically, “Yes, I have it all. Because no mater what any of us has-and how grateful we are for what we have-no one has it all.” Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead “Bear in mind your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. “ Abraham Lincoln “My career has been more satisfying that I ever dreamed.” Nancy Cox Thank You!