Research Scientist 

(Male, Age 25) from Saint Louis, MO

This is a REAL-LIFE job profile written by a Male aged 25 who works as a Research Scientist in Saint Louis, MO. We have removed all names and personal information in order to protect privacy. This professional kindly spent a bit of their time to complete one of our job profile surveys so that prospective job seekers like you could read their insights. Please excuse any punctuation or grammatical errors in this profile.

At a Glance

Current Job

Basic data on your current job

Job Title Research Scientist
Salary $27,000
Other Compensation None Set
Hours/Week 45
Company Size (not answered)
Location Saint Louis, MO
Years Experience 3 years

Career Ratings

Opinions on your CAREER overall (i.e. not just your current job)

Years in Career 0
Education (not answered)
Income Rating 0 / 10
Interest Rating 0 / 10
Work-Life Rating 0 / 10
Fulfilment Rating 0 / 10

Current job Q&A

Describe the type of organization you work for.
I am currently employed and paid by Washington University which is a private educational institution employing about 12,500 people.

Describe your job role and responsibilities.
As a research scientist I am responsible for developing interesting hypotheses regarding the role of bacteria in the human gut, designing experiments to test those hypotheses, and compiling my data and conclusions for publication.

Please list an additional benefits (beyond compensation) that you receive.
2 weeks vacation, full medical coverage contingent on the use of WashU medical facilities, group plan dental and vision, no retirement plan available

Do you feel you are under/over or well/fairly compensated at your current position?

Does your job entail you working with others on a daily basis? Is this something you like/dislike about your job? Please explain.
I work with roughly 12 other people on a daily basis. I very much enjoy interacting with my fellow scientists, who in many cases are experienced in areas I am not. I find working with others daily is a rewarding way to grow professionally, gain new expertise, and improve my communication skills.

Do you work collaboratively with supervisors/managers?

Do you work collaboratively with your co-workers?

Describe your work location (e.g., office, home, theatre, in the field) and what you like/dislike about working in it.
Our projects are often multidisciplinary and require the collaboration of multiple scientists for a successful outcome. Different projects may require me to work with different groups of people (i.e. I am usually not interacting with the same nucleus of employees each time a new project starts).

Please rate each of the following aspects of your current job on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest/best):
Income: 1
Benefits: 6
Hours: 4
Co-Workers: 2
Supervisors: 5
Job Title: 8
Level of Responsibility: 7
The Actual Work: 3

Table of Contents

How you got your job

How did you get your current job?
Internet, career counselor recommendations

What was the application process?
Paper and electronic applications followed by interviews with multiple staff

Did you have to interview for your current job? If yes, what did the interview process entail?
Yes, I did have to interview. This process entailed a single two-day marathon of one-on-one meetings with current staff/program directors (at least five), as well as various informational activities.

If you can remember, what questions were you asked during the interview?
“Why do you want to work here?” “What particular skills or experience make you qualified for this position?” “What are your long-term expectations for a position here?”

Do you feel your employer properly prepared you for your job? Explain.
Yes – when I am faced with projects for which I am not yet prepared, I am usually paired up with more senior scientists to train me in the methods needed.

Was there training for your current position? If yes, what did it entail?
Yes. The techniques and methods I employ on a daily basis were taught to me by mentors, professors and senior scientists during my training in school. Most training was hands-on in a laboratory, though without extensive classroom learning I could not do my job effectively. Overall, I had six years of coursework, labwork and research training leading up to my current position.

Do you feel your educational background prepared you for your job? Explain.
Absolutely – extensive coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and communications has given me the tools needed to be a successful scientist.

If applicable, do you feel your internship experience helped you prepare for your job?

If someone wanted to go about getting a job similar to yours, what would you recommend for him or her to do?
It would be nearly impossible to do my job without first obtaining a degree in the biological sciences (I would recommend nothing less than a M.S. in Biology in the current job market). A strong emphasis on obtaining hands-on research experience is paramount, as is accumulating a well-documented record of successes in past research projects (most notably, publications in reputable journals).

What skills do you think a person should have if they want to pursue a position like yours?
I think a successful research scientist must, above all, have a well-developed appreciation for and experience with the scientific method, from developing hypotheses to designing experiments, to carrying those experiments out and analyzing the results. A strong foundation in logical reasoning is very important, as are well-developed organizational skills (an ability to maintain good records, plan long-term strategies for experiments, etc.). Technical skills in research methods are very helpful, but one should expect to have to learn as they go, as each project presents its own sets of challenges and approaches required. Finally, strong social and communication skills are becoming increasingly important as science becomes more and more multidisciplinary and studies require greater levels of resources and expertise. The days of the lone scientist toiling in his/her basement are over – you cannot be successful in research today without being able to work with others, learn from them, and communicate your own ideas to a group.

Do you feel that you need a certain level of education or training to be successful in your job?
Absolutely. It would be impossible to do my job without a strong educational background in the sciences and hands-on research experience in a lab.

What advice would you give to someone who was about to start work in your position/ line of work?
Do not be afraid of failure and do not let yourself get easily discouraged. Science is HARD and takes much more time than most people realize. Do not miss opportunities to learn from others who are more experienced than you, do not be afraid to ask questions, and do your best to cultivate a love of learning and reading. If you have little research experience, it is incredibly important to be mentored early on so that you can develop good habits and effective approaches to answering the questions that interest you.

Long-term career plans

Is your current employment part of your overall career plan? Why or why not?
Yes – my current position is part of a career path that will hopefully lead to a fully tenured position in academia as a professor some day. It would be impossible to reach such a position without first gaining extensive research experience, as I am doing now.

What are your current career goals?
I would like to hold a senior position as a professor at a well-respected university where I am fairly independent and in charge of my own research lab.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your career?

Educational background

Please list your educational background:

High School GPA:4

GPA School Degree
College (Undergraduate)
or Technical/Vocational
3.8 MIT Biology, B.S.
Graduate or Professional
(Masters or Doctorate)
3.7 Washington University Microbiology, M.S.

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