Forum: Bioinformaticians - Am I on the Right Track?
gravatar for kstangline
11 months ago by
kstangline20 wrote:

Hi Bioinformaticians,

I was hoping to ask some professionals to see if I'm on the right track for a Bioinformatics/Genomics career once I graduate with my master's degree.

My master's degree is in Individualized Genomics and Health at Johns Hopkins University. It is concentrated in genomics and bioinformatics (mainly focused on biology rather than programming, but I do have experience in R, Python, and Java from some of my courses).

I'm mainly concerned about my current job and how that will translate into my future career as a bioinformatics scientist. Currently, I'm working as a Research Associate in the Systems Engineering department. My duties are more in line with statistical evaluation, data visualization, and data collection from classified Naval missions (has nothing to do with biology). I chose this job because they offered me a part-time position while I finish up my Masters's.

Here is a copy of my Resume with some private information left out:

tl;dr : I graduate next year, and am worried about my current position being useful as a bioinformatics scientist. Should I keep the job or start looking for something else?

job forum career • 560 views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 11 months ago by Charles Warden7.9k • written 11 months ago by kstangline20
1 - not an answer, but a comment

ADD REPLYlink written 11 months ago by German.M.Demidov1.8k

I would take this with a grain of salt. Obviously, that farewell post was written by someone with an inflated ego who likes denigrating other peoples hard work and in this case an entire field of study. He could have made his points much more eloquently but he chose to be boorish and off-putting.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 months ago by theglobetrotter7850

If you have enough experience with statistics you have nothing to worry about. With the other background you describe you should be able to find a job without much trouble.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 months ago by genomax91k
gravatar for sviatoslav.kendall
11 months ago by
United States
sviatoslav.kendall770 wrote:

If you want to be a bioinformatics scientist, I think you should start applying to more relevant jobs as soon as possible. It's definitely helpful that your current job description sounds a lot like bioinformatics (and looks kind of like it on your resume) but I think you're going to need bioinformatic-specific experience to land a decent bioinformatics position - especially once you finish your Masters degree. Most institutions have salary guidelines that make you more expensive to hire once you've got that Masters and whenever I've been involved in hiring decisions we spent a lot of time talking about how much "hand-holding" an applicant would need before they became an asset.

tl;dr : bioinformatics experience is valuable and it might become harder for you get it post-Masters

ADD COMMENTlink written 11 months ago by sviatoslav.kendall770

@kstangline, I second sviatoslav.kendall's opinion and I am saying this based on recent experience looking for jobs. I actually graduated in 2018 from Hopkins and my specialization was in Bioinformatics and my coursework was very similar to yours. I come from computer science background and had no research experience. One thing I noticed when I started looking for jobs in Bioinformatics in Maryland/DC area is that most positions require at least one or two years of experience. I came across very few entry-level positions and many positions require a PhD or some kind of research experience. This many not be the case in other regions of the country but definitely in the MD/DC area where there are several federally funded biomedical research institutions. You already have a lot of research experience in biology and that is a huge plus. I would highly recommend that you try to gain some real-world bioinformatics research experience before you graduate. It could be a via a part-time job or an independent study. Independent study isn't listed in your program's course catalog but you can talk to your adviser and see if they will let you do one in-place of a elective. If you are located in MD/DC area, usually you can find a PI from NIH or some other research institution nearby to that will let you do an independent study for a semester and your adviser might be able to help you find one. Good luck.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 months ago by theglobetrotter7850
gravatar for Charles Warden
11 months ago by
Charles Warden7.9k
Duarte, CA
Charles Warden7.9k wrote:

In terms of "Should I keep the job or start looking for something else?", I think you want to stay on the best possible terms with everybody. While there can be a variety of reasons to need to move and/or change jobs, seeing if you can change your role with your current employeer (if needed) may be the best first option.

I am still waiting to peer-grade 2 more projects for my Johns Hopkins Cousera "Practical Machine Learning" class. Is this somewhat similar to what you have experienced with your Advanced Academic Program? I apologize, but it was a little hard for me to tell if this was mostly on-campus or mostly on-line. It also makes a big difference if they are describing a cost per course or per degree (I had to check the page twice to notice some of these things).

Point being, I decided to go ahead and convert that from a blog draft to a blog post, in response to your question. While I have many things that I need to think carefully about, I am interested in seeing what feedback that you get.

So, if it might help, you can see that blog post about on-line courses here.

For example, this is a thought / question that might be relevant to this discussion:

If I didn't have any previous experience, I think the on-campus degree programs may have an advantage. However, if I have ~10 years of experience (and essentially the combined equivalent of an MS degree, along with an MA degree from Princeton), then I am not sure if an on-campus degree (or even necessarily an on-line MS degree) is needed for somebody at this stage.

I think this echos sviatoslav.kendall's response in terms of it being desirable to have additional bioinformatics research experience.

Likewise, I have links for my transcripts from on-campus programs on my Google Sites page.

Again, I apologize if I have misunderstood something about the content of your degree program; however, my understanding is that this is an interesting and important discussion topic.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 11 months ago • written 11 months ago by Charles Warden7.9k
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