How to Deal with Adversity – Still I Rise

Learnings and advice can be received in various ways. The best advice I got about how to deal with adversity was via a poem written by Maya Angelou who passed away on May 28, 2014.

You can read the poem below or you can listen to Maya herself reciting “Still I Rise”.

How to deal with adversity - Still I Rise

Listen to Maya Angelou reciting ‘Still I Rise’

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou1928 – 2014
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou

What is the best advice you have received?

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author, consultant and speaker. She works as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her blog b4iapply has been recommended by The Guardian for professional development.

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Is Stress an Enemy or a Friend?

Are you among those who believe that stress is bad for you and your performance?

Watch this inspiring TED talk that can make you change the way your perceive stress
How to Make Stress Your Friend

How to Make Stress Your Friend

How You Think About Stress Matters

 

What did you find useful from this talk?

Please share your experience so others can learn.

 

 

 

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author, consultant and speaker. She works as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her blog b4iapply has been recommended by The Guardian for professional development.

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If You Don’t Understand, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

A  few months ago a friend of mine asked me to have a look at the statements from her private pension fund because it was not clear what the returns and the charges for the service were. I reviewed the documents as well and I couldn’t understand them either.

I advised her to call the fund and ask for clarification. She found out that the commissions were so high that it didn’t make sense to continue investing. The result: She exited this investment to cut her losses. She wished she had done it many years earlier.

We all have been in a situation when we don’t understand something but we are afraid to ask.Why? Because we don’t want to look inexperienced, uninformed or even stupid.

When you don't understand, ask questions

When you don’t understand, ask questions

To build your confidence, it would help to do some research beforehand to understand the basics-  you can find plenty of information online.

In this way, you will able to ask the person you consider an ‘expert’ more advanced questions.  You will also get a feel whether he/she really masters the topic.

So, next time you don’t understand your bank statement, your electricity bill or your mortgage payments, make sure you ask somebody to explain it to you.

If you still can’t get it, either

  • they cannot communicate it clearly, or
  • there is something wrong.

Be persistent until you are satisfied with the response. Whether you like what you hear or not, it is better to know where you stand because you may be able to do something about it.

The bottom line: Devote your energy to understand the things that really matter. Get into the habit of asking questions for topics that you may not feel comfortable (e.g. your finances, health care issues, etc). This attitude will pay off in the long run.

Have you been in a similar situation? What did you do?

Please share your experience so others can learn.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author, consultant and speaker. She works as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her blog b4iapply has been recommended by The Guardian for professional development.

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How Can Science Graduates Actually Have Successful Careers

Korina Karampela talks to Lauren Celano – Founder and CEO of Propel Careers – about how science graduates can improve their career prospects.

  • There is a lot of discussion whether in the current economic environment people are better off being ‘experts in a specific field’  vs. ‘generalists’. What is your opinion?

Expertise builds and defines your “professional brand” and can create job security. This allows you become the “go-to” person for a specific task – i.e. ELISA assay development, cell culture, statistics, etc.  Equally important though, is the ability to adapt, learn new skills, work well with others, and appreciate areas outside of your expertise. Ultimately, the value of being a generalist or an expert depends upon the type of role and company a person is looking to work for. 

Take for example a large company with thousands of people, each with different skills that together make up a well rounded team.  These companies hire people for their expertise.

Compare this with an entrepreneurial company, i.e. a 15 person biotech company. While you may be hired for your expertise, (cell culture and assay development), you will quickly find yourself taking on new tasks and developing skills – communicating with partners, interacting with vendors, preparing the research lab budget, hiring new employees, etc.

In this situation, excelling in your area of expertise is not enough – you need to stretch yourself and contribute meaningfully to areas outside of your core expertise – this is critical for success. So, in summary, if you are an expert or a generalist, you will be most successful if you narrow your search to roles that value your skill set.

  • What is the most common mistake that people with strong scientific backgrounds do during their job search? 

I think they don’t appreciate all of the potential career options and companies that could be a fit for them.  Scientists are trained to do research on a very specific topic, therefore many don’t realize they can do so much more.  For example, a Ph.D. scientist with a degree in Biology can certainly apply for a bench research scientist role at a large pharmaceutical or biotech company.

Career options for scientists

“it is important to find ways to apply existing skills to new areas” says Lauren Celano

In addition, there are many scientific roles at non-profit organizations, disease foundations, chemical/consumer goods companies, contract research organizations, academic institutions and the government. Also, many roles exist that utilize a scientific foundation, but are not bench research based, such as market research, consulting, medical science liaison, clinical research, medical affairs, etc.

Hundreds of options exist. To be more informed, scientists should reflect on what really makes them happy, and not just what they can do.  Additionally, they should do informational interviews to learn about what is available and what role(s), companies, and career paths may be the best fit.

Ideally, they should start their search a year or more before they are ready to graduate, to give themselves enough time to learn about all of the available career options.

  • Knowledge becomes obsolete at a very fast rate. How can people with scientific and technical expertise do to ensure long-term employability?

For long term employability, they should familiarize themselves with trends in research and be at the cutting edge of a new area.  For example, personalized medicine, next generation sequencing, and bioinformatics are all growing areas.  Areas such as reimbursement and pharmacoeconomics are growing, and companies understand the pricing and economic landscape surrounding technology development.

I also think it is important to find ways to apply existing skills to new areas.  For example, a scientist with experience using microfluidics for cancer diagnostics could apply the technology to other diagnostic areas, such as CNS diseases or food diagnostics to test for salmonella contamination.

  •  What are the 3 ‘Dos’ and 3 ‘Don’ts’ scientists who want to improve their job prospects need to be aware of?

The Do’s are:

  1. Do Network.  Many people are hired because of a referral, so find ways to connect with people relevant to your area(s) of interest
  2. Do informational interviewing to learn about roles, companies, and career paths. This will help you focus on the roles that are really a fit for you.
  3. Do tailor your resume for each role that you apply for and remember that your resume should tell a story about your experiences – it is not a list of everything you have done.

The Don’ts are:

  1. Don’t send your resume to hundreds of places without making sure that the company and role is a fit.  This shows that you are not serious about your search.
  2. Don’t send the same resume to all jobs you apply for.  Make sure you tailor each document and cover letter for each role.
  3. Don’t assume that because you are highly trained and have a good scientific pedigree that you will be hired for jobs that you are not well qualified for.  Actively build skills, if you need to, so that you can become competitive for roles you are interested in.

The bottom line:  There are many opportunities around for those science graduates who continue to be at the cutting edge in their field and position themselves accordingly.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author, consultant and speaker. She works as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her blog b4iapply has been recommended by The Guardian for professional development.

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The Most-Read Articles of 2013

While 2012 was the year that b4iapply focused on helping undergraduates improve their education and career choices, in 2013 the articles were targeted to successful managers who either want to advance their career further or consider making a change.

The response was very positive. We have long passed the 25,000 hits milestone!

In this, our final post of 2013, we’ ve gathered the most-read b4iapply of 2013.

The 5 most-read articles of 2013

The 5 most-read articles of 2013

The Top Five Articles are:

  1. Five Tips to Deal with Mid-Life Crisis
  2. When Not to Give Up
  3. Is It Worth Doing an MBA? Part I
  4. How to Spot a Bad Mentor
  5. How to Reinvent Yourself for a Successful Career Change

We’d also like to take the opportunity to thank all the people who were willing to be interviewed and shared with us their experiences.

The list is long:

A big thank you to all of you. Let us know in the comments what topics you’re itching to explore in 2014. Make sure to sign up to have our articles delivered directly to your inbox. It seems that next year is going to be a great year too.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author, consultant and speaker. She works as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her blog b4iapply has been recommended by The Guardian for professional development.

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The Number One Mistake to Avoid During An Interview

I had a very interesting (although not pleasant) experience while I interviewed a candidate last week. For the purposes of this post, let’s call him Michael.

Meet Michael – Michael had good credentials, high energy and a pleasant personality. He was short-listed for the 2nd round. After we talked for a few minutes about the general stuff, I wanted to know  more about his experience.

When I asked questions about how he dealt with certain situations, I got general responses. I probed for specific examples. I was certain he had encountered similar situations in the past and I wanted to get out the ‘hidden gems’.

Michael though, instead of cooperating became defensive and emotional. The situation became awkward. I believed that he could do the job but I had real concerns about how he would react under pressure.

Interviews are stressful for all the parties involved. The interviewees want to communicate their skills and experience in the best possible way; the more they want the job, the more stressed they are. On the other hand, the interviewers want to identify the best possible talent that would fit their organization. Especially for small companies, a hiring choice can make a team successful or not. Because  there is a lot at stake, emotions run high.

What not to do in an interview

Be calm and positive even if you are out of your comfort zone

Nevertheless, the number one mistake to avoid during the interview process is to become defensive and emotional. Be prepared that employers would like to see how you react when things don’t happen as you have planned.

Even if they are not certain whether you have all the necessary skills, most of them can be addressed by training. And I am firm believer that because you haven’t done something in the past, it doesn’t mean that you cannot do it in the future. Everything depends on how motivated you are.

However, if employers have concerns about how you react when you are under pressure or whether you will be difficult to work with, then these are much more difficult to fix.

Recruitment is a bit like marriage. You go forward because you believe there is a good fit, although you are never 100% certain whether it will work out or not in the long run. If though you have question marks in your mind, then you will be better off not to proceed. In a business setting, it is more probable that there are other candidates (unlike in a marriage).

The bottom line: It is important to show that you have the skills to do the job. It is equally important though to show employers that you can deal with stressful situations and you will not be difficult to work with. So, even if you are outside your comfort zone during an interview, keep calm and positive and don’t become defensive.

What do you think is the worst mistake somebody can make during an interview? Please share your thoughts.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author of 2 books, consultant and speaker. She has been working in senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 12 years and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her b4iapply blog is recommended by The Guardian for professional development.

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b4iapply to college: FREE to Download until Monday Sep 23

Hello b4iapply readers,

I am happy to announce that the ‘b4iapply to college ebook will be FREE to download until this Monday September 23. Please share this message with anybody who might benefit.

Thank you all,

Korina Karampelab4iapply

Founder of b4iapply

Posted in b4iapply guide for parents, b4iapply to college, Before I apply, Higher Education, What to study | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment