I am currently realizing that I have made a wrong turn and would love and available advise.

Here is what is going on.  I am a lab technician.  I sometimes enjoy the relaxing repetition of doing the same procedure over and over mindlessly but most of the time, I don't.  The typical step up is to get a PhD and write journal articles while your own lab technician does those procedures.  I don't want that either.

What do I want?  To work for private industry.  To get out of the lab.  To not be directly involved with the lab.  To find a job with more social interact, upward mobility, maybe in more of the business sector.  To not live in a basement apartment without an oven or stove, not replacing my broken computer and still having at 28 to use the credit card that is billed to my father from time to time.

Future plans and interests: I'm fascinated by green roofs and green walls, I look at the open greenspace in business parks and residental areas and think of all of the possible ways that they can be put to use.  I want people to know what a strawberry is supposed to taste like...  I think opportunities in these areas are extremely limited but will not be in the coming years and my current plan is to work my way there, possibly make my own way there by starting a business.

Due to the political climate and whatever other reasons, the USDA doesn't hire permanent employees, so I am temporary.  They have renewed me as long as possible and my time is up in September.  I don't have kids, my car is paid off, it is not completely the end of the world to move home and substitute teach and wait tables but it is far from ideal.  I am forcing myself out of the funk that I have been in thinking about how to find a rich husband while gaining weight and making my chances even less.

My recently rennovated resume (which may possibly need another edit) that is now no longer three pages long and roughly follows the podcast's advise is below.

The question is - What are the opportunities open to me?  What other careers could I pursue?  I look at job postings and get overwhelmed thinking nothing but lab technicianing seems to be an option.



Scottie Lynn Sklanka


Phone #

[email protected]


September 2009 to Present: USDA-ARS, Biological Science Technician, New Orleans, LA

Develops and implements study designs for a research team focusing on Louisiana’s sugar and ethanol industries. Responsibilities include: trail design and setup, laboratory work, data collection, recording keeping, laboratory safety, and other aspects of research. Summarizes and reports data in group meetings and conference presentations.

-Created out of the box solutions to problems occurring during research projects in the areas of juice transport, sample storage, and experiment design.

-Aided in the transition of a new supervisor unfamiliar with past research, assisting her transition while simultaneously learning an unfamiliar field of study.

-Used strong decision making skills for immediate adaptations to research plans when required.

-Received two “Spot Awards” from the USDA given for going above and beyond general work duties.


August 2007 to September 2009: Graduate Research Assistant, Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Research focused on evaluating potential methods of measurement for earlier determination of high yielding feedstocks for use in bioenergy production. Duties included: measured yield, growth rate, and other morphological features while also supervising student workers involved in similar activities. Analyzed and interpreted data which was presented along with their implications in a department wide seminar.


Summer 2008: Intern, Ceres, Inc., Thousand Oaks, California

Applied knowledge gained from coursework to real world applications in a biotechnology lab focused on breeding improved bioenergy feedstocks.


June 2005 to January 2006: Science Intern, Epcot, Walt Disney World

Major duty was giving an hour long “Behind the Seeds” tour to park guests exhibiting part of Walt Disney’s vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and its possibilities of ongoing innovation as applied to urban food production. Personally responsible for maintained a half acre hydroponics greenhouse showcased as part of a Disney attraction.

-Honoree for consistent excellence in diversity awareness and communicate from Walt Disney World.


Part time jobs while at Auburn University:

Lowe’s Garden Center                           Opelika, Alabama

Out in the Garden Nursery                     Auburn, Alabama

Olive Garden                                             Opelika, Alabama


Community Involvement:

Volunteer at Chewacla State Park, Auburn, Alabama.

Member of 504ward a young philanthropist organization in New Orleans and participant in their 504connect program.

Volunteer judge at the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair.

Volunteer with Parkway Partners, an organization committed to community revitalization in New Orleans.

Participated in the USDA’s cultural and diversity programs as well as its community garden.



M.S., Agronomy and Soils – Auburn University      GPA: 3.67        Graduated Spring 2013

B.S., Horticulture – Auburn University                      GPA: 3.10        Graduated Summer 2007

-Recipient of Henry P. Orr Endowment sponsored horticulture trip to France, Spring 2007.

GlennR's picture

Scottie, one thing you might do is get back in touch with the placement office at Auburn. Explain to them you want to change careers. Ask them if they can help you interview with companies such as Archer-Daniels, Monsanto, Dow, or other businesses that interact with your field. Your background may come in useful in sales or support careers. If that is not productive, widen the net to include big Pharma.

View your background in science as an asset as you switch careers.

dad2jnk's picture


Your background in biofuels and sugar cane are in demand right now.  I suggest you widen your net to include BP, Shell, and Syngenta.  I would be very surprised if you do not have a new position within very few months.

Best of luck,  Ken

mmartini's picture
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Hi Scottie,

It pains me to see the brain drain start, but as Congress still cannot pass a budget, none of the agencies will be able to do anything than what you have already seen, they are in permanent limbo.  This is more about being on continuing resolution (our agency now for 10? years) rather then sequester and none of it is your fault.  You are young enough to make the switch.

People with technical skills *and* a good professional demeanor will get hired.  Go for it.  Get the casts on resumes.  Add Mascoma to the list above by dad2jnk. 


jrb3's picture
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You can also reach back to your professors back at Auburn, fellow alumni, and the campus office of technology transfer.  If there's something interesting coming out of the labs into commercial production, they're how you can find out about it.  Maybe one of those projects will serve.

That's exactly how I fell into a startup back in Pasadena CA, testing new protein-structure-prediction software coming out of one of the chemistry dean's labs.  Great stuff, too:  one of our staff researchers took a short lunch break and came back with drug candidates for the just-sequenced SARS virus.  (Demonstrating how to shave a year or so off the drug production cycle.)

You can also network through friends and coworkers to their universities as a somewhat longer shot.  Ditto the local universities' labs and tech-transfer offices.  Ditto other organizations, both in your field and generalist (such as Toastmasters).

-- Joseph

ScottieLynn's picture

I had been looking at Monsanto, Syngenta, and BASF but only focusing on labwork.  I am seeing that I may be somewhat qualified for other positions within the company.  I am just trying to find a position with more upward mobility.  I had not realized you could go back to the university career center after graduation.  I will be doing that ASAP.  It is just so frustrating how everyone is promoting 'STEM' fields and I can't seem to find anything worth pursuing. 

Every job has come so easy before and that just makes it all that much harder physiologically.  That and the difficulty of not being about to walk in and talk to someone face to face, I feel like I make a better impression that way.  But I will find something.  Hopefully soon.

Thank you for your help everyone. 

LReed's picture

Hi Scottie, I'm brand new to this site but have a suggestion for you. Your skills might transfer very well into some sort of construction/building inspection. You can take a class and become certified. Sub-contractor gigs are out there once you are certified although it may take a while to get hired as a permanent employee. A Friend of mine does this and is very happy to be outside each day and responsible to ensure that our buildings are safe. Maybe check out American Concrete Institute for certification programs as a starting point. Good luck!

ScottieLynn's picture

Thank you, I will look into that.  My father has been in commercial construction as long as I can remember and a family friend in concrete as it applies to buildings: condos, etc.  I had not thought about it, but that is definitely worth a closer look.

rthibode's picture

Hi Scottie,

Good advice here already. In case you have not stumbled across it, is an excellent online community for folks in similar situations. Members include people with and without doctorates who will not be working in academia.

Best of luck,


ScottieLynn's picture


I finally had a chance to go through the options on the website.  It was extremely helpful.  I hope to use some of the suggestions for my next job or at least to begin a more long term search once I'm in a more secure position. 

Thank you for posting it,