The preface of this book informs readers immediately that the intended audience is graduate science students deciding between pursuit of a purely academic career or a career in industry. In reality, I found it also useful for those like myself, scientists looking back at some point in their career trying to be strategic about future career development and desiring to communicate what they have to offer potential employers.
The scientists interviewed in this book come from a variety of academic disciplines, and I found it interesting to see how they arrived in their current roles. These roles ranged from process reliability experts and senior engineers to founders and CEOs of startup companies. The author addresses questions such as how the interviewees were initially attracted to science education, what led them to move out of the lab and into industry, and what gaps were present in their university education that would have been useful in industrial roles. It is essential for scientists entering industry to be able to translate their skill set to the types of problems present in industry. Several scientists voiced the importance of this concept when trying to convince a potential employer to hire you.
A central theme addressed by the author through multiple interviews is the complementary, yet different, roles played by scientists and engineers in industry. These two types of people bring a unique approach and set of questions to problems. The author and several interviewees expressed the importance of understanding and appreciating these subtleties, especially as teams are assembled to solve complex problems.
As I alluded to earlier, I found the book very useful as a mirror to examine my own career and renew my efforts to develop my skills in new roles. For the intended audience, I believe the author has written a very practical, insightful, and actionable reference for students presently pursuing science degrees. I suggest this as a great gift idea for them. It's a short read at 88-pages, and I intend to re-read the book again.
As a graduate student, I had the pleasure to meet Dr. Giltner in person through a seminar he gave at our university and hear about the content of his book before reading it. The seminar was about how to transition as a PhD from an academic to an industrial environment, as a "real life after the doctorate"-like talk. That is essentially what the book is about from a graduate student standpoint. It portrays the path that ten scientists followed, who for different reasons became very successful in their industrial careers, in a typical interview format.
Despite the steady structure of all interviews -interviewee academic background, transition to industry/entrepreneurship, career evolution, and final thoghts/comments- each of the very diverging experiences provides a unique insight to the shift of their careers, making the book very complete as a whole. The main focus of the book is the need of scientists in industry as problem solvers, that is, people who have been trained in dealing with stubborn experiments without much previous knowledge on the topic (and who actually enjoy doing it). Overall, the message appeared to me as "there is no specific way towards success, but there is always a way".
The interviews are abound in good advice and although the interviewees belong to a physics/engineering background, all the great hints are applicable to mostly any discipline. As a graduate student, I have no doubt I will often resort to the book throughout my career to keep picking hints and find new understandings to the interviews. I strongly believe any PhD student would greatly benefit from reading "Turning Science into Things People Need".
I am a career counselor supporting graduate students, and I enjoyed reading Turning Science into Things People Need. The candid responses and information from the respected scientists and their rewarding careers in industry provides real world insights. The graduate student scientists exploring alternative career options to academe will find this book filled with practical and inspiring information on how to successfully transition into the role of an industrial scientist or a successful entrepreneur. I think it will also provide confidence to a new scientist, reinforcing that he/she has more career options than an academic one.
I like what Jack Jewell says about a career, "do whatever excites you at the deepest level...". The leadership of the scientists interviewed for this book is extraordinary. While all the information was important, the skills identification attracted me. Tanja Beshear's commitment and tenacity in achieving her successful science career was inspiring. Of course, I loved her response to what she wished or had done sooner, "career management skills--how to sell yourself, find the best career fit and actively manage your own career".
This book is inspiring and fills a need to the question many graduate students are asking, "what else can I do with my knowledge and talents?"
This book provided great information from the perspective of those who have transitioned from science to industry. The book allows those who have no industry experience to get a feel for what to expect and what is different about working in industry as opposed to a completely scientific or academic setting.