For a PhD-trained scientist, transitioning to a career in science policy can seem daunting. It may be unclear which skills are most needed and how to best acquire them. To assist students interested in this field, the Scientific Citizenship Initiative conducted a study over the summer of 2019 to identify skills and experiences that lead to a successful career in science policy. The findings of this report are based on semi-structured interviews with individuals working in various science policy sectors. The participants represent a diverse set of academic backgrounds, including a variety of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) PhDs and those with degrees in, or related to, public policy.
Report Completed 2020
Report Findings. Among respondents, the most important skills needed for career success in science policy were communication abilities, both oral and written. Study participants frequently discussed the necessity of humility and respect to ensure a successful transition from academia to science policy. Virtually all respondents actively participated in extracurricular activities during their time in graduate school. They identified these activities, especially internships and fellowships outside of academia, as important elements for a successful transition to a career in science policy.
Next Steps. The findings of this report informed the development of SCi’s flagship experiential learning program: the Massachusetts Summer Science and Technology Policy Fellowship.