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EZ Career Advice: Five Laws from the NIH Director

Today is Job Fair day for NIH postdoctoral, research, and clinical fellows - part of Research Festival week at the National Institutes of Health. NIH director Elias Zerhouni opened the festivities by addressing about 200 fresh faces in the main auditorium at the Natcher Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda. He offered five rules for building a successful scientific career:

  1. Get a mentor, especially one with a "why not?" philosophy who will let you try new things
  2. "Don't be afraid to look stupid when you're young" - get out of your comfort zone and network with workers in other disciplines. "The best way to never have a good idea, is to never have a bad idea."
  3. Be tenacious - "Be prepared for a lot of naysaying. If you have a great idea a lot of people will be against it."
  4. Don't shy away from controversy - "The scientific contest is something you should cherish."
  5. Leave room for chance - "The best way to ensure failure is to try to ensure success."

Zerhouni divides the research community into three groups: discoverers/pioneers, team explorers, and early settlers - and "not one is more meritorious than the other."


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