Skip to main content

Looking for a job in science with growth potential? Ask these 5 questions.


Exploring new job prospects in science raises many questions. Should I work in Industry or Academia? Which specialty area piques my interest and where are the best jobs in that field? Am I willing to relocate?

Scientists and researchers ask these questions and so many others. But a largely overlooked topic is "professional growth and development." In science, a successful future begins on day one at an organization that’s invested in your career advancement. This is why it’s so important to ask the right questions in a job interview! The next time you’re in an interview, be curious. Be inquisitive. And be sure to ask these five key questions.

1. Do you offer real career ladders?

Before asking this question, it’s important to truly understand what people refer to when discussing "career ladders." Typically, a career ladder describes a professional’s progression from an entry-level position up through higher levels of responsibility within an organization. While not complicated, few companies actually have established, clearly defined career ladders. Make sure your future employer has documented career ladders as well as the ability to create your own career path.

2. Can you tell me about the technologies being utilized and all applicable training?

Every professional in every career area needs to be mindful of the technology trends influencing their field of expertise. This holds especially true for the scientific research community. Your ability to solve global challenges, eradicate deadly diseases, and improve the world is extremely dependent on the technologies available at the workplace – and your employer’s willingness to train you how to use them. To advance, it’s critically important to work with the most current technologies on the market and that your employer provides applicable, robust training.

3. How will my science career development be supported?

If you want to grow your career and gain new experiences, start thinking about career development before your interview. Organizations invested in their employees’ professional growth provide the resources and support needed to succeed at the workplace and within your specialized field of science.

4. Is there flexibility to move across science fields within the organization?

Often, a change of pace brings new ideas, new perspectives, and a chance to reset. And sometimes even the brightest scientific minds require some time away from the lab. That’s why it’s beneficial to join an organization that provides flexibility to move into new career fields as your expertise (and yourself) matures.

5. How will my day-to-day responsibilities advance your company’s mission?

While we list this as the last question, if you’ve secured a job interview the first thing you should do is learn about the organization and its mission. Understanding the primary objective of a company will illuminate your role within in it for both the short- and long-term. Having a clear understanding of an organization’s overarching purpose provides key insights into what you’ll be striving to achieve, both professionally and personally.


Be sure to add these five questions to your interview list – and be sure to consider St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as your next employer.

At St. Jude, science matters.

Dr. Kanneganti and co-workers

Our scientific community helps us achieve our mission to advance cures, and means of prevention, for catastrophic pediatric diseases. Each researcher here makes important contributions to discoveries that ultimately lead to cures. Our specific Scientific Career Ladder enable our people to see how they’ll advance professionally. With every step on each ladder rung, are opportunities to be immersed in one (or many) of our 100+ on-site labs. Our researchers are supported by more than 25 core facilities, including light microscopy and electron microscopy cores that house the most advanced technologies and institutionally supported resources.

Right now, we’re the employer of choice to over 250 faculty investigators – including a Nobel laureate, three Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, and four members of the National Academy of Sciences. Working alongside this level of expertise, it’s impossible not to learn and grow but we leave nothing to chance with regards to your career. At St. Jude you’ll have formal mentorships and training programs and a wide range of opportunities to expand your skill-sets and knowledge base. Our technologically advanced labs combine with our projects and programs to create immense vertical and lateral growth opportunities.

We invite you to become a St. Jude Careers Insider. Being a member of our talent network, you’ll receive our monthly newsletter that features our latest scientific research job openings and other relevant news. Join us.