How to get experience in Science Communication
Speaking to people across the sector, there are no direct routes into a science communication career, no particularly easy rides. You need to work hard and make yourself available as much as you possibly can.
You could enrol onto one of the many formal BSc and MSc courses in Science Communication. This will enable you to learn the specific skills involved and to get a certificate at the end of it. The courses may even allow you to make contacts that can help you with the next stage of your career.
However, whatever science communication career you want, gaining experience in it is key, especially to get you started. The best way of doing that? Just get stuck in!
Where could you start?
- Study for a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) degree. A formal science qualification is often beneficial or required for science communication jobs.
- Get involved with outreach activities offered by your university. Many, if not most, university science departments are encouraged to deliver outreach activities to schools and the general public. They usually need volunteers....so be one of them!
- Get a job at a science centre. Centres often recruit part-time and full-time science students or graduates, and often provide training.
- Help out at science festivals. Check out our science festival list. They often call out for workers or volunteers in the run up to the event.
- Take part in local schemes, activities and projects involving local schools. Sometimes these are run to encourage graduates into teaching or to encourage school children to take up science.
- Check out university clubs and societies at your Student Union. Getting involved with community and volunteering projects involving children or tutoring A level students; or perhaps writing or reporting for the university's newspaper or radio station would allow you to gain valuable insight and skills.
- Work or volunteer for science communication organisations like Lab in A Lorry
- Offer free science workshops or talks at your local museum, school or local cubs and brownies groups.
- Write a blog, make a podcast or tweet about areas you're interested in.
- Become a STEM Ambassador.
- Most importantly: get involved in as many science communication activities as possible by saying Yes when asked to help, and to offer if you are not!
Generally, it can be easy to get experience if you ask the right people the right questions. However, don't expect to be paid. You might be lucky though, some of the options above come with travel expenses reimbursed, or even an hourly wage.
Other schemes and groups you could be involved with are:
Many learned societies and funding bodies offer grants for people who have good ideas for science outreach; just finding out what it is that you really want to do is the main thing, then all you need to do is get the experience - and of course the funding - that gets you in the front door. Try these out for a start - Society of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics, British Science Association and Science and Technology Funding Council.