Science Careers: Personal Accounts from the Experts
Edited by Lawrence O. Flowers
The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2003
Reviewed by Marie Louise Bernardo
Lawrence Flowers' intended audience for his book, "Science Careers: Personal Accounts from the Experts" is everyone thinking about science careers. He includes students from high school to graduate school and those already in science careers who are seeking to find a better science career fit. In his introductory chapter, Flowers clearly lays out his conceptualization for the book. Furthermore, he spends considerable time discussing career decision making and references authors in both the popular and the career development literature. He discusses career networking and gives examples, as well as advice, on letter writing and note keeping. Chapter two, written by two educators, is a statistical exploration of science careers. This chapter offers information on salaries, employment trends, and changes in educational requirements. There are bar graphs to speed what might otherwise be a dry recitation of facts. Even for those, like me, who are statistically challenged, this chapter was not difficult to understand.
Chapter Three, which constitutes the bulk of the book, consists of personal accounts from twelve individuals in science careers. As a doctoral candidate in microbiology with masters degrees in both biological science and teaching, Flowers himself is well qualified to speak about the potential richness and opportunity in a science career. Instead, he has chosen representative experts who come from diverse backgrounds and cover a wide range of careers.
Each expert gives a personal account of his or her journey towards the position now held. While each section follows a set format, the reading never becomes routine and remains enjoyable throughout. Furthermore, Flowers did not choose his experts only from among individuals who had an easy or conventional career path. There is enough career path diversity among these experts to give hope to even the most confused searcher! Each contributor writes a biographical sketch then covers six key points relevant to all careers. The points covered are: a description of job duties, advantages of the career, essential related skills for success, additional advice, pitfalls to avoid, and qualifications required.
Chapters one and two, as well as each expert's account, end with short sections for interesting facts, take home points, and suggested readings. The final chapter is a comprehensive resource of career websites, websites specific to a multitude of science careers, and a listing of numerous science professional associations with addresses and phone numbers. Also in this chapter is a list of career networking questions that the individual can pose to his or her career network. There are two forms that the reader may photocopy for private use. One is a networking form with has space for all-important information regarding the networking contact. The other form is designed to help the reader keep track of the pros and cons of various careers and career/life goals.
In summary, Lawrence Flowers's book is an excellent resource for anyone exploring a science career. I would recommend it as a good source for anyone in the exploration stage of career development. Even if one isn't interested in a science career, reading about the decision making process and seeing how real people used (or didn't use!) the process is both informative and comforting. This is a good book!
Marie Louise Bernardo, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and nurse with a private practice for career and life transitions counseling in Fairfield, Connecticut. She is also a freelance writer for "The National Psychologist and The New England Psychologist" and editor/writer of "Transform! A Health and Wellness Newsletter" for the Connecticut Nurses Association. She can be reached at