MENTEE – Clayton Harris

Clayton Harris, PhD student and IMNIS mentee in the MedTech-Pharma Pilot 2016 – La Trobe University (VIC)  [Image: La Trobe University]

“I came into the IMNIS program knowing I had an interest in an industry role but unsure what that role might be. I have left the program with a clear professional goal and I am now more certain of the roles I would enjoy working in”

Clayton Harris is a PhD student at La Trobe University, Albury-Wodonga in the Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution. His PhD project is focussed on dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) leached from Eucalyptus leaves acting as a food source to in-stream food webs. Throughout his PhD Clayton has presented at a number of conferences including the Australian Society for Limnology (ASL) conference, New Zealand 2015 and the Goldschmidt Geochemical conference, Japan 2016. Clayton was also the recipient of the CSIRO Office of the Chief Executive (OCE) top up scholarship 2013-2016 which is awarded to an Australian PhD student in the priority area “Assessing environmental flow requirements of aquatic ecosystems from analyses of the functional community structure of micro-organisms and their role in food webs”. Clayton participated in the MedTech-Pharma Pilot of the IMNIS program in Victoria from 2015-2016. As of 2017 Clayton has now secured full time employment with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science in Canberra.

Why did you participate in the IMNIS program?

Before entering the program, I had always been interested in an industry career, to me it was a career where I could utilize communication and interpersonal skills along with my technical knowledge to enable the transition of good research to market and into the public eye. But with zero industry contacts and extremely limited knowledge of IP and the general functioning of an industry company this seemed to be a career that I might need further qualifications for or that wasn’t applicable to me at all.

What was the most important aspect of this professional relationship for you?

My mentor and I held regular face to face meetings in which we discussed a wide array of topics that are often not addressed at university. Just some of the topics we spoke about included; understanding different personality types, how to network effectively, how to follow up a networking session, answering interview questions effectively, different types of companies within scientific industry and how to set up a CV for an industry position. These sessions were invaluable to me and allowed me the opportunity to develop skills that will make myself more employable.

How often did you meet with your mentor and did you prepare for these meetings? What was the best piece of advice you received?

On average, we met once a month in person but would communicate via telephone and email more often. I would prepare for our meetings by having a list of questions I wanted to ask as well as providing updates to my mentor on suggestions from the previous meeting. One of the best lessons I learnt was to put myself out there as much as possible, network as often as possible and not to be shy about asking someone to meet for a coffee and a chat.

Would you recommend participating in the IMNIS program to your peers?

Absolutely, I could not recommend the IMNIS mentor program enough to those who are considering a career outside of research. The IMNIS team and the mentors are tremendously supportive and as a result I have a stronger understanding of industry, I have made some fantastic contacts and I have set solid career goals for both the end of my studies and for many years to follow.

What was the most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program for you?

I came into the IMNIS program knowing I had an interest in an industry role but unsure what that role might be. I have left the program with a clear professional goal and I am now more certain of the roles I would enjoy working in. This is extremely rewarding for me as I now have a clear set of goals that I am able to work towards not only now but for years to come.

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