I completed the “Communication for Research Scientists” subject in 2015 as part of my Master of Science (Bioinformatics) degree. I have since done a PhD and am currently employed as a postdoc in Munich, Germany developing computational methods for analysing single-cell RNA-sequencing data. After spending almost 10 years at the University of Melbourne completing Bachelor, Masters and PhD degrees I can confirm that it is one of the most universally useful courses you could ever take. It is an unfortunate fact that only a very small minority of people who complete graduate science degrees will end up with careers in academia. While differential equations or immune biology aren’t required for most jobs, being able to communicate clearly and effectively will be important whatever you end up doing.
Learning how to write a better thesis or academic is important, but it is the other skills that are taught (directly or indirectly) during the course that are truly invaluable. Getting the opportunity to discuss planning meetings, interacting with supervisors and emailing collaborators with fellow students from a range of backgrounds in an open space is something you will never get in another setting. These tips and tricks came in handy during my PhD, in my roles with COMBINE (a national organisation for students in bioinformatics and computational biology) and continue to be useful during my postdoc. I wish I was able to take some of the other science communication subjects and if you get the chance to enrol in any of them please don’t let it slip away!