Building a successful career in the biotechnology industry
is really just a series of transitions from one role to another. But the devil
is in the details—when to make a change, how to create opportunities and who
can be your champion as you pivot. So how do you navigate these factors to keep
your career goals on course?
I recently attended a symposium (presented by the University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Biotechnology Program, of which I’m an alum) that addressed this topic through the lens of one individual with a storied career in the industry. Bob Weiland currently serves on the Board of Directors for CymaBay Therapeutics. He has held various roles, from sales and marketing to operations and strategy, within large, established companies (Abbot, Baxter, Takeda) and smaller ones (Pacira Pharmacueticals). He drew on this wide-ranging experience to provide advice to professionals at all career stages.
Bob began the talk by declaring that there will be points in
your career when you reach a “hard spot” and will need to transition, whether
to a new role, company or even industry, to meet your career goals. He
suggested a good starting point is simply to be thinking about making a change.
But in the same breath he emphasized, “What are you doing about it?” He
identified four distinct actions that you can take to ensure role changes and
career transitions support your professional growth and development.
Do you ever wonder whether you’re on the “right” career path? If you’re in academia, the trajectory you should follow can seem pretty rigid—undergrad degree, PhD, postdoc, PI, and then the elusive tenure. Have you considered that there isn’t a single “correct” path?
That’s the message one of Promega’s Science Writers, Julia Nepper PhD, emphasized when she was interviewed recently on the HelloPhD podcast. The HelloPhD podcast offers advice to help students, postdocs, faculty and scientists navigate the hard questions they face every day related to graduate school and careers in science.
121: A Teenager Goes to Grad School, Julia offered her insight on dealing
with failure and finding a scientific career path that’s right for you. She
also shared her unusual story of starting grad school at age 17 and some of the
unique experiences she had along the way that led her to choose a career in
To listen to this podcast and learn more about HelloPhD, click here.
If you’re a student in a research lab, discussing career options with your PI can be a tricky topic to navigate. Whether real or perceived, many students feel they cannot bring up the subject of a career in industry with their PI because they will lose credibility as a serious researcher. In labs where thinking about careers outside of academia is taboo, students can’t get all the information they need to decide what career path is right for them.
This dilemma became very clear a few weeks ago when I served as a panelist for a career workshop about jobs in industry at the iGEM 2018 Giant Jamboree. The workshop participants were extremely engaged, and we fielded questions well after the official end time. Since I know there are other students who could benefit from information about science-related careers in industry, I’ve compiled some of the questions and answers from the workshop. Continue reading “Building a Career in Science: Academia or Industry?”
I’m a list person. You may know people like me—we are the ones who start compiling a list of items to pack for vacation a month in advance; we wouldn’t be caught in a grocery store without a carefully curated grocery list (often organized by department), and we have been known to write down previously completed items on our to-do list just to experience the satisfaction of crossing them off. The internet is full of lists and I love comparing other people’s checklists against my own to make sure I have what I need.
Some call my list-making zeal a curse, some call it a gift. Whatever you call it, I’d like to share with you my suggestions of items to bring to your next onsite interview (in list form, of course). Whether you are as passionate about lists as I am or not, I think it can help. Packing for an onsite interview in advance can help you feel calm, confident and prepared; which is exactly what an interviewer wants to see. When getting ready for an interview, be sure to pack: Continue reading “Interview Day Checklist”
Want to continue improving your performance at work? Want to make your boss and co-workers truly appreciate you? Lucky for you, tis the season for resolutions and I have some ideas for you. Check out the list below for some easy ideas that can make you and your boss happier in 2014. Do you have more ideas about how to rev your career engine? Share them with us in the comments!
Ask for feedback often. And not just during the company’s formal review period.
Do you remember what it was that first inspired in you your life’s passion for science? Was it collecting bugs, frogs or other creatures as a child? Or maybe that first chemistry set—the one that had your mother hovering behind you with a fire extinguisher. Perhaps it was a parent or teacher that first sparked something in you that never dimmed. Whatever, or whoever, it was that first kindled your interest in science, no doubt there have been times when you wished that someone would offer you some advice on how to navigate through the modern, rapidly changing world of science.
On this past Saturday, I took a trip to my local library on a quest to get just exactly that. To be specific, I was going to check out a copy of Edward O. Wilson’s Letters to a Young Scientist (1). Although I haven’t had time to read more that the first chapter, the advice that he offers at the end of that chapter struck me as good advice to any young (or not so young) person:
As a recruiter I’ve seen a lot of, ahem, interesting job search and interview techniques—everything from wearing a tuxedo print T-shirt to the interview to misspelled names on resumes. Mistakes happen and small mistakes will most likely not cost you your dream job. I’d like to help you eliminate those mistakes. This is the 1st post of a 4-part series on interviewing and job searching. The suggestions below come from many different recruiters who have seen it all.
Creating a resume is typically the first step in a job search. You want a resume that catches manager’s eye, highlights your skills, and convinces recruiters of your superhuman powers (or at least your ability to excel at the job)—in short, you want a Resume Masterpiece. Like all masterpieces, it’s going to take some work. While I can’t do the work for you, I can provide a roadmap to help you avoid the common pitfalls. Previous blog posts have provided some valuable resume suggestions (here and here). Despite the information out there, people are still confused about how to create a stellar resume. Hopefully the list below will help clear up that confusion. Read on for things to avoid so that you can create your very own Resume Masterpiece.