Reflections on My Path from Academia to Industry

My career took a different direction than what I had envisioned in grad school, and that was a good thing.
My career took a different direction than what I had envisioned in grad school, and that was a good thing.

About a year ago, I made the move from academic research to the biotech industry. Leaving academia seemed like a huge risk to take, but it was a positive career change that I only recently realized was a long time in the making.

Before joining Promega, I was a post-doc at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I worked on these fascinating enzymes that add nucleotides to the 3ʹ ends of RNAs, developed a Next-Gen Sequencing assay to measure their activities, discovered a bizarre and novel activity of one of the enzymes, and wrote a patent application.

I love science. Being immersed in a tough problem in the lab and then working as hard as I possibly can to solve it is so rewarding and satisfying to me! I really enjoyed my research project, but I found myself interested in a variety of other science topics. The thought of having my own lab where I worked on the same types of enzymes for 30+ years made me anxious. Why did I feel that way? I attributed it to apprehension of the hard work it would take to establish a lab and get tenure.

Meanwhile, at UW–Madison, we had begun a campus-wide discussion to brainstorm about solutions for sustaining the biomedical research enterprise in the US. I attended almost every meeting and, overall, was left with an ominous feeling. Many scientists clearly loved their work but were frustrated and discouraged by the prospect of losing (or never getting) funding. Is this what I really wanted? I reminded myself of my enthusiasm for science and convinced myself it would be worth it once I had a lab up and running and was mentoring my own students. Continue reading “Reflections on My Path from Academia to Industry”

Pop Quiz: What Scientific Job is Right for You?

Word Quiz on yellow backgroundI used to love taking magazine quizzes to learn more about myself. I thought it would be fun to create a quiz to help you find out what scientific career path may be the best fit for you. Be open-minded while taking the quiz and remember that this is just for fun!

1. My greatest strength is:

a)      My artistry
b)      My perseverance
c)       My attention to detail
d)      My problem solving skills
e)      My personality- I get along with everyone

Continue reading “Pop Quiz: What Scientific Job is Right for You?”

The Biggest Blunders of Job Searching: Part 2 Interviews

Part 2: Interviews

Last month we shared the most typical blunders recruiters see on resumes. Now that your resume is flawless and you are likely going to be interviewed for your dream job, we should move on to the interviews.

Interviewers will not only be assessing your ability to do the job, but also how you will fit in with the company, culture, and team. Make sure you bring your A-game and read on for things to avoid during your interview. Continue reading “The Biggest Blunders of Job Searching: Part 2 Interviews”

Surviving the Job Hunt

So you’re looking for a job.  Maybe you’ve been laid off, downsized, fired, or just finished school. The hunt is now on to find gainful and hopefully meaningful employment. There’s no way around it. Being unemployed is no fun. Trust me, I’ve been there – more than once! 

My first job casualty came after the combined bubble burst of 2000 and 9/11. This bout of unemployment was the longest and the most devastating.  I had never been out of work, a day in my life. I was crushed and didn’t know what to do with myself.  In the beginning I would spend all day every day looking for a job.  I wrote and rewrote my resume, agonizing over every word. Don’t even get me started on versions of my cover letter. Somehow I thought that if I had everything just perfect, I would at least get an interview. I would spend hours combing the different job boards, looking at different company websites, emailing people I knew, and yes (at the time) still checking the Sunday paper. Not only did these efforts leave me exhausted and frustrated, I didn’t get any interviews. 

I quickly learned that in order to be successful I had to structure my day more efficiently, take better care of myself, and have some fun. So after you’ve written your resume and had it reviewed (preferably by a colleague or a recruiter in your industry) here are a couple things you can do to keep your sanity and hopefully find a job.  Continue reading “Surviving the Job Hunt”

Networking for Scientists Part II: How to Get a Job (Hopefully)

Times are hard. Unemployment is high. Networking and maintaining job-relevant connections is more important than ever.  Employers literally get hundreds of applications for each job posting.  One of the most useful ways to make yourself stand out in a crowd (besides things like credentials and resumes) is to have a personal recommendation.  In my last post, I talked about the importance of making small talk (no matter how scary it seems!).  Here, we’ll take it a step further. Once you’ve met new people and added them to your contacts list and perhaps your social networking sites, how can you use these contacts to help you achieve your goals? Continue reading “Networking for Scientists Part II: How to Get a Job (Hopefully)”