Tales from the Trenches: Career Growth in Biotechnology

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?

Bob Weiland answers a question posed by Michele Smith at the MS Biotech Alumni Symposium.

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.

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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)”

Networking for Scientists Part I: How I Learned to Talk to Strangers

When thinking about career opportunities in science (and in any field really), solid networking skills can be the key factor in determining where and how you’ll be spending your next holiday.  Networking breaks down into two parts: small talk/meeting people and establishing/maintaining job-relevant connections.  Neither of these things are rocket science, but can be particularly difficult depending on your personality. I realized early on that if I wanted to stay up on the latest, unpublished results, if I wanted to find out what other labs were working on, or if I wanted to know who was looking to fill a position before it was listed, I would need to master this skill.  It took lots of practice, but I now consider myself pretty darn good at this networking thing.  I even used the same strategies I used in the science world to build a network in the local music scene and it worked!  In this post, the first of two parts, I will address small talk. Continue reading “Networking for Scientists Part I: How I Learned to Talk to Strangers”

Throwing Bad Money After Bad

We know the importance of social networking. Networking in fact has always been important to finding a good job or in seeking out information and expertise. But those in hiring positions might do well to consider someone at the periphery or outside of their social network, when seeking help. Especially if the new hire is in a decision-making position.

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