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I grew up in the Midwest but want to work in biotech. Do I have to move to one of the large coastal hub areas like Boston or San Francisco?  

 

Pan
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January 3, 2019 4:02 pm  

I grew up in the Midwest but want to work in biotech. Do I have to move to one of the large coastal hub areas like Boston or San Francisco?


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Dave Jensen
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January 3, 2019 4:03 pm  

The job market is much smaller in the non-hubs. There are a lot of regions out there who talk about biotechnology, but they are often ‘wannabe's’ who will never be able to create a real hub. Still, there are good jobs available in the smaller non-hub regions. But clearly, there are obvious shortcomings. The biggest shortcoming is that if you need to make a job change, you’ll have a much smaller circle of opportunities locally. If you live in San Francisco or Boston, you can make a job change without changing your zip code. But not so in some smaller region, where you will face a much more difficult job search and may in fact have to leave the area.

 

Many who choose to remain in non-hubs do so because of strong personal and/or family ties to a region of the country. No amount of salary or name recognition in San Francisco will compensate for not being able to drive to see the parents for a Sunday evening dinner. Also, while non-hub scientists complain about a shortage of companies, non-hub companies legitimately complain about a lack of applicants...let alone qualified applicants. That amounts to a local market advantage for the non-hub job seeker!

Dave Jensen, Moderator

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum


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Jen
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January 3, 2019 4:04 pm  

Agree with the comments, but also worth noting the costs of living are so high in the coastal biotech zones!

While salaries are going to be lower in non-hubs, the ratio of non-hub salary to non-hub cost-of-living is usually much better than in pricey urban coastal hubs. 70K/year will get you much farther in Cleveland than 100K/year in San Francisco.

In a non-hub, it is much easier to become known on a first-name basis by people in local companies. If you are good, than it is surprisingly easy to know what's up with every company. Non-hub cities are like small towns. Everybody knows everybody. As long as you use that to your advantage, you can survive and thrive in the non-hub world.


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Dave Jensen
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January 7, 2019 5:56 pm  

Thanks Jen for visiting. I agree with your thoughts here. Money goes a lot further in the non-hubs, that's for sure. I guess (as in every other situation) it depends on the personal feelings of a person making the move, and whether they want to live in the city on the coast for other reasons. It's certainly do-able, you just may need to think a bit differently about how you live and the investments you make in "stuff" (like cars, etc).

Dave

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
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Cory
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January 16, 2019 6:34 pm  

Jen,

Funny that you should mention Cleveland, the city I've called home for the last seven years. 

I think there is one other subtle aspect to the non-hub scientific career that's worth paying attention to - the more general/broad one's skill set, the easier it is to make a science "life" outside of Boston/San Fran.   The risk of dislocation rises with the degree of specialization and infrastructure requirements.  For example, better to be a molecular biologist in Cleveland than to be a specialist in Cryo-EM structural biology. 

I've been a non-hub person in my career and it did lead to a "forced" relocation but I can't say that things have turned out badly.


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Dave Jensen
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January 16, 2019 11:43 pm  

Hi tellicherry and Jen -- we may have a little Cleveland sub-group going here!

I'm from the Cleveland area as well. While the promised biotechnology cluster really never came about as Cleveland thought it would (based around Cleveland Clinic), it is a great city with a vibrant culture and sports scene and just great residents. Sorry to say, the weather doesn't match up to the positives, and this is now why I am in AZ!

Dave Jensen

This post was modified 5 months ago 2 times by Dave Jensen

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
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Iain
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January 17, 2019 4:36 pm  

I can recommend a good book (Dave, is that allowed on the forum ?). Not that I think you can learn everything about networking from a book, but I did find it helpful in getting started.

On a slight tangent, I work in biotech in Ann Arbor. I have a huge problem persuading candidates to move here, so "local" candidates are always appreciated, as long as the have the requisite skills etc.


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Dave Jensen
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January 17, 2019 6:12 pm  
Posted by: Iain

I can recommend a good book (Dave, is that allowed on the forum ?). Not that I think you can learn everything about networking from a book, but I did find it helpful in getting started.

On a slight tangent, I work in biotech in Ann Arbor. I have a huge problem persuading candidates to move here, so "local" candidates are always appreciated, as long as the have the requisite skills etc.

Iain -- No problems, would love book reviews or book recommendations on the Forum! My company has an office in Ann Arbor, run by Ryan Raver, a PhD molecular biologist and former Badger from Madison. He must like the cold weather.  But it's a great town, and I was just at the Plant and Animal Genome meeting in San Diego and there were like four or five companies exhibiting there who are from the Ann Arbor area. Seems like the region is developing the way Madison did, into a tools and services cluster.   

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum


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Iain
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January 17, 2019 7:28 pm  

Ah, well let me know if you're ever in the area Dave ! Yeah, there are some interesting startups emerging here. 

The book is "Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected" by Devora Zack. Hope this helps.


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