Our first poll
Please try your hand at a brief response to our first Forum poll. Thank you,
Dave Jensen, Moderator
Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum
Well, part of the reason that I have taken an interest in career development in the life sciences is that coming out of grad school I was the poster child for everything that you could do wrong in a job search. (Remember, this was pre-internet, so many of the resources available now did not exist).
I knew that I did not want to spend my life in academia, so I peppered the HR offices of all of the big pharma companies with my resume. The result - dead trees and an occasional "thank you" postcard - no interviews. I ended up getting a post-doc in the lab of a fellow who was the scientific founder of a biotech supply company (restriction enzymes and the like). After a short time, I decided that if he ran his company the way he ran his lab, I wanted no part of it.
Fortunately, my PhD mentor's doctorate was in chemistry, so he did not have the typical academic prejudice against industry that was often found in the life sciences back then. A true quote "Woodward, if you had a shred of personal integrity you would resign from this program. Our purpose is to train scientists for academia, not [prostitutes] for industry." (I will leave it to the reader to guess the somewhat earthier term that was really in the square brackets.)
My major professor got me two interviews through his network. My third interview - and the position that I finally took - was also through his network in a roundabout way. This was my first introduction to the power and importance of networking.
The biggest surprise to me was the amount of other factors than technical skills and knowledge that will actually determine your career. Technical skills and knowledge forms the basis but there is a high number of people that has these and that may be suitable for each available position. Instead factors such as personallity, your professional network and willingness to try something new will have huge impacts on your career. Personally I have gotten every position that I have had through my network.
For me was the wide range of opportunities available.
Key learning was however, I had to go find them, no one was going to come knocking on my door. Sat in many interview seats and held job offers from industry, government, and non-profit sectors. I went calling, and got results.