April 15, 2016 Seminar: A Day in the Life at Merck


Speakers: Dr. Dani Schultz and Dr. Jameson Bothe

Title: “A Day in the Life at Merck for a First Year Chemist: How and Why Two Michigan Grads Chose a Career in Industry”

Dr. Dani Schultz and Dr. Jameson Bothe ventured back to the University of Michigan to speak about their experience at Merck. Dani and Jameson both completed their bachelor’s at University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, Ph.D. from University of Michigan, and post-doc at University of Wisconsin – Madison. Simply put, they are excellent examples of a two-body solution. In the second half of 2014, they were hired at Merck in Rahway, NJ.

Dani and Jameson spoke candidly about the interview process to an eager group of students during an informal breakfast. Of course, the interview process is usually the most stressful period when seeking employment. But, if your resumé makes it to the short list for an on-site interview, you’ll likely be ecstatic (at least until the interview). Dani and Jameson explained the on-site interview initiates with a 1 hour seminar where the interviewee will speak about their work. Dani and Jameson explained that this is your first impression to your interviewers, thus it is important to show who you are and why you should be employed from the get-go. Dani cautioned that the seminar should be ~45-50 minutes in length in order to give some time for discussion and questions. If the seminar is too short or too long, you may confuse or disgruntle your audience. The remainder of the interview day consists of either 1-on-1 meetings or meetings with a panel. These meetings will involve questions pertaining to your technical skills and personality or so-called “human resources” questions. Dani and Jameson advised that a simple and effective way to prepare for such questions is to take some time in order to reflect on your experiences in your life so that you are ready to answer questions pertaining to conflict resolution, group work, leadership, planning, time management, etc.

During the seminar, Dani and Jameson spoke more about Merck in general and their roles within Merck. Dani, an organic chemist, currently works in Global Chemistry which includes process chemistry and discovery. Her primary activities at Merck are optimization and the development of reactions to synthesize a drug candidate, as well as assists in upscaling production of a drug. She works closely with an analytical chemist and chemical engineer on a daily basis. Her day usually consists of lab work and meetings to discuss the project with her scientific advisor and supporting groups. Jameson, an analytical chemist, works in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Clinical Supply. He primarily focuses on formulation of the actual drug that is administered to the patient during clinical trials, as well as tracks the quality of the drug during production, transportation, and administration to ensure safety and efficacy. His day often consists of lab work, recording data, meetings with supporting groups, and working closely with a formulator. They normally work 8-10 hours/day, and typically enjoy the weekends at home.

After the seminar, Dani and Jameson continued to enlighten the audience with a detailed account of their experiences in graduate school and post-doc that facilitated their job preparation. They stressed the importance of building a skill set that showcases abilities to mentor/teach, learn and execute new science, collaborate with peers and other groups, adapt to new environments, keep up-to-date with literature, attend conferences, and seek awards/funding.

On behalf of CALCIUM, we thank Dr. Dani Schultz and Dr. Jameson Bothe for their advice, personal experiences, and CV review sessions. For more information, please see-Handout.