On May 18th, 2018, CALC|UM hosted an industry “town hall style” panel geared towards bioanalytical and chemical biology interests. The invited speakers were UM alums: Dr. Joseph Eschweiler from AbbVie (Ruotolo lab PhD graduate, May 2017) and Dr. Jaimeen Majmudar from Pfizer (Martin Lab postdoc, 2012 to 2016). They are both at an early career stage and were able to provide fresh insights about their career path while also sharing their own strategy in getting started with the industry job search.
With many senior graduate students and post-docs in the audience, much of the panel discussion revolved around the job search process. Both panelists applied to few job positions and suggested being very selective about job postings to allow plenty of time to work on a cover letter tailored specifically for that job. While the strength of a CV is important, the cover letter gives you the opportunity to showcase your writing abilities, which may not necessarily be lauded in graduate school, but is still a transferable skill useful in industry.
For instance, Joe shared his experience working as a fellow for UM Tech Transfer Office. In addition to being a great feature on his CV, his time as a tech transfer fellow helped Joe explore the perspective of a different career and cultivate his writing skills, which he currently applies in his role as a Senior Scientist in the New Biological Entities development group. In terms of the interview process, both panelists agreed that the phone interview generally focuses on a candidate’s technical skills and ability to talk about their own research whereas the in-person interview gauges the candidate’s interpersonal skills and ability to fit within the research group hiring.
One major takeaway from this panel discussion was the importance of networking, especially as you begin your industry career. Maintaining and expanding your network during the early career stage is equally as crucial. Both panelists acknowledged the fact that turnover in industry is inevitable but highlighted that the strength of your network will help you be ready for the next job, especially if you work in biopharma research hubs such as Boston.
Overall, this panel discussion provided some guidance into starting an industry job search for people in the bioanalytical or chemical biology fields and gave an insider perspective of skills that are currently in demand.
Moderators: Sugyan Dixit and Melanie Cheung See Kit