Life Science Careers

Life science careersAccording to Toby Freedman, a university life “generally does not prepare individuals for careers in industry”. On the other hand, news this week that a freshman physics class just launched their own company, suggests he might on occasion be wrong. Nevertheless, an academic training is not entirely compatible with a move to the harsh realities of the commercial world and Freedman, who does hold a PhD, which she obtained from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has written a book to help life scientists make the transition.

Career Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development provides a detailed overview of more than 100 careers in the life sciences industry, advice on carrying out a targeted job search, and useful guidance on making the leap from the ivory tower into the commercial lab or non-academic work environment. Of course, I use the phrase “ivory tower” with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek, given the often equally cutthroat environment in which contract research associates work in academia.

Freedman writes from experience as a scientist who transitioned into business as a writer, recruiter, and entrepreneur, and recently launched a life sciences recruiting firm, Synapsis Search, which pairs job candidates with companies.

From the book’s blurb: “Topics cover 20 vocational areas, including research and development, regulatory and medical affairs, sales and marketing, business development, information management, law, executive leadership, consulting, recruiting, and finance. Each chapter includes a discussion of job security, future trends, and potential career paths; specific educational requirements and personality characteristics needed to excel in a chosen profession; recommendations of books, magazines, and Web site resources; and issues to consider regarding salary and compensation.”

3 thoughts on “Life Science Careers”

  1. Nibedita, before sending out any formal job applications I’d recommend running a spellchecker over your text first. Good luck in your search for an “opportunity”.

  2. respected sir i have completed M Phil in Botany and i want to start my career in life science field. If there is any opertunity please contact me.
    with regards nibedita

  3. Timely book and good comments. The ways in which University life fails to prepare one for industry are legion.

    Part of the problem is that very few people at Universities know anything about industry. Of course, many academics think they do know industry, especially if they consult, but industrial scientists know that, most of the time, consulting is simply a way for academics to find good research ideas.

    In some circumstances, of course, consultants really help a lot, and some tremendous consultants do so reliably. To do so, they must be immune to the great academic disease of “changing the problem into one you can solve” instead of solving the difficult problem that has to be dealt with by the industrial scientist.

    However, consulting, whether effective of not, never exposes the consultant to one moment of reality in the industrial world.

    I will add that while it is great that some freshman started a company, it is a lot easier to start a company than to keep one going. I wish them luck.

    I offer these comments as an experienced academic and industrial scientist, and highly experienced consultant.

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