Describe your job and what you do on a day-to-day basis.
Essentially, I’m an in-house scientific consultant. On a daily basis, I work with various departments at Ophthotech to answer scientific questions. If, for instance, our commercial team needs to understand how one of our drugs or a competitors’ drug works, I’ll go in and discuss the science with them. I’ve also served on due diligence teams for in-licensing new drug/technologies. In this function, I work with a diverse team to understand how different technologies work. Once we’ve done that, we’ll also determine how much time and effort is needed to develop the technology, and whether we think that the time and energy is worth it.
How did you get your first job out of academia?
I networked…a lot. After earning my Ph.D. I moved in with my parents and made it my full time job to find a job. I told myself that I would take any job that used my scientific skills but did not have me working at the bench. Then for the next 2 months I met with 1-2 people a day and would go to an additional 1-2 industry events per week. It was, remarkably difficult and draining, but at the end of the second month, I had a few potential job offers, had arranged some independent consulting work, and had met with a number of really wonderful people with whom I had life altering conversations.
Tell us about your academic background
I spent 4 years as an undergraduate in a protein crystallography lab, and then worked in a kinetics lab for my Ph.D….i.e. I do biochemistry. For my thesis, I determined the substrate specificity of an enzyme (i.e. why an enzyme chooses certain substrates over other similar substrates).
In my current job, though, the specific work I did in graduate/undergraduate is almost completely irrelevant. In regards to science, I use the fundamentals of biochemistry and my analytical skills all the time, but I also use many of the soft skills I learned in graduate school too. During my time at Michigan, I worked as a sexual health educator. There I honed my listening skills and group working skills, and I use those skills just as often as I use my scientific skills.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking for a job now?
Your next job won’t necessarily be the job you retire with. People change jobs and job titles all the time. Just think of the next step (especially if you are coming from a Ph.D. or master’s program) as one job in a long career of many jobs.
Check out Noah’s LinkedIn here: