Describe your job and what you do on a day-to-day basis.
I’m in the medical communications field. Our clients are pharmaceutical and medical device companies, which include big pharma, as well as small biotechs, and we can be brought on at different stages of a drug or medical device lifecycle (pre-launch, launch, post-launch active marketing, market maturity). We assist in developing a product differentiation strategy that is grounded in scientific data, key opinion leader engagement, and competitive landscape analyses. We create content that is aligned with the scientific strategy, and tailor our deliverables to the needs of pertinent audiences (physicians, scientists, hospital administrators, value analysis committees etc). Much of our work is directed at educating physicians about a disease state, the unmet needs in a therapeutic area, and informing them of the benefits and risks of new therapies.
Our deliverables are varied, and include everything from word documents and PowerPoint presentations to congress booth panels and virtual reality videos demonstrating the mechanism of action of a drug. With each project, I work in an assigned team, comprised of members from the accounts, creative, editorial, and finance departments. My day-to-day job varies, depending on the project. On any given day, I could be researching clinical trials, talking a client through an outline for a deliverable, discussing visually impactful ways of presenting scientific data with our creative team, working on identifying key opinion leaders, or attending an advisory board.
How did you get your first job out of academia?
This is my first job out of academia. I met representatives from my current company at a recruiting event at my postdoc institution, applied for the position, went through a long interview process, and got the position.
This is, without a doubt, a much abbreviated version; my actual job search lasted >12 months.
Tell us about your academic background
I received both my undergraduate (BS, Biology and Philosophy) and graduate degrees (PhD, Microbiology and Immunology) from the University of Michigan, and I went on to do a postdoc at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Microbiology). I’ve always been fascinated by viruses, and so I naturally gravitated in that direction. My research over the years had focused on identifying host factors that contribute to morbidity and mortality during viral infections.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking for a job now?
Network – even/especially if it seems scary! My job search didn’t gain traction until I started conducting informational interviews. These were 20 minute conversations over the phone or in person over coffee. Often, people are more than willing to share their experience with you. I have spoken to patent lawyers, a legislative assistant, an economist, a health policy professor, a senior project manager at a non-profit, and numerous others. This list may appear haphazard, but these conversations exposed me to diverse career paths, and helped me figure out what it is I wanted to do (and I got to meet really cool people).
Needless to say, please always be appreciative and respectful of other people’s time.