Are entry-level pharmaceutical research jobs a lost cause?

A look at some recent economic numbers has the BioJobBlogger suggesting that the future may look dim for new PhDs and postdocs who were hoping to find entry-level work in the biotechnology sector.

The Future of Pharmaceutical R&D : Bio Job Blog.

“. . . a majority of the almost 160,000 employees layed off by pharma companies in the past few years have been R&D scientists. . . . Unfortunately, this paradigm shift doesn’t bode well for doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows who are training in the life sciences. This is because many entry-level biotech positions, traditionally filled by newly-minted PhDs and postdoctoral fellows will likely be filled by experienced, pharmaceutical employees who lost their jobs in the recent rounds of layoffs.”

Is this true? Maybe. However, there are a few positive things to consider about entry-level positions:

  1. A lot of people are not interested in taking a step back in their careers and applying for entry-level work if they’re already accomplished and experienced at a higher level.
  2. Companies trying to fill entry-level positions sometimes will not consider more experienced people for these roles. Fairly or not, more experienced candidates can be seen as more difficult to manage and more likely to be unsatisfied with low-level work and salary.
  3. R&D work can be incredibly specific to particular assays and model systems. A newly-minted PhD with the exact skills a company needs may be a better bet than an experienced scientist who has been working on a different system.

So, if you have your heart set on an R&D position in industry, don’t lose hope entirely — although keeping your eyes open for other opportunities is always smart.  One last piece of advice — be mobile!  Being genuinely open to relocation will ensure that you have the most opportunities available to you. Locking yourself down to one location will almost always limit your career trajectory.

Posted: January 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Preclinical R&D | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

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