Over at ask.metafilter, someone has posed the question “what’s it like to work for a CRO?”
The person asking the question is a university research assistant with a background in cognitive neuroscience and an interest in statistics and applied math.
So far, one excellent answer has been posted. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 12th, 2011 | Author: Headhunter | Filed under: Clinical research, Preclinical R&D | Tags: clinical research associate, contract research organization, CRA, CRO, entry-level | No Comments »
I recently discovered a blog by a medicinal chemist who has shared some interesting career insights. Medicinal chemistry, or pharmaceutical chemistry, is the discipline of designing and synthesizing new drugs, and it can be a very interesting career pathway for chemists looking for a job in the pharma or biotech sector.
In his post “Life with a Drug Discovery CRO“, the author describes what it was like to work for a contract research organization that specialized in combinatorial chemistry, synthesis, scale up and process development on behalf of big pharma clients.
How it worked for us in med chem was we would be presented with a project (in varying detail and with varying amount of leeway in our allotted tasks) with some fixed length of contract. Most were annually renewable and many continued for multiple years. The customers in question were a mix of pharma and start-up: for the established players, we were outsourcing for a project they did not have the internal capacity for (usually because there were more pressing projects and/or synthetic challenges to overcome). For the start-ups, we were their chemistry department.
Posted: June 6th, 2011 | Author: Headhunter | Filed under: Preclinical R&D | Tags: chemist, chemistry, contractresearch, CRO, dayinthelife, medicinalchemistry | No Comments »
About 250,000 scientists are employed by biotech firms in the United States today, and a career in commercial biotech is a goal for many PhDs, post-docs, and undergraduate science students.
Recently Fiona Murray, an associate professor from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, carried out a study of knowledge work in this sector that provides enlightening reading for those interested in a biotech career.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 28th, 2009 | Author: Headhunter | Filed under: Preclinical R&D | Tags: biotech, career, management, salary, scientist, skills, technician | No Comments »
Here’s another great resource for your pharmaceutical job search: Career Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development, by Toby Freedman.
Freedman has put together a solid resource for finding jobs and developing your career in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. At 409 hardcover pages, this isn’t the kind of book you can slip in a pocket to browse on the subway — it’s a comprehensive guide that I could see being an invaluable aide to finding your first job in the biotech industry.
Early chapters on resume writing and interview techniques, including informational interviewing, are brief but well-written and useful. If you’ve read a lot of career guides, these chapters probably aren’t going to teach you anything you haven’t heard before. The real meat of this book is the industry-specific information that follows.
In an excellent overview chapter, Freedman explains the breadth of the industry, and summarizes the different product development pathways followed by therapeutic, nontherapeutic, and medical device companies.
Next, individual chapters, each about 20 pages long, cover a wide range of career pathways: drug discovery, preclinical research, project management, clinical development, medical affairs, regulatory affairs, quality assurance and quality control, operations, product development, business development, sales, marketing, and corporate communications. Chapters on executive management, legal affairs, finance, management consulting and even recruiting round out this comprehensive guide.
Each chapter includes ‘snapshots’ of various roles and offers a thoughtful analysis of both the positive and negative aspects of a given job. For example, in clinical development, Freedman notes that “Original and applied clinical research is exciting. Outcomes are unknown until trials are completed, and each trial is unique. Your work is close to the market”, but “There is frequent pressure to meet constantly looming deadlines, and the objectives often seem to be ‘too much, too soon, with too little'”. When you’re just starting out, and trying to decide what path to follow, knowing the downside of a job can be very useful information.
Naturally, salaries and compensation are a matter for discussion, as is the potential for career development, and a look at how future trends might influence job security for each role is useful in today’s economic times.
Perhaps most usefully for job seekers, Freedman clearly lays out job requirements and typical pathways into the role, and offers tips that could be helpful for getting one’s foot in the door. Descriptions of what it takes to excel in a role, and qualities common to good candidates are also helpful.
This guide isn’t cheap, and it isn’t very portable — but if you are looking for a career in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector, this book should be at your side.
Posted: January 14th, 2009 | Author: Headhunter | Filed under: Clinical research, Interviewing, Marketing, Medical Science Liaisons, Preclinical R&D, Regulatory affairs, Resources, Resumes & CVs | Tags: biotechnology, book review, career, freedman, jobsearch | No Comments »
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: Headhunter | Filed under: Preclinical R&D | Tags: assaydevelopment, career, jobsearch, labwork, nonclinical, preclinical, R&D, research, scientist | No Comments »