How to sell yourself and manage your career goals — Webcast

Here in Toronto, the MaRS Discovery District is a biotechnology research hub that was specifically developed to connect the science, business and finance communities.

If there is a biotechnology hub like this near you, it can be a great resource for your job search. MaRS frequently holds events and seminars that allow students and interested members of the public to learn more about all aspects of the biotechnology sector.  One series of lectures, called Entrepreneurship 101, is especially useful for getting a behind-the-scenes look at what’s involved in the operation of a biotech business.

Not in Toronto?  Never fear!  The Entrepreneurship 101 lectures are available for free online as webcasts.

This particular session, “Managing your Career – how to sell yourself and manage your career goals“, is of particular relevance for this blog. Teresa Snelgrove, an executive recruiter specializing in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector, and Frederic Sweeney, a scientist who left the lab to start a career in finance, both share insights into the job search and career development.

You can view the webcast here, and download a PDF of the presentation here (requires a free slideshare registration).

A webcast of a previous version of the same presentation can be viewed here.  You may also want to check out the full archive of Entrepreneurship 101 presentations.


Posted: January 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Education, networking, Resources, Resumes & CVs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

The entrepreneur’s guide to a biotech startup

When you’re applying for a  job in the biotechnology sector, one of the best ways to set yourself apart from the competition is through the knowledge of the industry you bring to the table.

If you’ve ever thought of taking your PhD into the world of high finance, or dreamed of starting your own company someday, then the free e-book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to a Biotech Startup is a must-read — but understanding how all the different parts of a biotech company work together will help you in your biotech career no matter what you do.

No job exists in a vacuum. You may be applying for a job as a preclinical scientist, but if you understand how the work you do at the bench relates to the rest of the company — intellectual property, regulatory affairs, technology transfer and more — then you are in a position to deliver real value.

The Guide is a phenomenal resource for understanding how biotech companies are put together.  The author, Peter Kolchinsky, is a Harvard-trained virologist who finished his PhD and began working as an investment analyst in the biotech sector. The guide clearly explains how biotech firms are built from the ground up, beginning with an idea, and moving chapter by chapter through the business plan, legal issues, staffing, public relations, business development and more, all the way to raising capital and going public with an IPO. The chapters on drug pricing principles and clinical development are fantastic introductions to these fields for anyone exploring a career in health economics or clinical research.

The book closes with a brief note on networking, and I think the closing paragraphs are too good not to share:

“Knowing someone involves more than remembering their face and name. Well-networked people . . . find opportunities to interact with the same people on multiple occasions. Like a finger-drawing on a fogged window, a network must be traced and retraced or else it disappears.”

The best thing about the guide?  It’s free! You just need to register at Evelexa BioResources, a site full of information about biotech ventures, and you’ll be able to download it as a PDF.


Posted: January 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Review: Career Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development

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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: | Filed under: Clinical research, Interviewing, Marketing, Medical Science Liaisons, Preclinical R&D, Regulatory affairs, Resources, Resumes & CVs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

How free trade magazines can give you the edge in your pharmaceutical job search

There is a secret weapon that can help you get on the inside track in your job search, and it’s free.  A wide variety of pharmaceutical trade journals cover every aspect of the industry from early-stage drug design all the way to marketing. Trade journals are basically news magazines with a very specific focus. They contain articles and advertising content that is highly targeted to specific industry niches.  For example, Applied Clinical Trials is focused on clinical research professionals and the challenges of designing and executing clinical trials, whereas Contract Pharma offers content specific to outsourced drug manufacturing.

Many trade journal publishers offer free subscriptions — all you need to do is fill out a form. A number of sites (like this one) allow you to quickly review and sign up for multiple journals.  However, if you don’t meet the publisher’s criteria for a free subscription, don’t despair.  Most of these magazines make their content available free online.

So, how can reading trade publications help you find your first pharmaceutical or biotech job?

  1. In today’s tough economic times, companies aren’t interested in spending a lot of time and money on bringing people up to speed on the basics of their business. Reading the trades can help you understand what’s really involved in the careers that interest you.
  2. If you use the trades to learn the acronyms and buzzwords, and familiarize yourself with key issues and new developments, you’ll be able to hold an intelligent conversation with professionals in the field and make a great first impression at networking events, informational interviews, and in cover letters.
  3. Not only do trade magazines often include job advertisements, but they’re a treasure trove of company information that you can use to identify firms that might have unadvertised openings.
  4. You can follow up with the authors of articles to build your network. Expressing your genuine interest in their article may give you an opening to ask for advice and referrals.

So don’t delay — read a trade today!


Posted: January 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Informational interviews, Resources | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

10 things to look for in an academic Regulatory Affairs program

Signing up for a formal academic program is one way to put yourself on the fast track to a career in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs.

The Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) is a great clearinghouse of information.  If you’re interested in a career in regulatory affairs, it’s a great place to learn more about the role.  Membership isn’t cheap ($185), but it is significantly discounted for current students, and includes a subscription to Regulatory Focus magazine, discounts on educational programs, and access to networking opportunities. RAPS offers online courses that may help give you the knowledge you need to land an entry-level role and maintains a list of degree and certificate programs offered at academic institutions worldwide.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted: January 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Industry associations, Regulatory affairs, Training | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »