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Life After Graduate School: Career Topics for Graduate Students and Postdocs: Biotech/Industry or Academia? Searching for Jobs Applications Interviews.

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Presentation on theme: "Life After Graduate School: Career Topics for Graduate Students and Postdocs: Biotech/Industry or Academia? Searching for Jobs Applications Interviews."— Presentation transcript:

1 Life After Graduate School: Career Topics for Graduate Students and Postdocs: Biotech/Industry or Academia? Searching for Jobs Applications Interviews Negotiations

2 What’s the Future? Note that unemployment rate among Ph.D.s is very low- 1.6% in 1997 1/3 of all Ph.D.s now work in industry Broad training is increasingly required Other skills you learn in grad school are increasingly important to your future Communication skills- esp. writing Ability to work in a team Use of information technology Systems Biology

3 Postdoctoral Jobs Can be in industry or academia

4 Factors To Consider When Choosing a Postdoc
You are choosing the field you will be starting your own lab in- make sure there is growth opportunity (ie a niche for you) Small labs vs big labs- each have advantages and disadvantages- visit both Designated job or freedom to explore? Industry or academia? Aim high! You need to identify the labs by yourself! Aks your advisor for recommendations

5 Searching for Postdocs
You should leave your institution in order to grow Identify three to six labs, in geographic areas you would consider, who work on topics of interest to you Funded investigators (check CRISP) Productive investigators (check Pub-Med) Don’t just respond to ads!

6 Searching for Postdocs
Send a CV and a cover letter to these labs with an approximate time frame for Ph.D. Start a year ahead Remember that few actually graduate on time Aim high- very good labs, not just a job You will most likely be asked to interview If you cannot interview, arrange to meet the PI or members of his lab at a meeting Be persistent!

7 Choosing a Postdoc Staying in the same field as your grad work provides continuity: you already know the field as well as some of your future reviewers Choose a change in technique or system/organism but not both Get broad training but also specialize in something specific


9 Postdoc at NIH? Advantages Disadvantages
Good financial resources and state-of the art equipment Good intellectual resources: synergy Stimulating metropolitan area Salaries higher than elsewhere No grant writing Disadvantages Physical crowding No grant writing- difficult to prepare for academia! Guide to find mentors:

10 The Postdoc Cover Letter
No more than ½ to 1 page Describe your current area of research in a few sentences Describe what you would like to learn Ask to be considered for a position Say when you will be ready Remember the postdoc market is excellent: you will most likely have many offers! Having 1-2 publications will increase the number

11 The Curriculum Vitae Provides a clear record of your educational and research accomplishments Standard format includes: Your name and the DATE! Personal information (contact address and info) Educational history Honors and Fellowships Teaching Experience (if appropriate) Grant and research support (if appropriate)

12 The Curriculum Vitae, II
Membership in professional societies Invited lectures (if appropriate) Research and Publications Some formats list only the publications followed by the abstracts Others intersperse this information with a concise summary of what the work showed Optional Personal interests (biking, fishing) (no) Techniques mastered (PCR, immunocytochemistry) (yes) References (at least three, up to five) NO TYPOS!

13 Letters of Recommendation
Thesis advisor - mandatory Prominent faculty member in Dept? Any faculty you have interacted with-? Collaborators? Ask referees if they can write a positive letter; if you have any doubts, then do not use the referee (some fellowships require top scoring)

14 Interviewing for a Postdoc
You may be asked to give a talk (50%) Ask other lab members what the PI’s style is Know your own style- hands-off? Interactive? Find out where former lab members are now Don’t ask about salary: it will be in your offer

15 After the Interview Send thank-you with a time frame for your decision if you already have an offer Make your decision; involve your committee members if you have questions Let the other places know RIGHT AWAY (you are taking a spot away from someone else!) Plan to write an NIH postdoc grant 9 months ahead if you are a US citizen or have a green card

16 Negotiating a Postdoc Position
If there is a job you want and you have not heard yet, but you do have other offers, tactfully contact the PI/institution and explain that you need to make a decision Most likely you will then receive an offer It is unusual to request more money for a postdoc: generally the PI pays what he/she can afford/thinks is competitive with the others in the lab

17 Postdoc Salaries Formerly: $28,260 for entry-level postdocs, rising to $44,412 for those with at least seven years' experience. New NIH guidelines Mar : start at $35,568; 3 yrs is $43,428; 7 years experience is now $51,036 (it will take up to 5 years for source grants to catch up!) Note that at NIH staff fellowships often pay more: there is a big range depending on source! Equipment, technical assistance, professional travel, or “any other activity directly related to the Fellow's research” may also be supported by some sources

18 Postdoctoral Training Grants
You need to show you will experience professional growth Go to another institution Learn other techniques or a new field

19 Postdoctoral Training Grants
Identify a postdoctoral mentor One year or more before anticipated graduation Be proactive- most people are looking for fellows Submit your proposal well before moving Success elements - in order of priority Your mentor’s reputation (pubs, grants,status) Your own accomplishments (grades, pubs) Training plan (courses, techniques to be learned) Research plan (clear, doable) There are 3 deadlines a year-Jan 10, May 10 and Sept 10 for Kirschstein awards

20 Postdoctoral Training Grants
Project Should be doable and limited Should provide training expertise Need not be extensive Your qualifications Recommendations extremely important Top 5-10% Grad school GPA 3.0 and above Publications (1-2) and presentations (2)

21 How Long Should It Take To Write?
It’s only 10 pages- give yourself one month maximum! Get forms from Discuss ideas with future mentor and read papers Write! Make sure PI will be in the office to do his/her part In the last week, focus full-time on proofing etc. Remember institutional deadlines (mentor’s) precede NIH’s

22 Writing a Successful Proposal
Background and Specific Aims Must persuade reviewer of need for work Experimental Design Must persuade reviewer of your ability to think, anticipate problems, design experiments Less is more- do not propose 5 years of work! Have 3 people read and critique your proposal

23 Postdoctoral Funding Opportunities
NIH individual grant NIH training grant Many, many other sources- disease-related AHA and ACS are the largest NIH research training opportunities National Academies' report Howard Hughes Medical Institute Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Burroughs Wellcome Fund Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

24 Other Postdoc Resources
See COSEPUP document: National Organization of Postdocs website There are currently 40,000 postdocs!



27 Biotechnology and Industry


29 What are the salaries? Note different scales

30 Advantages and Disadvantages of Biotech
Higher salaries-perhaps twice if postdoc (60-70k); also many other perks- stock options, bonuses etc Well-equipped facilities Focused work environment Disadvantages You may find an interesting phenomenon and not be permitted to explore it, if it is not relevant to company goals You must put your group’s interests ahead of your personal interests: teamwork effort

31 Hiring Trends in Industry
Multidisciplinary training very useful Molecular biology and business Chemistry and law Life sciences and programming Conversely some specialized areas are hot Proteomics, genomics, drug discovery, medicinal chemists Industrial specializations such as formulations, product development and process scientists, clinical project managers, regulatory affairs Systems biology

32 Biotech or Industry? Note that some industrial companies are giant pharmaceutical or chemical companies and others are startups with employees How will you fit into existing culture? Can you live with insecurity of small company? Biotech companies are smaller but risk is higher

33 Biotech 3,000 firms were polled in 2003 Increase of 12% in hiring
90% have 500 or fewer employees Most located in six states See US Dept of Commerce Report

34 Biotech Jobs Market is tough in years when venture capital is low
Use every resource to locate positions Networking; meetings; online sites; journal ads; headhunters Make sure you are a match for the job before applying There is no substitute for the personal contact Many companies create positions in December to hire in January


36 Applying to Biotech, II Do a postdoc in biotech if you think you want to work in biotech- it makes you more competitive to have industry experience (ask about advancement) Make contacts within the company at meetings if possible- ask people who come to your poster (and go to theirs!) about opportunities at their company Finding a good biotech job at the Ph.D. level is equally difficult as finding an academic position!

37 The Biotech Resume Is different than the academic CV: 2-3 pages, not 5-6 -even for mature scientist Use key words- technologies you have used Relate your accomplishments, not your skills- use brief, 25-word descriptions of how you put the “key word” items into practice Must persuade that you have the abilities that will help achieve corporate goals: SALES JOB Short and snappy! No publications, posters, abstracts, no personal interests

38 What is an “Accomplishment”?
A way you helped your previous organization make money Or save money- increased efficiency, cost reduction Developing something new or different Advanced a research program, a breakthrough, a new product, a new line of research or technique

39 Improving the Resume Use action-oriented verbs such as “established, directed, managed, increased, created, launched, trained, instituted, designed Forget “assisted, helped, served”-and “responsible for” Use specific numbers when possible- dollars, number of people supervised, papers etc See Science jobs website for other tips

40 The Biotech Cover Letter
Customized for each job 3-4 paragraphs First one specifically states how your experience fits the particular position Second one lists your accomplishments Third thanks the addressee and says that you will either call or wait to hear.

41 Example: Industry Experience Required!
DIRECTOR, INDUSTRIAL ENZYME APPLICATIONS My client is a recognized leader in the development of novel enzyme products for a multitude of industrial applications. With 50/50 support from two of the largest, most respected biotech & pharma companies, this Joint-Venture is sure to continue its growth and client base. Located in the beautiful southern California coast, this opportunity will not be around long! You will be responsible for the design, implementation, and management of all research in the arena of enzyme application. Focus will be on products and services for identified industries, and you will oversee said research milestones and delivery in contracted 3rd-party laboratories. Accurate and timely documentation of results, monitoring activities, and setting project guidelines and goals will be required. The researching and assembling of all relevant information for development of new product and service concepts in a variety of industries will also be performed. PhD in biochemistry (or related field) with 6-8 years of industry experience. Proven experience with applicable, related research is a must! Familiarity with and knowledge of enzymes, biocatalysts, and process optimization as they apply to industrial fields is a plus. Now is the best time to join this proven leader in industrial enzymes -- if this sounds like you, please send you resume/CV (as an MS Word document) to (Please use the application form below) and let's talk! Example: Industry Experience Required!

42 Interviewing for Biotech
Prepare: read everything you can about the company you are visiting/ do mock interview Review the annual report, pubs of people you will meet Be guided by the ad: be prepared to say how you fit their qualifications Show enthusiasm for the work Give seminar, meet people all day long No second interviews (usually)

43 Biotechnology Career Websites
Many job sites connect to companies-big pharma Pfizer site has a lot of tips

44 Academia

45 Academia Has Many Advantages
The scientific questions you answer are your own and are not related to company goals You can grow at your own pace 1 grant or 3 grants; 1 technician or 10 postdocs You are your own boss in many ways- you decide hiring, travel, reviewing responsibilities etc Opportunity for subsidized travel

46 Academia Has Disadvantages
You must be self-supporting in terms of dollars and ideas You are essentially running a small company without having been fully prepared for some of the skills involved (human resources, financial management, lecture preparation) You must be good at multi-tasking: teaching, research, administration, reviewing -so that all demands are balanced

47 Finding Academic Jobs Science magazine
Contacts from meetings, colleagues, your mentor Bulletin boards University Organization websites (ASCB) Job bureaus at meetings

48 Cover Letters and CVs for Academic Appointments
The CV is similar to the postdoc CV but includes talks; teaching experience; and any grants obtained. Should be detailed! The cover letter is more generic than for biotech- states your intent to apply; your accomplishments; and a few sentences about your area of work Unique: 1-3 pages of your planned research program (or teaching philosophy for teaching positions) is attached to CV

49 Interviewing for a Faculty Position, I
Be prepared- know interests of faculty who will interview you; find potential areas of mutual interest to talk about Give a good seminar (introduction! Future plans!) You will meet with people in 2 days If not science talk about shared equipment, quality of life issues Meet with other newly hired faculty Be extremely tactful with everyone; no complaints!

50 Interviewing, II If you are in the top few you will be invited back for second interview You should have list of needed equipment /resources ready (core facilities?) You will meet more people outside the Department as well as inside Informal offer may be made that day or more likely afterwards in writing

51 Negotiating a Faculty Position, I
Negotiations for permanent positions will include many different aspects Salary (median salary for Assistant Prof is currently is 70K); med schools pay more than undergrad institutions Space ( sq feet) Startup (ranges from 150K to 300K) Equipment (shared or all yours?) Teaching (# contact hours per year eventually at a medical school; more at an undergrad institution) Committee/administrative responsibilities

52 Negotiating a Faculty Position, II
Salary is not everything- benefits can vary greatly Subsidized home purchase/loan rate Subsidized health insurance Retirement benefits Soft vs hard money guarantees- what % of your salary do you have to provide? (0% to 100%)

53 Research Assistant Professor
Not tenured Can be lab “lieutenant” Advantages Someone else writes the grants and has the pressure You can do independent science Disadvantages Pay; Recognition; Security

54 Clinical Appointments
More common these days Can be tenured Advantage: clinical departments can generate revenue for your research; pay better Disadvantage: do not want to be isolated from other researchers/colleagues

55 What Does Your Ph.D. Mean? You have a broad knowledge of current scientific knowledge with a specialization in one area You can research a problem and design and implement a solution independently You are a motivated worker You have developed communication skills You have developed organizational skills Therefore, you are competent to perform a wide variety of jobs besides research….

56 Alternative Careers for Science Ph.D.s (besides research)
Law- patent, tech transfer Finance- business experience helps Sales and Tech Support-most companies hire Ph.D.s Journalism -freelance or staff Teaching -small colleges Public policy (science) AAAS, other organizations Administration (NIH, NSF, many other private and public organizations)

57 Acknowledgments ASCB Life Sciences Job Hunt Booklet
(order free from ASCB site!) Science Jobs website:

58 Good Luck!

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