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Advice for an industry postdoc?

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Advice for an industry postdoc?

Postby Ken » Fri Oct 15, 2004 11:44 am

I'm set to begin my first postdoc in a few weeks, and it will be at a large biotech company. Anybody with any experience have any advice to help me with the transition? Is there anything that I should do early on to have a successful postdoc?
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Advice for an industry postdoc?

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Oct 15, 2004 11:50 am

Hi Ken,

I'll start out your responses by saying that this is a really great question. I've been moderating career forum discussions for more than ten years and there are few very unique questions. Yours is a valuable one.

Of course, we'll hope for other posters who have had industry postdocs, for their suggestions. However, let me start by congratulating you. It is tough to land an industry postdoc. There aren't a lot of good programs, and it sounds like you have found one.

The best thing to do in the first few weeks is to make certain that you make the rounds and get as many introductions out of the way as possible. In an academic postdoc, you may never see or have any relationship with people in labs for other departments. In this company, however, you will be expected to work together, as a team. This means that the more people you know, the more success you will achieve there. Gather business cards, go to lunch with a different crowd each week, and you will be blessed with a wonderful network when you close your postdoc in a couple of years. Get started right --

Dave Jensen, Moderator
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Advice for an industry postdoc?

Postby JB » Sat Oct 16, 2004 7:11 am

Ken, congratulations. Dave, as always, said it all, but I'll try to add a little bit, from the current industry (big pharma) postdoc perspective. recently First, as Dave said, get to know everyone, especially the associates (don't ever call them technicians). These are the people you will be interacting in the lab with everyday. In my experience these people, in addition to knowing where everything is and how to use certain equipment, will be able to tell you who you need to see about a problem be it scientific or company related. Also, at meeting try to say something, anything really. The senior scientists will notice.

Secondly, one of my biggest adjustments was to the types of questions that you must address in your research. Unlike it graduate school, you can't do experiments just because it would be "cool" or because no one has adressed it before. All of the work must be backed by solid literature, no hunting expeditions. Be prepared to answer "how will this affect the porfolio" and what with the company gain from this work." That took a time to adjust to.

Once again congratulations and good luck.
JB
 
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Advice for an industry postdoc?

Postby J.J. » Mon Oct 18, 2004 10:39 am

Ken,
Although I'm in a different field, after a few years on the job, I have some thoughts that I think are pretty generally applicable to the first year of employment in any field:
1. In your first year, keep your head down and work hard. Your reputation is cemented in the beginning of your employment, and it's good to establish your work ethic right off the bat. You'll have plenty of time to let people know about your other talents.
2. In a similar vein, avoid being known for a "big personality." There is plenty of time in your career to be assertive/risk-taking/charming. However, it takes at least 6 months to a year to fully understand a workplace culture-I once observed a junior person, who is actually pretty cool, get labelled immediately as "difficult," and it was a tough label to shake off. Management was suspicious of new people coming in and immediately trying to make a splash.
3. Respond well to feedback. Be prepared for some negative feedback on assignments, and practice responding with a great attitude. If your boss feels good about you not freaking out when you are corrected, you'll win a lot of points.
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Advice for an industry postdoc?

Postby Ken » Mon Oct 18, 2004 2:02 pm

Thanks for the advice. So, to reiterate, network, remember the bottom line and work hard.

I guess that brings up the question of "hard work". My experience with acacademia has been "hard work" = "stay till 9 PM even if it means you spent several hours playing video games". Would it be fair to say that industry is more of a situation where hard work means multitask while you are at work, get your job(s) done and then go home? Is face-time still the answer?

Ken
 
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Advice for an industry postdoc?

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Oct 18, 2004 3:04 pm

Hi Ken,

Face time is very important in some companies, and not so much in others. It really depends upon the culture of the company you are talking about. You'll find out in your first couple of weeks what the "norm" is. In a general sense, it is often a department issue, and not a company one. The department may be behind on a project and burning the candle at both ends. Or, it could be a small startup firm has its culture on hours set by the person in the corner office,

Dave
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