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Using my degree and sales background

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Using my degree and sales background

Postby Novitsky » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:30 am

I graduated in 2013 with a BS in biomedical science with a chemistry minor. I did research in molecular biology which I loved. I excelled in my microbiology and biochemistry labs as well. After graduating, the few lab jobs that I found in my area all paid under $16.00/hour. I ended up taking a job doing QA testing on automotive and aerospace parts, only requiring basic chemistry knowledge. After a year my company slowed down and I was laid off. I took a temporary job doing water chemistry at a treatment plant which was wasn't challenging and I didn't care for as well.

I have always been an outgoing person and I grew tired of spending my day with minimal human interaction in a windowless lab while making far less than I hoped. I decided on a drastic change so I took a position doing software sales for a very large corporation in Chicago. I have been doing software sales for about 1.5 years here and I feel like I wasted my degree. I have made a lot more money, but I want to get back into a scientific field.

I know the obvious would be to do medical/pharma sales, but I would like to get out of sales all together. I could do without the constant stress of hitting quota every month. At 27, I don't plan on going back for a higher degree, which rules out a lot of lab jobs. I want a career that I can advance without needed a Ph.D.

I was hoping for some additional career ideas. I have been looking into forensic sciences, but I know there are a lot of jobs that I'm unaware of. I don't have to necessarily be working in a lab, but I want a career where I can utilize my science and business background. I've been racking my brain for a long time and there just isn't one perfect job that comes to mind. It doesn't matter how obscure, I would greatly appreciate any and all ideas.

Kyle Novitsky
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Re: Using my degree and sales background

Postby Dick Woodward » Thu Jul 07, 2016 3:39 pm

Kyle:

I think that you are doing yourself a disservice when you rule out sales. There are a number of sales positions in the science industry - many are much more interesting than pharma sales, which is highly constrained as to what you are allowed to do or say. A lot of these options have been discussed here in the forum, so I will not go over them here - just spend a little time searching on the forum. I would also recommend an article that Dave Jensen and I wrote some years back: http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/1997/05/his-mother-cried-when-he-went-sales.

A bigger concern is your attitude about your whole career. It appears that you have an unrealistic view of both your business background and the amount of stress that occurs in almost every position.

First, your business background. 1.5 years as a lab tech and 1.5 years as a sales rep do not make you an experienced businessperson; using the military as an example, you would likely be at the rank of private first class or corporal - some good skills but a lot to learn. Sure, you have learned a lot about how business works, but you have a lot more to learn.

Next, let's talk about stress on the job. No matter how much you like your job, there will always be a level of stress involved. In sales, it is your personal quota. In marketing, it involves meeting the group sales quota while spending within your budget. As you move up the corporate ladder, it gets worse. You become more and more responsible for more and more things that you have less and less direct control over. Perhaps it might sound interesting to co-found and run a company and go out to get millions in venture financing. Well, I have done it (and got the financing), and it is absolutely the most stressful thing that I have ever done in my life. (A close friend, who has also done that a couple of times, tells me it is even more stressful than getting divorced; since he is on wife #4, I will take his word for it.)

I'm also concerned that you are too heavily focused on money. Perhaps you might instead focus on finding something that you enjoy, and building your career on that. If you enjoy what you are doing, the money will come.

Lastly, the comment about "wasting your degree" concerns me. Is that what you truly believe, or is that the result of external pressures and disapproval? Your background in the life sciences has taught you to study situations and dissect and solve problems - there is no rule that says that you have to do that in the field that you were trained in (check out my mother's reaction in the above-cited article).

If the positions that interest you are not near home, apply to positions elsewhere. Moving is pretty much part of the business life.

Learning about different positions is also possible. This forum is loaded with threads about informational interviewing - perhaps it would behoove you to do a bit of searching here to better understand how to accomplish this.

Best of luck,

Dick
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