How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Becky » Fri Apr 29, 2005 10:58 am

Hi Pam,

I'm trying to decide between an industry postdoc and an academic postdoc. I haven't applied to Genentech because I am in New Jersey. However, I'd love to hear about why an industry postdoc can be just as advantageous to my career as a good academic postdoc.

What should I be looking for if I selected a postdoc at a company instead of somewhere like Rutgers?


How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Matthew » Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:09 am


Thanks for guest-hosting this forum. My question is how much does previous postdoc experience help or hurt my chances of finding a postdoc in industry.

My situation is this: I am 8 months into my first academic postdoc. It has been a good experience, but I decided recently that I want a career in industry research. I have not had a good chance to build many industry contacts, but I'm working on that. I am considering looking for an industry postdoc to get industry experience. I don't know if it is best to 1)spend another year or two in my present position, build industry contacts, then look for a permanent research position in industry or 2)Look for an industry postdoc now/soon to maximize my chances of finding a permanent industry position. Thanks again.

How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Pam Maynard » Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:25 am

What is typical of industry is that they will bring in postdocs to work on projects that are useful and beneficial for the company first. What makes Genentech's postdoc program unique is that we are more like academia in that the goal is to enable people to stay at the cutting edge of basic academic style research. Like academia, you would have the opportunity to develop a solid project rather than having to stop a project to develop an assay in support of their project.

In researching or interviewing for industry postdocs you might ask about what their success rates are with creating publications and what kinds of resources would be available to you with consideration to your project. This will help to understand the objectives of their program.
Pam Maynard

How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Pam Maynard » Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:45 am

What is most attractive to Genentech is that you have made the most out of your academic postdoc and that you have something to show for it. If you are applying into industry (regardless of the contacts that you have) without any manuscripts, that can be a disadvantage to you.

Something else to consider is that we will accept applications for a second postdoc and have hired individuals into a second postdoc but there would have to be mitigating circumstances for switching from one postdoc to another. If one is leaving because it wasn't what he/she thought it would be then we wouldn't look to hire them. If an individual switches fields or to a new technology then we would consider that.

Pam Maynard

How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Kevin Foley » Fri Apr 29, 2005 12:22 pm

Hi Pam,

I'm curious, do you have any idea how many formal ?postdoc? positions exist in the biotech/pharma universe?

I am an Assoc. Director at an ~140 person biotech in the Boston area, and have worked for 3 companies in my career, none of whom have had formal postdoc programs. My experience as a hiring manager has been that I rarely receive CV's from scientist candidates coming out of industrial postdoc positions.

In general, I think most hiring managers are unfamiliar with what an industry postdoc is like (the well-known Genentech program being an exception). So it can be a bit hard to know what to make of such candidates, particularly if their CV is in an academic style that doesn't focus on specific accomplishments.

Personally, I am biased towards looking for candidates who have done a traditional 2-4 year academic postdoc. In part, this due to my familiarity with that career track, having gone that way myself. I know what to expect from such candidates.

I also think the scientific rigor of an academic postdoc is a very valuable experience that can?t be exactly replicated in industry (although, again, Genentech may be an exception). The question is whether the increased familiarity with the industry way of doing things, which is certainly obtained through an industry postdoc, makes up for the loss of a more hard-core basic research experience in an academic postdoc?

I?m sure it depends on the postdoc program. But as I said, that is the hard thing to judge, both for candidates and hiring managers.

Kevin Foley
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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Apr 29, 2005 12:29 pm

Hi Kevin,

I would also love to know the "universe" of industry postdocs, and while Pam may not have those specifics, she'll be able to help us by possibly providing numbers for the Bay area, or even for Genentech.

My client hiring managers have always appreciated a good industry postdoc as they seem to help scientists break that culture barrier between the ivory tower and industry. But, as you say Kevin, it doesn't mean that it is the same quality training experience that a person can get in a top academic lab. I guess that it really depends upon the company.

If there is anyone reading our forum who has an industry postdoc underway, please join us and comment in this thread,

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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Pam Maynard » Fri Apr 29, 2005 2:58 pm

I don't know how many industry postdocs are out there (that's a question I am looking into further), however, I do know that out of 15 to 20 postdocs that will finish their postdoc tenure at Genentech this year, there might be two that get hired full time. Those who will stay and get hired as a Scientist will have evidence of a good track record, have a consistency of excellence (with publications) and, looking more broadly, have displayed some creativity as a independent researcher. It doesn't necessarily matter if a candidate is familiar with Genentech's way of doing things or not, what matters most are the things mentioned above.
Pam Maynard

How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Phil B » Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:21 pm

Pam, Could you provide some specifics for evaluating a candidate for advancement for the items you stated? How does one demonstrate independence in an industry environment?

From your post:

-A good track record,
-have a consistency of excellence (with publications)
-displayed some creativity as a independent researcher
Phil B
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How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Philip » Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:55 pm

Following on Phil's post (not me!) I have a similar question, Pam. I am always wondering how a non-technical person (which most Human Resources people are) can evaluate a technical document like a CV? Do they train you on certain things to watch for? Or, is it just a keyword search?

My reason for asking is that I think this forum could use some clarity with regards to what companies are looking for, and the role of human resources.

Thank you so much for your time here on the site, and for your expertise. It will help many people I am sure,


How to Land and Succeed in an Industry Postdoc

Postby Pam Maynard » Fri Apr 29, 2005 4:56 pm

Hi Phil,


A good track record can consist of a combination of different factors. A PhD and/or MD from reputable schools or programs, postdoc experience from a top-tier lab of that field (ie. immunology or oncology), first-authored publications, no gaps in employment history and a complete reference list.

By consistency of excellence (with publications), he/she must have published consistently within their field with top journals. The top journals vary from field to field but Genentech is always attracted to Nature, Cell and Science publications.

He/she will have displayed some creativity as an independent researcher by staying abreast of the science and the latest technologies in their field and putting that knowledge to work in their lab as cutting edge science.

I hope this helps to clarify.
Pam Maynard


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