Interning in Tech Transfer

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Re: Interning in Tech Transfer

Postby C.T.N. » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:31 am

I don't work in tech transfer, I'm a scientist who works very closely with our TTO though and my impression is that there may be some ways in which the right postdoc may be useful, but I certainly don't see it as essential. Just doing a postdoc because 'its the done thing' seems pointless but

1. A postdoc may be useful for gaining maturity and discovering what you want to do with your career, but this may be more relevant for individuals with shorter PhD training (3-4 years in europe for example) and is certainly not a reason for a postdoc if you already know what you want to do

2. A postdoc with a group/PI working on the research side of TT could give useful insight into how working with TT impacts/influences research work and careers and thereby a better grounding for researcher liason when you move into TT. This would be very group dependent though. In our group scientists are very involved in discussions with potential licensees, have regular meeting with IP staff regarding managing patent portfolios, etc. so theoretically a postdoc in a group like ours could give you extra experience from the research side whilst maintaining an active contact to the TT world. Of course it is debatable whether this is any 'better' than moving straight into TT where you would spend that time gaining direct experience and building your skills....
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Re: Interning in Tech Transfer

Postby P. Lues » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:21 am

Hi again,

My contract ends in a couple of months and I'm not sure if they are renewing or not as the people I work with do not make these hiring decisions. My next decision is that if I can't stay with the same university's tech transfer office, what do I do? Ideally I would go somewhere where I can get business training so I can expand my skills but if nothing turns up, i may have to get a bench job or something in sales and work towards building up my skills until I can try for tech transfer again.

I have spoken to a few people in the tech transfer field and one of them recommended that I enroll in a part time two-year biotechnology/healthcare focused MBA program. But I am hesitant. I have no money for pay for this (even though MBA in Canada is considerably cheaper than US) but I am a good candidate for a few scholarships that would cover all of the costs. I have been to the intake interviews and i will have no problem getting into the chosen MBA program. Is this a wise move? If I apply now I won't start until september 2013 and by the time the program is finished, it will be 2015 so I should have 2-2.5 years of work experience by then. The rationale would be 1) to use the MBA career resources to secure a tech transfer position while still enrolled in the program and 2) tech transfer offices are probably more likely to invest in an MBA candidate and most permanent job postings now a days seem to require PhD and MBA. Is this a reasonable rationale? For me, the cost would be the time and effort, not the money, as I am only enrolling in MBA if I can get a full scholarship to cover it. But part time MBA while working full time somewhere else is a huge personal sacrifice. The other concern is that I don't have enough real world experience. It's just a question of 1) Is an MBA a good investment for what I want to do? 2) Is it wise to enroll in an MBA 9 months after finishing a PhD?

I want to hear from people who are on the business side of science (licensing execs, patent agents, technology managers, etc).
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Re: Interning in Tech Transfer

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:26 pm

No, it is NOT wise to do an MBA directly after graduating with your PhD. You'll be overtrained and unemployed. Employers may like an MBA on your CV somewhere down the road, but only after you've had some significant real world experience.

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Re: Interning in Tech Transfer

Postby P. Lues » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:31 pm

Hi Dave,

Thanks, that was my initial reaction too. But it is very tempting when someone gives you a quick fix (i.e. get this degree and then you can get this job - wouldn't that be sweet?) But I am still thinking about taking individual courses in business and IP. This won't make me over qualified but I can still show that I bring something to the table other than my scientific background. Too bad you can't get a scholarship for non-degree course work.
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Re: Interning in Tech Transfer

Postby RGM » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:08 pm

P. Lues wrote:
If you know what you want to do, I would pursue that instead of a postdoc. I would ask other PhDs who are in tech transfer about their career path and see if their postdoc was helpful, and if so, why/why not. I'd be really surprised if it did help them in their daily responsibilities beyond just knowing more science.

I have spoken to a few PhDs in tech transfer (well just 3) but it wasn't very helpful. The 2 that did postdocs seem to think that postdoc is essential and the one that skipped it told me it would be a waste of time. And their decisions were based on how quickly they wanted out of the lab. I didn't want that to be the deciding factor. I enjoy lab work and I'm willing to put in another couple of years of training, but only if it will help with my career. I don't want to do a postdoc if it's not going to be useful to my future. I already feel like my PhD was somewhat overkill. A month in on the job and everything I've done so far has had nothing to do with my PhD training. I've only used what I learned during my BSc. Of course I probably lacked the maturity to do this back then. I didn't even know what tech transfer was at that age.

If you want to be a scientist, then a PD it is. If you want to do anything else, there is no need for further "training". The "only" benefit you will get with more PD years is learning more science.

To really decide, ask yourself what you want to do, and ask hiring managers or people in that field if another postdoc is necessary. I doubt they'd say "absolutely necessary", unless you want to be faculty.
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