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Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward
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Advice

Postby F.E. » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:23 pm

Hello everyone. I am very excited that this forum exists and I would greatly appreciate your advice.

I am a pharmacologist with considerable experience characterizing drug/receptor interactions using radioligand binding and various types of functional assays. Over the past 11 years, I have been a faculty member at a small medical school and during this time, I have earned tenure, been awarded two grants (NIH AREA grants), and published seven papers (remember, it is a small school with few resources and I did most of the research myself since with help from a few students). While I have enjoyed this experience and am proud of what I have accomplished, I have learned that I would prefer a job that focuses on research. Consistent with my desire, I have applied to several industry positions over the past year and have had no success; not even an interview.

Do you have any advice for someone like me that is trying to find their first industry job after working in academia and has had a modest research record? Should I be applying for a certain type of position (e.g., entry level scientist)? Can you recommend a person or organization that helps scientists find an industry job? What experience from my current job do you think I should highlight in my cover letter and is well regarded by HR in industry?

Thank you!
F.E.
 
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Re: Advice

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:14 am

It looks like you've been submitting your applications directly to HR. That's going to be a low-yield process - especially in your situation. You're going to be seen as not having enough applicable experience to justify the salary they'll expect to have to pay.

You'll be much better off getting to know people who are already in industry - and letting them get to know you. Let them know that you're looking to make a change, and ask their advice. If this process is done correctly, they will be telling you to "shoot your resume over to Dr. X; he's looking for someone like you."

If you're not familiar with the networking process, this site has plenty of information in the FAQ and in the archives.
Rich Lemert
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Re: Advice

Postby P.C. » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:57 am

If you got tenure, then if you want different challenges, apply for a faculty job in a bigger school elsewhere with tenure. This would seem to have a much higher level of success than the path you are outlining.
If you are so long in the tooth and institutionalized within academia at this later stage of your career, you are going to have to be patient and play the long game.
And as mentioned, find friends and associates in industry that know you, and who you can network with.
This process of change may take you many months to learn and negotiate.
"You know I'm temperamental." "Yeah, 95% temper, 5% mental." - "Curly" & Moe Horwitz
P.C.
 
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Re: Advice

Postby F.E. » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:07 pm

Thank you for your response Rich and PC.

Rich, I will take a look at the posts describing how to network. That is a skill that I lack, and based on your response, it appears to be an important and necessary if I want to make a change.

P.C., I am not averse to continuing in academia. In fact, I have thought of trying to find a position at a larger, more research intensive university with more resources. However, I have only a modest publication and grant record, and even though I worked hard to accomplish what I have in my environment (I even had to build my own lab benches when I arrived), I would think my opportunities within academia are limited (I could probably make a lateral move, but an upward move would be difficult if not impossible). The reason I thought industry would be a good place for me because I could easily fit in with a team and contribute my experience and expertise with receptor cloning, mutagenesis, expression and characterization. I know, a lab associate could do this, but I am really good at it and I enjoy solving problems, creating new assays to characterize responses, etc. Also, I am hard working, goal oriented, like working towards deadlines and enjoy the idea of working with a team. Anyway, I mentally steered away from applying for other university positions because I was worried that I have been so far removed from the types of research that attract RO1 grants that I think it unlikely that I could compete for one and the larger universities are likely not eligible for AREA grants. But, perhaps I am being too hasty. It can’t hurt to try networking in both environments to learn more about the opportunities available. All I know is I want to do more research than I am doing currently.

Thank you both again for your advice. I really appreciate it.
F.E.
 
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Re: Advice

Postby Rich Lemert » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:29 pm

If you apply for a position at a "higher-tier" institution, they may reject your application.

If you don't apply to that institution, they don't have to reject you because you've done it for them.

This is another place where networking is almost a necessity. Besides letting the people at these places get to know you, it also gives you a chance to discuss whether or not your plans are reasonable.

Another benefit - it's going to be easier to find out who's who at these places, and it might be easier to network since a) you might already know some of these people, and b) even if you don't, you already have 'academia' in common.
Rich Lemert
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Re: Advice

Postby PG » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:06 am

11 years as a faculty member will brand you as an academic which many companies will interpret as something negative. Coupled with the fact that you with that amount of experience shouldnt be looking for a typical entry level bench position but rather something more advanced it will decrease the number of opportunities that exist in industry. I think that in this situation it is more likely that they find you rather than the other way around.

What you want make sure is that if a company is looking for an expert within your area of research they will actually find you. Networking is the best way to achieve this but be prepared for a loing process that also may include elements of for example consulting in specific questions. Also when you write publications or give seminars, try to point to realistic practical uses of your research. Be visible at sites like linkedin, if your area of research have a society of some sort being visible there might also be a good idea etc.
PG
 
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Re: Advice

Postby F.E. » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:50 pm

Thank you PG and Rich.

I wish websites like this one were around when I was making decisions about my career and I think that the articles posted on this site are helpful (e.g., David Jensen’s article on questions that one should consider when making career decisions). I also hope that graduate programs recognize how important it is to help graduate students identify careers that are congruent with the student’s interests. This is critically important particularly if an initial career decision can result in a label (e.g., academician) that limits one’s ability to pursue a different, but related, career at some point.

I recently went to the NIH graduate student recruitment fair and listened to the opening comments before manning our recruitment table. The opening comments were fantastic and the advice was excellent, and I sat there and thought if only I had been in that auditorium when I began as a graduate student. Oh the possibilities. Anyway, I wish the opening comments were recorded and made available graduate programs because they were very thoughtful.

Thank you again for your advice and I have begun to think about how I am going to go about networking.
F.E.
 
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