Frustration, Frustration, but i have hope...

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Frustration, Frustration, but i have hope...

Postby Richard » Tue Feb 01, 2005 9:08 pm

I just moved recently to a city where Biotech/Pharma is in every conversation, every breath, every corner you turn- yes, Boston. I have been here for six months and I am currently doing my Master\'s. However, I am only in school part-time with the hope that I can get an entry-level position somewhere- anywhere. However, after reading all the posts from this wonderful forum and other areas, it seems that applying online is useless. I am networking- to a certain degree- but what else can I do? I dont even care if the position is full-time or not- I thought finding an entry-level position would be simple. I go to career fairs, i go to company presentations, I have used recruiters, but they seem lazy after 1 or 2 tries. Please guys/gals- help me. Any advice would suffice. I have tried almost everything but I keep failing. The doubts are rising in me and I feel like quiting soon, but I don\'t want to. Thanks everyone.

Frustration, Frustration, but i have hope...

Postby Lora » Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:33 am


If you're applying for an entry-level job, I think no matter how well you network, you're going to have to put out a LOT of CVs/resumes before you get a bite. I sent out about 100 CVs/applications before getting hired for my first "real" entry-level job, and that was with two undergrad publications and two years of work-study experience behind me. And it's true that you have to live there; unless you have a fraternity brother willing to cut you a break or your advisor has a connection to a hiring manager somewhere, you won't get anything out of town.

In my experience, hiring managers look for local grads they have some connection with first (same frat, same alma mater, boss' cousin, you get the idea) and then the local person who is the best fit for the job second. This means you have to be a more attractive recruit than the boss' cousin in some other respect--do you have any other handy skills, like website design, copier repair (I'm not kidding), fluency in some language that customers might speak? I once got a job because I read German, enabling the company to save money in translation fees for articles.

Many entry-level jobs, even for an MS, are hired through temp or contract agencies. Expect your first job out of college to be a position for which you are extremely overqualified. Lots of new grads think they will get a position that makes full use of their skills, but for the vast majority of folks, the first entry-level job is pretty mindless. I see a lot of posts here from new PhDs who say their industrial jobs aren't investing very much responsibility in them and they feel bored enough to move on, but in my experience, industrial managers are very, VERY cautious about how much responsibility they give anyone with no previous industrial experience. Your first project or first job will probably be for something you think a well-trained monkey could do. Don't get discouraged by that either, because if you do a rockin' job, you'll get more exciting projects further down the road.

Be prepared for your job hunt to take a while. Take a crappy temp job or a McDonald's type of job in the meantime if you need to in order to pay bills. I would recommend that you NOT take the first job that's offered to you, no matter how desperate you feel; every entry-level new grad I ever met who took the first job offer they got ended up unhappy with it, and if you take your time you may even be able to line up competing offers, and then you can negotiate your first real salary better--crucial to what your future salaries in future jobs will be!

If worse comes to worst and you really cannot find a single thing, there's always Lab Support. If you can prove to a company that you're a good worker and a good fit as a temp, they will be more willing to consider you for a permanent position, even if the particular function you do there isn't temp-to-perm. It will broaden your contacts, too: through working a temp job, I once got three competing job offers at the same company, only ONE of which was advertised. Since my temp job pay was considerably higher than what the advertised salary was, I managed to get ~35% more money out of them, too.

Frustration, Frustration, but i have hope...

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:48 am

Hi RIchard,

Great advice from Lora, except that there are a lot of temp firms out there and the one she mentions is just one of them.

NO ONE on this forum ever said not to apply to companies online. When doing a job search, use every method you can. Apply on line, job fairs, networking, temps, etc. Recruiters don't work with new grads, so they aren't "lazy" just working on their normal projects with experienced staff.

You are on the right track, just hang in there. There's a great quote from Marilyn French, author of The Bleeding Heart. It deals with how difficult the "test" of finding a job after getting out of college can be:

?I discovered you never know yourself until you?re tested, and that you don?t even know you?re being tested until afterwards, and that in fact there isn?t anyone giving the test except yourself.?

So-- college was hard, and your graduate program especially so. Now comes the REALLY hard part, and it is simply another test that gets you out and tests your level of persistence, something that you'll need to develop for the rest of your work life.


“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
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Frustration, Frustration, but i have hope...

Postby Richard » Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:19 pm

Thanks guys for your wondeful advice. I went to a career fair today and it was horrible- it was for mortgage/real estate people; how i got there, I dont know. Anyways, on the way home I was upset and nervous again about what lies ahead, and I came across a furniture store with a help wanted sign. I had my suit on and thought, why not, i need sales experience and what better way to do it then trying to sell furniture. I came in, interviewed with the lady, mocked selling her a couch, and got a second round with the regional manager. I know this is nothing in relation to my goals, but I feel its something that can bring in $ and help me practice my people skills. Who knows, maybe ill get lucky one day if i work here and sell a couch to a hiring manager at Genzyme or something.

Frustration, Frustration, but i have hope...

Postby John Fetzer » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:41 pm

Attend all of the local meetings of professional societies that are relevant, like the chemical or biological ones. There are lots of networking opportunities at them.

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Frustration, Frustration, but i have hope...

Postby Richard » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:49 pm

Once again, thanks everyone. Lora, your awesome. But I am concerned about one thing. I dont plan on pursuing the phd route, and Im still contemplating my route into MD or DDS. In my mind my vision is to work on the clinical science side now, get my masters in the science (something that i dont want to pursue inthe long run) and eventually venture into the business end of the industry. I want to combine my science knowledge and my business mindset into one. I figure this plan is the best. I dont feel it is critical as it used to be in this industry (biotech/pharma) to have so many letters behind your name anymore. There are many routes and many are still being blazed. I just hope I am blazing one that makes sense.

Frustration, Frustration, but i have hope...

Postby Lora » Thu Feb 03, 2005 8:58 am

Hmm. Which part of the business end?

I'm just thinking of the backgrounds of many co-workers on t'other side of the campus, and they're pretty broad. The only thing they really have in common is they're all terrible golfers. (My friend Paul just yelled, "I'm a GREAT golfer!" so apparently there's some disagreement there.) Sales, I think would probably help you, as the vast majority of successful business folks (the Trumps and Gateses of the world being exceptions) know how to be very charming when necessary. They are good at selling their project ideas, their services, themselves. One of my bosses was once an architect, and he deals with people the same way he would work with developing a house design: how can we meet your needs for a big living room with my creative idea for a two-story hand-tiled fireplace. It's very effective, something you don't learn in school.

If you're considering medical or dental school, I don't know that any work experience will help you. My understanding is that medical and dental school is nothing but a numbers game, and it's really graduate school for a PhD that the admissions committee will care at all about work experience.

Frustration, Frustration, but i have hope...

Postby Richard » Thu Feb 03, 2005 11:26 pm

When I say the business end, i mean a few key things. First, I would like to get into strategy consulting with pharma companies working on either marketing, product development, or deployment- internationally and nationally. Secondly, at an analyst position with a science background I would be able to consult for small startup biotech companies and do work with VC firms to raise money, create business plan, etc. Im still solidifying these ideals but have a bigger heart to go that route rather than the intense science route long term.

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