Career in biotechnology which is location independent?

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Career in biotechnology which is location independent?

Postby Zet » Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:07 am


I'm new here although I was following this forum for a while.
I'm currently about to finish my second year at the university in Poland. I'm going to grab Bachelor title in Biotechnology next year.

I have done a lot of research recently on job prospects in Biotechnology and it's such an wide area that to be honest I'm just lost. I would like to work location independent - I know that basically nothing will grant me an ability to work from home in Biotechnology industry. I really like biotechnology and I would love to pursue an career, but more than that I would like to travel and have a particular set of skills that I can use anywhere in the world wherever I want. IT is the best example, but I know that it's basically impossible to work like this in this industry, even though I know there must be something, some niche that would allow me work like this.

As for the moment I'm earning over 1,000$ USD monthly as a freelancer while studying at the university, doing a lot of various jobs and if I wanted I could just drop out of uni and live above average in Poland and in most of "poorer" countries, but the income is not stable. I've been building a network of contractors for a year, but the jobs may end any moment and looking for a new one is really painful and long process, especially as I'm not an qualified expert at anything I do. I just got experience in those things working hard and figuring things on my own, therefore I want to continue studying Biotechnology to become an expert at something and have a stability in life that everyone so eagerly pursue.

Getting a job allowing to work remotely is not an option in this industry - I have already realized it, but there must be something allowing you to for example: Go to country A for a few months to do a job, then travel to country B for a few months and so on.
I've been looking for something like this for a while already, but from what I have found Biotechnology is all about pursuing an higher position, getting hired at one company and doing your job, improving, getting more educated, getting reputation at the certain company and working for the same company at the same place for the of your life. Obviously I can quit my job and look for another in other country, but as long as I'm not top 5% or less at what I do process of getting hired and finding a good job will be really troublesome, resulting in pay cuts and building "yourself" from the scratch in the other company.
Work that I could do in IT is something that I really desire. To be an independent contractor and I would like to pursue at least something slightly similar in biotech.

I know it may seem a bit like a troll post, but I would love to hear from you guys that have a lot bigger experience in Biotechnology to tell me if it's possible.

Best regards,

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Re: Career in biotechnology which is location independent?

Postby Dick Woodward » Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:00 pm


There is a job such as you describe - it is called a consultant - but you really do not have the background for this yet.

To be a successful consultant, you have to have a skill set that people will pay you for. In biotech, this will typically require 15-20 years of experience, especially if you plan to be an independent consultant. I cannot see anyone hiring a person with a Bachelor's as a consultant unless that person is the inventor and world's expert on something totally new.

It is possible to go directly from a PhD into a position with the large consulting firms (e.g., McKinsey) but it is not clear that you would get the lifestyle that you want. From the people that I have spoken to who have worked for those companies, you are expected to leave home on Sunday night (or very early Monday morning) to fly to the client site, work long hours all week and then fly home Friday night. I doubt that they hire Bachelor's degree people.

It is likely to be more possible to do this in IT, especially if you are working through a large firm. An expert in bioinformatics or the analysis of large data sets who also understands biotech might be able to do this. However, if you are working at the client's site, your life is likely to be as described above. If you work from your own site, there goes the travel.

I know that some companies, such as Battelle, do send consultants to live for extended periods (weeks to months) in countries where they are doing business. Again, the experience factor is critical, and this is where you are lacking.

I am sorry to be discouraging, but you really need to know what reality is like. Perhaps you would be better off contacting some people in these areas and finding out what the positions are really like.

Best of luck,

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Re: Career in biotechnology which is location independent?

Postby Ana » Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:37 pm

One option is consultants, as Dick said. Another one is CRA (clinical research associates). I'm not very familiar with that career but they are the majority of pharma-related positions that work from home. If what you want is to travel (not necessarily work from home) look also into sales. Pharma companies have some teams that travel for more than half of their time, and can cover vast territories like all Europe. Those are the main examples I can think of.

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Re: Career in biotechnology which is location independent?

Postby Ralf K. » Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:36 am

Hi Zet,

I agree with alot of points. Valuable expert knowledge is the first thing you need to get. For the degree - I have a friend who just started as "Management Consultant - Life Science" at Accenture with a Masters and MBA. I've seen also some with Bachelors degree. Of course starting straight of PhD is the "most common" way, but for sure not the only one. Don't get discouraged by this.

Let me give you an example: I was working for a while for a CRO (So we had some expert knowledge for big pharma where i was working) and I contacted a consulting company that had an opening. They told me that I need to be ready to be away from home (often US - I leave in Europe) for a couple of month - project based work.
So it would have been for planning clinical trials I needed to consult the company in the setup. But ok, this was not 100% biotechnology as you wish, but would have had this lifestyle.

Alternatively I met someone who had an own company and worked on contract basis for Biotech companies. Helped at some data analysis and she needed that money to start her own company in the area of biosensors. I guess having a own company might also help you for some freelance contracts.

And last idea: There are also field service engineers / field application specialist that travel alot. Ok it might not be the exact think you want but I've have some installations that take easily 1 month to complete or you cover an entire region then you can easily be half of the year in airplanes.

My recommendation if you want this: Aquire valuable expert knowledge for a couple of years or try joining a consulting company (Asking or applying doesn't cost you anything).

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Re: Career in biotechnology which is location independent?

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jul 21, 2017 3:38 pm

Zet, there are some good ideas here. I second the motion of the Applications Engineer or tech support person for an equipment or reagents company. You can travel a region, staying in Poland as your home base. All major companies that sell their equipment or services to scientists have people like this. They also hire salespeople, of course, and a logical career move from the applications area would be to move to sales. Those positions are always based in the region.

Good luck to you and stayed tuned into the forum,
Dave Jensen, Moderator
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Re: Career in biotechnology which is location independent?

Postby D.X. » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:36 am

Hi Zet,

You've been given good advice from the above Posters, Management Consulting would be ideal for you.

The issue with CRAs and items like that is you Need hirer education to Progress, with CRA's the low haning fruit is Clinical Development.

Just a note, in today's world, it is no longer the view that you join one Company for the rest of your life, it will accepted a career is a mix of different companies with Job switching via jumping companies as a integral part of your career development - no Company is loyal to you and sadly most often the case, the quickest way to often grow is to jump. Ok that out of the way.

Regarding Management Consulting, many talk about it about that is an overarching umbrella, there are many things you can do there from Marketing strategy to Supply Chain Management.

The latter, Supply Chain, can have a high IT component and will give you a skill set you can apply in nearly every sector but Pharma/biotech has certain nuances that make it specialized - there is Need for Folks with comprehensive understading and Hands one experience with End to End Supply Chain Management, this is the back bone of what actually gets a drug from the reactor to the bed-side shipping wise.

One place ourside of Management Consulting you can also start to look is locally at wholesale Distributors in your Country, get local knowledge and start buidling internationally from there. Get a good End to End expereince as your target and if you like IT get a good IT platform experience.

Another place to look is finance. That's always portable and in the begining of your career you'll be high finance Focused but as you grow you could get more intouch with biotech Business as more often Controllers are getting integrated in to Brand core Teams - but with the finance Folks i know they're pretty mobile, secure and stable at least in the pharma sector and they can jump countries if needed.

That means maybe science may not your trajectory despite your described "biotech" ambissions, you could consider an add on Business education in Supply Chain Management and/or Finance and apply that to Biotech. As you probably figured out, Biotech is a Business and a sector with many different functions, you just Need to figure out how Close the the science you want to be and they type of science.


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