Life After Graduate School: Career Topics for Graduate Students and Postdocs: BiotechIndustry or Aca - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Life After Graduate School: Career Topics for Graduate Students and Postdocs: BiotechIndustry or Aca


Howard Hughes Medical Institute ... Alternative Careers for Science Ph.D.s (besides research) Law- patent, tech transfer ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Life After Graduate School: Career Topics for Graduate Students and Postdocs: BiotechIndustry or Aca

Life After Graduate School Career Topics for
Graduate Students and Postdocs
Biotech/Industry or Academia? Searching for
Jobs Applications Interviews Negotiations
Whats the Future?
  • Note that unemployment rate among Ph.D.s is very
    low- 1.6 in 1997
  • 1/3 of all Ph.D.s now work in industry
  • Broad training is increasingly required
  • Other skills you learn in grad school are
    increasingly important to your future
  • Communication skills- esp. writing
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Use of information technology
  • Systems Biology

Postdoctoral Jobs
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Postdoc
  • You are choosing the field you will be starting
    your own lab in- make sure there is growth
    opportunity (ie a niche for you)
  • Small labs vs big labs- each have advantages and
    disadvantages- visit both
  • Designated job or freedom to explore?
  • Industry or academia?
  • Aim high!

Searching for Postdocs
  • You should leave your institution in order to
  • Identify three to six labs, in geographic areas
    you would consider, who work on topics of
    interest to you
  • Funded investigators (check CRISP)
  • Productive investigators (check Pub-Med)
  • Dont just respond to ads!

Searching for Postdocs
  • Send a CV and a cover letter to these labs with
    an approximate time frame for Ph.D.
  • Start a year ahead
  • Remember that few actually graduate on time
  • Aim high- very good labs, not just a job
  • You will most likely be asked to interview
  • If you cannot interview, arrange to meet the PI
    or members of his lab at a meeting
  • Be persistent!

Choosing a Postdoc
  • Staying in the same field as your grad work
    provides continuity you already know the field
    as well as some of your future reviewers
  • Choose a change in technique or system/organism
    but not both
  • Get broad training but also specialize in
    something specific

Postdoc at NIH?
  • Advantages
  • Good financial resources and state-of the art
  • Good intellectual resources synergy
  • Stimulating metropolitan area
  • Salaries higher than elsewhere
  • No grant writing
  • Disadvantages
  • Physical crowding
  • No grant writing- difficult to prepare for
  • Guide to find mentors http//

The Postdoc Cover Letter
  • No more than ½ to 1 page
  • Describe your current area of research in a few
  • Describe what you would like to learn
  • Ask to be considered for a position
  • Say when you will be ready
  • Remember the postdoc market is excellent you
    will most likely have many offers!
  • Having 1-2 publications will increase the number

The Curriculum Vitae
  • Provides a clear record of your educational and
    research accomplishments
  • Standard format includes
  • Your name and the DATE!
  • Personal information (contact address and info)
  • Educational history
  • Honors and Fellowships
  • Teaching Experience (if appropriate)
  • Grant and research support (if appropriate)

The Curriculum Vitae, II
  • Membership in professional societies
  • Invited lectures (if appropriate)
  • Research and Publications
  • Some formats list only the publications followed
    by the abstracts
  • Others intersperse this information with a
    concise summary of what the work showed
  • Optional
  • Personal interests (biking, fishing) (no)
  • Techniques mastered (PCR, immunocytochemistry)
  • References (at least three, up to five)

Letters of Recommendation
  • Thesis advisor - mandatory
  • Prominent faculty member in Dept?
  • Any faculty you have interacted with-?
  • Collaborators?
  • Ask referees if they can write a positive letter
    if you have any doubts, then do not use the
    referee (some fellowships require top scoring)

Interviewing for a Postdoc
  • You may be asked to give a talk (50)
  • Ask other lab members what the PIs style is
  • Know your own style- hands-off? Interactive?
  • Find out where former lab members are now
  • Dont ask about salary it will be in your offer

After the Interview
  • Send thank-you with a time frame for your
    decision if you already have an offer
  • Make your decision involve your committee
    members if you have questions
  • Let the other places know RIGHT AWAY (you are
    taking a spot away from someone else!)
  • Plan to write an NIH postdoc grant 9 months ahead
    if you are a US citizen or have a green card

Negotiating a Postdoc Position
  • If there is a job you want and you have not heard
    yet, but you do have other offers, tactfully
    contact the PI/institution and explain that you
    need to make a decision
  • Most likely you will then receive an offer
  • It is unusual to request more money for a
    postdoc generally the PI pays what he/she can
    afford/thinks is competitive with the others in
    the lab

Postdoc Salaries
  • Formerly 28,260 for entry-level postdocs,
    rising to 44,412 for those with at least seven
    years' experience.
  • New NIH guidelines Mar 1 2004 start at 35,568
    3 yrs is 43,428 7 years experience is now
    51,036 (it will take up to 5 years for source
    grants to catch up!)
  • Note that at NIH staff fellowships often pay
    more there is a big range depending on source!
  • Equipment, technical assistance, professional
    travel, or any other activity directly related
    to the Fellow's research may also be supported
    by some sources

Postdoctoral Training Grants
  • You need to show you will experience professional
  • Go to another institution
  • Learn other techniques or a new field

Postdoctoral Training Grants
  • Identify a postdoctoral mentor
  • One year or more before anticipated graduation
  • Be proactive- most people are looking for fellows
  • Submit your proposal well before moving
  • Success elements - in order of priority
  • Your mentors reputation (pubs, grants,status)
  • Your own accomplishments (grades, pubs)
  • Training plan (courses, techniques to be learned)
  • Research plan (clear, doable)
  • There are 3 deadlines a year-Jan 10, May 10 and
    Sept 10 for Kirschstein 416-1 awards

Postdoctoral Training Grants
  • Project
  • Should be doable and limited
  • Should provide training expertise
  • Need not be extensive
  • Your qualifications
  • Recommendations extremely important
  • Top 5-10
  • Grad school GPA 3.0 and above
  • Publications (1-2) and presentations (2)

How Long Should It Take To Write?
  • Its only 10 pages- give yourself one month
  • Get forms from
  • Discuss ideas with future mentor and read papers
  • Write!
  • Make sure PI will be in the office to do his/her
  • In the last week, focus full-time on proofing
  • Remember institutional deadlines (mentors)
    precede NIHs

Writing a Successful Proposal
  • Background and Specific Aims
  • Must persuade reviewer of need for work
  • Experimental Design
  • Must persuade reviewer of your ability to think,
    anticipate problems, design experiments
  • Less is more- do not propose 5 years of work!
  • Have 3 people read and critique your proposal

Postdoctoral Funding Opportunities
  • NIH individual grant
  • NIH training grant
  • Many, many other sources- disease-related
  • AHA and ACS are the largest
  • NIH research training opportunities
  • National Academies' report http//www.nationalac
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation http//
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund http//
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Other Postdoc Resources
  • See COSEPUP document
  • http//
  • National Organization of Postdocs website
  • There are currently 40,000 postdocs!

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Biotechnology and Industry
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What are the salaries? Note different scales
Advantages and Disadvantages of Biotech
  • Advantages
  • Higher salaries-perhaps twice if postdoc
    (60-70k) also many other perks- stock options,
    bonuses etc
  • Well-equipped facilities
  • Focused work environment
  • Disadvantages
  • You may find an interesting phenomenon and not be
    permitted to explore it, if it is not relevant to
    company goals
  • You must put your groups interests ahead of your
    personal interests teamwork effort

Hiring Trends in Industry
  • Multidisciplinary training very useful
  • Molecular biology and business
  • Chemistry and law
  • Life sciences and programming
  • Conversely some specialized areas are hot
  • Proteomics, genomics, drug discovery, medicinal
  • Industrial specializations such as formulations,
    product development and process scientists,
    clinical project managers, regulatory affairs
  • Systems biology

Biotech or Industry?
  • Note that some industrial companies are giant
    pharmaceutical or chemical companies and others
    are startups with 20-60 employees
  • How will you fit into existing culture?
  • Can you live with insecurity of small company?
  • Biotech companies are smaller but risk is higher

  • 3,000 firms were polled in 2003
  • Increase of 12 in hiring
  • 90 have 500 or fewer employees
  • Most located in six states
  • See US Dept of Commerce Report

Biotech Jobs
  • Market is tough in years when venture capital is
  • Use every resource to locate positions
  • Networking meetings online sites journal ads
  • Make sure you are a match for the job before
  • There is no substitute for the personal contact
  • Many companies create positions in December to
    hire in January

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Applying to Biotech, II
  • Do a postdoc in biotech if you think you want to
    work in biotech- it makes you more competitive to
    have industry experience (ask about advancement)
  • Make contacts within the company at meetings if
    possible- ask people who come to your poster (and
    go to theirs!) about opportunities at their
  • Finding a good biotech job at the Ph.D. level is
    equally difficult as finding an academic position!

The Biotech Resume
  • Is different than the academic CV 2-3 pages, not
    5-6 -even for mature scientist
  • Use key words- technologies you have used
  • Relate your accomplishments, not your skills- use
    brief, 25-word descriptions of how you put the
    key word items into practice
  • Must persuade that you have the abilities that
    will help achieve corporate goals SALES JOB
  • Short and snappy! No publications, posters,
    abstracts, no personal interests

What is an Accomplishment?
  • A way you helped your previous organization make
  • Or save money- increased efficiency, cost
  • Developing something new or different
  • Advanced a research program, a breakthrough, a
    new product, a new line of research or technique

Improving the Resume
  • Use action-oriented verbs such as established,
    directed, managed, increased, created, launched,
    trained, instituted, designed
  • Forget assisted, helped, served-and
    responsible for
  • Use specific numbers when possible- dollars,
    number of people supervised, papers etc
  • See Science jobs website for other tips

The Biotech Cover Letter
  • Customized for each job
  • 3-4 paragraphs
  • First one specifically states how your
    experience fits the particular position
  • Second one lists your accomplishments
  • Third thanks the addressee and says that you will
    either call or wait to hear.

client is a recognized leader in the development
of novel enzyme products for a multitude of
industrial applications. With 50/50 support from
two of the largest, most respected biotech
pharma companies, this Joint-Venture is sure to
continue its growth and client base. Located in
the beautiful southern California coast, this
opportunity will not be around long! You will be
responsible for the design, implementation, and
management of all research in the arena of enzyme
application. Focus will be on products and
services for identified industries, and you will
oversee said research milestones and delivery in
contracted 3rd-party laboratories. Accurate and
timely documentation of results, monitoring
activities, and setting project guidelines and
goals will be required. The researching and
assembling of all relevant information for
development of new product and service concepts
in a variety of industries will also be
performed. PhD in biochemistry (or related
field) with 6-8 years of industry experience.
Proven experience with applicable, related
research is a must! Familiarity with and
knowledge of enzymes, biocatalysts, and process
optimization as they apply to industrial fields
is a plus. Now is the best time to join this
proven leader in industrial enzymes -- if this
sounds like you, please send you resume/CV (as an
MS Word document) to (Please use the application
form below) and let's talk!
Example Industry Experience Required!
Interviewing for Biotech
  • Prepare read everything you can about the
    company you are visiting/ do mock interview
  • Review the annual report, pubs of people you will
  • Be guided by the ad be prepared to say how you
    fit their qualifications
  • Show enthusiasm for the work
  • Give seminar, meet people all day long
  • No second interviews (usually)

Biotechnology Career Websites
  • http//
  • http//
  • Many job sites connect to companies-big pharma
  • Pfizer site has a lot of tips

Academia Has Many Advantages
  • The scientific questions you answer are your own
    and are not related to company goals
  • You can grow at your own pace
  • 1 grant or 3 grants 1 technician or 10 postdocs
  • You are your own boss in many ways- you decide
    hiring, travel, reviewing responsibilities etc
  • Opportunity for subsidized travel

Academia Has Disadvantages
  • You must be self-supporting in terms of dollars
    and ideas
  • You are essentially running a small company
    without having been fully prepared for some of
    the skills involved (human resources, financial
    management, lecture preparation)
  • You must be good at multi-tasking teaching,
    research, administration, reviewing -so that all
    demands are balanced

Finding Academic Jobs
  • Science magazine
  • Contacts from meetings, colleagues, your mentor
  • Bulletin boards
  • University
  • Organization websites (ASCB)
  • Job bureaus at meetings

Cover Letters and CVs for Academic Appointments
  • The CV is similar to the postdoc CV but includes
    talks teaching experience and any grants
    obtained. Should be detailed!
  • The cover letter is more generic than for
    biotech- states your intent to apply your
    accomplishments and a few sentences about your
    area of work
  • Unique 1-3 pages of your planned research
    program (or teaching philosophy for teaching
    positions) is attached to CV

Interviewing for a Faculty Position, I
  • Be prepared- know interests of faculty who will
    interview you find potential areas of mutual
    interest to talk about
  • Give a good seminar (introduction! Future plans!)
  • You will meet with 10-20 people in 2 days
  • If not science talk about shared equipment,
    quality of life issues
  • Meet with other newly hired faculty
  • Be extremely tactful with everyone no complaints!

Interviewing, II
  • If you are in the top few you will be invited
    back for second interview
  • You should have list of needed equipment
    /resources ready (core facilities?)
  • You will meet more people outside the Department
    as well as inside
  • Informal offer may be made that day or more
    likely afterwards in writing

Negotiating a Faculty Position, I
  • Negotiations for permanent positions will include
    many different aspects
  • Salary (median salary for Assistant Prof is
    currently is 70K) med schools pay more than
    undergrad institutions
  • Space (800-1200 sq feet)
  • Startup (ranges from 150K to 300K)
  • Equipment (shared or all yours?)
  • Teaching ( contact hours per year- 15-20
    eventually at a medical school more at an
    undergrad institution)
  • Committee/administrative responsibilities

Negotiating a Faculty Position, II
  • Salary is not everything- benefits can vary
  • Subsidized home purchase/loan rate
  • Subsidized health insurance
  • Retirement benefits
  • Soft vs hard money guarantees- what of your
    salary do you have to provide? (0 to 100)

Research Assistant Professor
  • Not tenured
  • Can be lab lieutenant
  • Advantages
  • Someone else writes the grants and has the
  • You can do independent science
  • Disadvantages
  • Pay Recognition Security

Clinical Appointments
  • More common these days
  • Can be tenured
  • Advantage clinical departments can generate
    revenue for your research pay better
  • Disadvantage do not want to be isolated from
    other researchers/colleagues

What Does Your Ph.D. Mean?
  • You have a broad knowledge of current scientific
    knowledge with a specialization in one area
  • You can research a problem and design and
    implement a solution independently
  • You are a motivated worker
  • You have developed communication skills
  • You have developed organizational skills
  • Therefore, you are competent to perform a wide
    variety of jobs besides research….

Alternative Careers for Science Ph.D.s (besides
  • Law- patent, tech transfer
  • Finance- business experience helps
  • Sales and Tech Support-most companies hire Ph.D.s
  • Journalism -freelance or staff
  • Teaching -small colleges
  • Public policy (science)
  • AAAS, other organizations
  • Administration (NIH, NSF, many other private and
    public organizations)

  • ASCB Life Sciences Job Hunt Booklet
  • (order free from ASCB site!)
  • Science Jobs website http//recruit.sciencemag.or

Good Luck!