This post contains all of the resources I’ve shared in my past blog posts. It’ll be for you to peruse and get what you need. If you want explanations, use the links in this post to read the original blog posts. You can also email me via the Contact page on this blog if you have questions.
These insights are from my experience applying for non-labwork industry jobs with a life sciences Ph.D. in the U.S., and may not apply to everyone equally.
I do not endorse any paid career coaching service. You can get an industry job without spending money.
My Job Search Timeline
My blog post: My Ph.D. to Industry Job Search Timeline
- July 2021: Started my job search, didn’t get any jobs
- Sept. 2021: I got my Ph.D.
- Oct 2021: Stayed on for a postdoc
- Jan 2022: Started my job search again
- Late Jan 2022: Applied for my job
- Early Feb 2022: Got my job (exactly 2 weeks after application date)
- Early March 2022: Started my job
- Total time spent on job search-related activities: < 4 months (July 2021, Aug 2021, Jan 2022, Feb 2022)
Exploring & identifying roles:
- My blog post: 7 Non-Labwork Industry Jobs I Wish I Knew About During Grad School
- Technical Support Scientist
- Field Application Scientist
- Medical Writer & Editor
- Scientific Associate/Consultant
- Medical Science Liaison
- Scientific Sales
- Museum Scientist
- My blog post: 5 More Non-Labwork Industry Jobs I Wish I Knew About During Grad School
- Tech Transfer
- Associate Product Manager
- Startup Lab Manager
- Science Policy/Government
- Science Communication
- Cheeky Scientist Industry Jobs Flowchart (click on desktop for best quality) jobs:
- User Experience Researcher
- R&D Scientist
- R&D Project Manager
- Quality Assurance or Quality Control Manager
- Technology Assessment & Alliance Manager
- Health Economics & Outcomes Research
- Quantitative Analyst
- Equity Research Analyst
- Healthcare Informatics Technologists
- Business Intelligence Analysts
- Data Scientist
- Operations Research Analyst
- IP Lawyer
- Patent Agent/Scientific Consultant
- Technology Transfer Officer
- Patent Examiner
- Scientific Writer/Technical Editor
- Scientific Journalism/Publishing
- Medical Writer
- Application Scientist
- Product Manager
- Market Research Analyst
- Capital Equipment Specialist
- Technical Sales Specialist
- Marketing Communication Specialist
- Research Analyst in a VC Firm
- Management Consulting
- Medical Affairs
- Medical Science Liaison
- Clinical Trial Project Manager
- Clinical Research Associate
- Regulatory Affairs
- Clinical Data Manager
- Clinical Research Coordinator
- Clinical Research Organization
- Competitive Intelligence Analyst
- Business Analyst
- Business Development Manager
- Scientific Consultant
- Science Public Policy Advisor
- Grants Facilitator
- Science Ethics
- NIH/NSF Program Officer
- Versatile Ph.D. Career Finder
- The Grad Student Way
- Careers For Scientists Away From The Bench
- Alumni from your program that got industry jobs – doesn’t matter if it’s not the exact position you want
- More senior people in your program – they may know people
- Your school’s career or graduate resource center may connect you to alumni through mentorship programs or alumni databases
- Faculty that recently (within ~3 years) came from industry
- Departmental and program events/seminars
- Social Media
- LinkedIn – go for people who went to your school if you want something in common!
Figuring out the right fit for you:
Job responsibility/role-related considerations:
- What’s your favorite part of grad school or your postdoc? I really enjoyed conferences. I also enjoyed learning about new things at a fast pace, particularly stuff about new drugs and diseases. These things made me realize I am curious, I am happy working with others, and I like communicating science.
- What would you absolutely dislike, or not want to do anymore? I hated that experimental results could be due to things totally outside my control and how slow the laboratory research process was – it felt really unfulfilling to me. I hated academic writing, with all the verbosity and antiquated words like “seminal” and “elucidated”. My former PI literally told me to pontificate when I was writing my dissertation! These things made me realize I should probably stay out of the wet lab and work in a more fast-paced environment that uses more practical writing skills than academic writing skills.
- What are some things you don’t mind doing? I didn’t mind giving presentations and reading papers. I was fine if those aspects were part of the jobs I was looking for.
- What do you enjoy outside of your main job of research? I tutored on the side for a few years in grad school. I actually wrote all about it in a blog post about my $500/month side hustle. I really enjoyed conveying scientific information in a simple manner for a practical purpose.
- Geographical considerations: Are you willing to relocate? Do you have a partner or children to consider when making this decision?
- Remote vs. in-person vs. hybrid: What work location/setup will help you feel the most comfortable and also thrive? Or perhaps you don’t have a strong preference; that’s okay too!
- Commute: Pretty self-explanatory as well. If you land a job in your current city, what will be the commute you can tolerate?
Identifying Companies of Interest:
- Make a Glassdoor account (free) and look up companies of various industries in your geographical areas of interest
- Biospace Top 12 Biotech companies hiring now: https://www.biospace.com/article/top-12-biotech-companies-hiring-now/
- Biospace Website: Biotech companies list by U.S. location (there are more if you explore their page):
Identifying Jobs to Apply For:
- Nature Careers
- Science Careers
- USA Jobs
- Your state and city government’s job boards
- Your own university’s job board/other local universities’ job boards
- Job boards/”Careers” pages on the websites of companies you’re interested in, based on the above research
- LinkedIn/Indeed were my 2 go-to job boards, I got my current Medical Writer job by applying via Indeed
- My blog post: My resume template, example & tips
- Zety Ph.D. Resume Example and Guide for Industry & Non-Academic Jobs
- Cheeky Scientist Free Industry Resume Guide
- Note: I don’t endorse any paid services from Cheeky Scientist. Their free resources are really helpful, so I share them on my blog. I don’t think it’s necessary to pay money to get career tips to make the transition from Ph.D. to industry. A lot of career counseling services prey on the aimless insecurity that Ph.D.s have as they try to navigate making that transition. I promise I will never do that.
- University of Michigan Ph.D. Transferable Skills List: This literally changed my life.
- Remember to save each completed resume as a PDF, not a Word Document, using “YourNameCompanyName” as the file name
- My blog post: My cover letter template & tips
- 5 Must-Do Steps for the Perfect Cover Letter
- Note: I don’t endorse any paid services from Cheeky Scientist. Their free resources are really helpful, so I share them on my blog. I don’t think it’s necessary to pay money to get career tips and to make the transition from Ph.D. to industry. A lot of career counseling services prey on the aimless insecurity that Ph.D.s have as they try to navigate making that transition. I promise I will never do that.
- Resumes & Cover Letters for Industry Positions
- A super helpful guide that has information on how to dissect job listing descriptions and use that info in your resume and cover letter! They have cover letter examples at the bottom.
- BioSpace Cover Letter Guide
- This one is geared for Research Scientist positions – something I didn’t cover on my blog!
- My blog post: Top 6 Ph.D. to Industry Interviews Tips & Advice
- “Tell me about this project on your resume.”
- “Tell me about your responsibilities at (workplace).”
- “Give me an example of a time when you (technical outcome)”
- “Tell me about your experiences with (job-related technique).”
- “Tell me about a time you failed/dealt with a stressful situation/had a conflict with your boss and how you handled it.”
- “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” (Ugh, a CLASSIC!)
- Strengths: I always said my strength was my resourcefulness. If they asked for a second one, I said it was my intercultural upbringing/cultural sensitivity and ability to connect and work with people of diverse backgrounds.
- Weaknesses: I always said my weaknesses were my over-valuation of the concept of multitasking. If they asked for a second one, I said it was my directness and desire for efficiency. For any weakness you state, you should explain how you’ve worked on it!
- “What do you look for in an ideal manager/team/company environment?”
- “What did you enjoy about/learn from your time as a (previous experience)?”
What you need to know about the job listing when you interview:
- Being able to say the main responsibilities of the job off the top of your head
- Knowing the product or project you’ll be contributing to the development of
- Knowing which technical or soft skills are key to the job and what the recruiter may be looking for evidence of
- Having an idea of who you may report to or work with, which is sometimes described in the job listing
Response to “Tell me about your experiences with (job-related technique)”:
- “I have about X years of experience with (job-related technique). I developed, executed, performed troubleshooting on, and analyzed the data for a (technique-related project) that validated some of my earlier findings through identification of (important job-related outcome) and this led to (important job-related outcome).”
Response to “Tell me about a time you dealt with a stressful situation”:
- “My PI recommended we submit our review paper to a journal that I didn’t recognize. I looked into it and realized it was a predatory journal. He seemed very excited about having been invited to submit to it, so I thoroughly confirmed my findings through research as well as discussing it with the other co-author. I presented the information to my PI in a calm and clear manner, which allowed him to realize his mistake and help us decide where else to submit the paper to. Just a couple months after that little mishap, the paper was successfully published in another journal that was suitable for our target audience.”
Ways I made an emotional connection with my interviewers:
- One person brought up the fact they were just getting over COVID and said they couldn’t smell or taste very well yet and misses his coffee. I said that I hope that he can taste and smell better soon because I am obsessed with coffee and can only imagine how hard that must be, which made him laugh. I brought it up again at the end of the call when we were signing off and said that I hope he feels even better very soon, and he said he appreciated it.
- One time I was interviewing with this guy who seemed pretty different from me in a lot of ways and the conversation felt kinda stale. He was reading questions off of a list and I was just answering them. I remembered he was a scientific recruiter because I searched him up prior to the interview and saw he had a Ph.D. So when he asked about my past tutoring experience, I answered properly, and ended the response by mentioning something about how Ph.D. salaries can definitely be supplemented and he chuckled and agreed.
Response to “Tell me about yourself”:
- “My name is (my full name), and I’m originally from (country) and grew up in (country). I went to (college) where I majored in (major) and then went straight into the (program) Ph.D. program at (college) where I studied (quick phrase about what I studied including job-relevant techniques). I have X years of experience with (job-relevant techniques) and X years of experience in customer-facing roles including (role 1) and (role 2) where I (job-relevant soft skills). Although laboratory research and being in the academic setting honed a lot of my technical and scientific skills, I’ve always wanted to leave academia to make use of my training by being in a career in the biotech and life science commercial spaces. My international upbringing and my abilities to communicate science while cultivating and maintaining relationships with clients uniquely positions me to excel in a role like Support Scientist, which is why I am interested in this position.”
Response to “Why do you want this job/to work here?”:
- “I’ve always been interested in moving away from laboratory benchwork and making the most of my scientific and technical training, along with my passion for working with clients and communicating science, in the biotech and life science commercial spaces. I looked into which companies are the most influential in the area of (job-relevant techniques) and this was one of the positions I was very interested in.”
Questions I always asked when I got asked if I had questions:
- What’s the team structure like and who should I expect to be working closely with?
- Was anyone in this position before, and how are they doing now?
- What does it take to do well in this position, especially when starting off?
- Favorite parts of the job/company, and things that the company can improve on?
- How, or in what forms, do you receive feedback regarding your work?
- What are the current goals of the company and how do you see someone in this position contributing to that?
This page is always being updated, so make sure you save it and refer back to it when needed!