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Is Another Degree Necessary After Your PhD?

Is Another Degree Necessary After Your PhD?

life science careers

Many scientists enter a PhD program believing their career path will be one thing — often targeting an academic position — only to realize part-way through the course that their interest lies elsewhere. Given the competitive job market for academic positions, and the lack of information about alternative careers available to many undergraduates, such changes are understandable. In a 2019 Nature survey, 45% of graduate students said satisfaction with their program worsened over time. Nearly 8 in 10 respondents expressed concerned about uncertain job prospects.

What happens if your desired career trajectory shifts radically while still a graduate student? Should you get another degree after completing your PhD?

Are you over or under-qualified for your new career?

One issue to consider is whether — in light of your new career goals — you need a PhD at all. Pharma and biotech companies continue to hire BS and MS scientists in large numbers. According to a 2019 employment outlook report from MassBioEd, the number of nationwide job postings by biotech companies for BS-level hires (approximately 115,000 in 2018) was more than double the number of postings for MS and PhD candidates (approximately 58,000 and 52,000 respectively that same year).

“I think there’s an overproduction of PhDs in many areas of lab sciences,” notes Eric Celidonio, Founder and Managing Partner at Sci.Bio. Biotech companies need scientists for benchwork, and hires with a PhD typically move out of those roles quickly. These jobs are mostly filled by BS and MS scientists.

While some specialized non-R&D roles such as Intellectual Property prefer to hire scientists with a STEM PhD and provide legal training, other entry-level roles for STEM graduates don’t need a PhD, and may be seen as an overqualification.

For many graduate students, the best way to break into a new career would involve entering the job market with a MS degree instead of a PhD and transitioning into a new role after several years of work experience, rather than seeking the ‘perfect’ additional qualification before searching for your first job.

Get another degree or acquire work experience?
Getting an entry-level position in any industry is challenging without qualifications or relevant experience. Fortunately, recruiters and biotech companies often view a couple of years’ experience as equal to — if not more valuable than — a qualification in that field, notes Brandi Byner-Burrow, a sourcing specialist at Sci.Bio.

Full-time paid work experience isn’t always necessary for entry-level roles. Seeking out volunteer opportunities is another way to showcase your aptitude and motivation for the position. For example, if during graduate school you decide to transition into science writing, start building a portfolio of clips while you are still in your program by writing for your student newspaper or department web pages. If there are local chapters of professional STEM organizations, assist them with communications. These unpaid experiences can later be leveraged into securing paid internships or entry level roles in your chosen field.

Similarly, many graduate programs offer business courses, investment, and consulting clubs aimed at doctoral scientists, providing business and entrepreneurial training while completing your PhD. The tuition fees for an MBA program is often in the six-figure range, so it makes financial sense not to complete one if you don’t need to!

Some caution is necessary if you decide to take elective courses during your PhD. Recruiters wish to hire PhD scientists who are experts in their particular STEM field, and additional coursework not immediately related to that field may detract from your research and the acquisition of technical skills. Kerry Ciejek, Managing Partner at Sci.Bio, stresses the importance of “establishing credibility” in your field of STEM training before changing fields.

Making an informed career decision

If you’re weighing up the decision to pursue another degree, it is important to gather as much information as possible from recruiters, hiring managers, and people working in your desired occupation. Ask people how they got into their current role, and what (dis)qualifies potential candidates in the view of hiring managers. If you don’t have the opportunity to network with these people in person, reach out on LinkedIn and politely request a short informational interview. Most people are happy to discuss their professional experiences, give advice, and help junior scientists make good career decisions.

Are you a PhD candidate interested in careers outside the lab? Not sure your STEM PhD is a help or a hindrance to finding your dream job? The experts at Sci Bio are here to help. Get in touch with us today.

Most In-Demand Majors in Biotechnology

Most In-Demand Majors in Biotechnology

Working in the pharma industry remains an attractive employment prospect for many STEM graduates and PhDs, and demand for new employees continues to rise. However, the biotech and pharma industry has changed a lot over the years, and so has company hiring preferences. If you’re a student or recent graduate, you are probably wondering what are the most in-demand majors for pharma companies right now. And, perhaps more importantly, what is driving demand?

Recent Hiring Trends

In recent years, the market for biopharma has expanded steadily. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biotechnology jobs are expected to grow an additional 10 percent by 2026—faster than the national average across all other occupations. In 2018 the biotechnology industry employed nearly 215,000 people in the United States. This industry is spread across 35 states, with hot spots in Massachusetts and California.

According to a 2019 report from MassBioEd, which analyzed majors specified in job postings, the most in demand disciplines for PhD-level hires among Massachusetts life science employers were statistics and biostatistics. Chemistry and biology majors remain in high demand at Bachelors, Masters and PhD level, but for Bachelors level hires, computer science, bioengineering and engineering majors were also highly sought after.

Experienced life science recruiters also note “an uptick in demand for engineers of all disciplines: particularly chemical and biomedical engineering” over the past few years, explains Brandi Byner-Burrow, a sourcing expert at Sci Bio.

Engineering and Problem-Solving

It is important for students to not just identify which STEM majors are in demand right now, but to understand why pharma companies are seeking them out.

For instance, pharma and biotech companies are seeking out engineers for their problem-solving abilities. “(Companies) like their hands-on ability to troubleshoot and tinker, fix and build things using critical thinking ability,” says Kerry Ciejek, Managing Partner at Sci Bio.

The demand for engineers at the expense of other STEM majors is motivated by the perception in industry that troubleshooting and problem-solving isn’t taught in many advanced degree programs. “PhDs in academia are not really trained to solve the product development problems. A lot of the work is based on mechanistic, basic research. That’s still needed in industry, but not to a large extent,” says Eric Celidonio, Founder and Managing Partner at Sci Bio.

When they are not seeking versatile problem-solving STEM PhDs, these companies prefer to hire candidates with highly-specialised technical backgrounds that fit ongoing drug discovery programs. For example, a biotech company won’t look to hire just anyone with a microbiology PhD — instead they may want a microbiologist whose area of expertise is a particular bacterial strain such as C. difficile. If a life science PhD without a niche focus cannot demonstrate broad problem-solving skills to make up for it, it limits the number of opportunities they’re eligible for.

Robots and the Pharma Industry

Another major shift in the pharma industry which affects hiring preferences is its move away from small molecule drug discovery — traditionally the expertise of synthetic chemists — to emphasize biologics and automated drug discovery processes. IT and robotics are more prevalent in pharma, and with it the demand for scientists who can parse data and incorporate robotic technology and AI into their daily workflow.

Not only are pharma companies seeking to hire more data scientists, statisticians and computer scientists — they want bench scientists with IT skills. “There’s a huge IT component to the job now,” explains Celidonio. Bench scientists now have access to automated technology to pipette liquids and run high throughput screens, and they need to be comfortable using the technology and fixing it when something breaks.

How much does your major in biotechnology matter?

As a STEM major or PhD candidate, you must be aware of trends in pharma hiring and jobs that will be in demand after you’ve completed your degree in biotechnology. Your choice of major or MS/PhD program should be informed by the number of industry jobs in your area of expertise available upon graduation.

The best advice for students seeking an industrial career is to expose yourself to industry in undergrad through internships, co-ops, or summer jobs. If you can’t secure work experience, look online to see what jobs companies are hiring for, and which majors or technical qualifications are in highest demand.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t panic if your major is not currently top of the most in-demand list, or demand seems to be waning. If you’re already part way through a program, there are ways to increase your attractiveness for recruiters and hiring managers regardless of your major. This includes obtaining relevant work experience, and improving your public speaking and communications skills to make a better impression in interviews.

When you’re on the job market, a clear outline of your technical skills in job application materials or LinkedIn profile will make it easier for recruiters to find you when they seek qualified candidates in your area of expertise. It’s not enough to just have the degree; you must be able to show that you have the critical thinking and technical skills to really use it in the industry.

At Sci Bio we understand the biotech industry’s changing landscape, and use our expertise to ensure hiring managers and job candidates find their perfect match. Get in touch with us today.

Unforeseen Challenges For Working Moms During The Pandemic

Unforeseen Challenges For Working Moms During The Pandemic

Teacher, nurse, nutritionist, psychologist, driver, security officer, event planner, waitress, referee, entertainer, comforter or in other words, mom. Moms naturally perform a balancing act. Adding work to the intricacies of motherhood further fuels the complexity of family life.

The pandemic has brought many unforeseen challenges to women of the household.

“Study after study finds that women shoulder more of the child care, more of the housework in families… men are doing more around the house than a generation ago, but the Labor Department has found mothers still spend almost twice as much time on child care and chores. So you add to that virtual school, and women are just saying this is too much.”¹

It is too much. What are the options in this scenario? According to a recent article, 2.2 million women have left the workforce since the pandemic began² most likely feeling that they had no other choice. A supportive work environment is crucial to keeping parents in the workplace and SciBio is a company that understands this.

Founder & Managing Partner, Eric Celidonio’s goal is to create a flexible environment that values performance, recognize contributions and provides meaning. Eric says “We love the fact that we have a lot of working moms on the team. We have a need for flexibility and so do they.” How do moms on the team feel? We surveyed our moms and here’s what they have to say.

  • 90% of them say flexibility is provided by SciBio which is so instrumental to parenthood
  • 90% of moms who have worked in other companies agree that SciBio is a supportive environment for working parents
  • 100% of moms say the ability to work from home and create their own schedule has greatly benefitted them

Hear from some of our working moms:

Kerry C: “Sci.Bio is a flexible environment where having kids doesn’t mean putting your career on hold. Management prioritizes family and never makes you feel like your work should come before your family…I feel lucky to be here, working for this company that supports me and allows me flexibility.”

“Sci.Bio is a more supportive environment for working moms than other places I’ve worked in the past. It definitely alleviates some of the stress that invariably all working moms feel when doing the daily juggle”

Sandra T: “Working moms need flexibility and understanding. Sci.Bio does more than just permit you to make your own schedule and/or look the other way when an urgent family matter takes center stage; Sci.Bio encourages us to seek balance in ways that fulfill and restore us.”

“In previous companies, it seemed there was a divide between working parents and child-free employees who could dedicate 10 hours/day…Our leadership understands that we’ll get caught up as soon as possible, and they see the results we produce. It’s a much more nourishing environment.”

Allison E: “The majority of my colleagues are also working moms or parents, so they get it. It’s a relief to be able to juggle kids and work and not feel that I have to hide any part of my life. At Sci.Bio, we have always had flexible schedules and the ability to work independently, so I have always been able to work during the times in my day that the kids don’t need me (hooray for nap time!).”

“Without this flexibility, I wouldn’t be working. I would be another statistic, another mom who drops out of the workforce because it simply doesn’t support parents, and mothers in particular. I was never willing to sacrifice time with my children just to be in an office for 10 hours a day–it’s unnecessary. Losing women in the workforce negatively impacts all of us, and it’s past time to make changes to allow people a life outside of the office. The flexibility we have at Sci.Bio has allowed me to retain other parts of my identity besides being a mom, which so many women aren’t able to do–and maintaining those other aspects of who we are makes us better moms AND better workers”

Shereen D: “At Sci Bio the flexibility is an amazing benefit, I never feel pressure or guilt when I need to focus on my family.”

“I always considered myself to be very organized but being a mom has intensified this skill. Being a first time mom is challenging and actually remembering that you need to stay organized is key! Working at SciBio has helped me balance life as a doting mother and a dedicated employee.”

Between cuddles and conference calls, reading picture books and reading emails, working moms have a life filled with laser focus and optimal efficiency. Looking at these daily experiences, we celebrate the unsung heroes in the workforce, and look forward to continuing to meet their needs in a work environment.

Sci.Bio is a leading recruitment and search firm based in Boston. We specialize in finding and hiring the best talent to fill temporary openings, long-term positions, and executive roles in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries.

Resources:

¹ https://www.npr.org/transcripts/919517914

² https://www.abccolumbia.com/2020/12/01/mothers-leaving-workforce-may-take-toll-on-the-economy/

Concrete Steps to Recruiting the Right PhDs

Concrete Steps to Recruiting the Right PhDs

Top tier PhD talent have their pick of jobs. You can’t sit passively by and hope that they come across your job posting. You need to attract them. Here are six ways you can effectively recruit quality PhD-level talent for positions at your company.

 

  1. Emphasize Impactful Work – Something like assay design may not sound interesting or impactful, but in the bigger picture, it’s critical! PhDs want to know that what they’re doing is making a difference. Be sure to reference industry, patient, or scientific outcomes in the job description. PhDs don’t like doing the same thing over and over again – offer clear pathways for leadership and skills development. Not only should they be able to do the science, but they should be able to communicate as well. What professional development opportunities do you offer? If your company has different divisions or research areas, encourage the scientists to cross-collaborate to learn new skills and gain a broader perspective of their role in the company. Consider a conveyor belt model where senior scientists train the new scientists, who will later train the next set of scientists. Coupled with skills development opportunities, this will ensure that your company is keeping pace with advances in the field.

 

  1. Create and Maintain a Talent Pipeline – Building relationships with programs, schools, labs, or even specific candidates who might be a fit for a role down the line is a great way to get your company recognized as committed to developing qualified talent. Good, niche, recruiters who know the industry will have an advantage in knowing where to find candidates and already have some personal and working relationships to jumpstart the recruiting process. Attract graduate students at job fairs, offer career coaching services, or host networking events at universities so that when a specific position opens, you have a direct pipeline to PhDs who will fit. Consider sponsoring a scholarship or offer internship opportunities so that you can build those relationships early and nurture them down the road. This also ensures that the PhDs will be trained in skills relevant to your company. This allows you and the candidate to form both a personal and professional relationship, which will make you more able to demonstrate your commitment to fostering long-term relationships and will make them better able to tailor their application material to your job posting.

 

  1. Personalize the Invitation to Join – Top tier PhD talent likely already have good jobs and are very unlikely to passively come across your job listing. They need to be recruited. Not only that, but they want to be recruited. They want to feel noticed, recognized, and desired. Consider holding virtual job fairs with a core focus (for example, bioinformatics or process development) to create personal connections. Or connect with them through LinkedIn and send a personalized message based on their profile and summary sections. What does your company have to offer that others don’t? Why do you think they would be a good fit? Just as job applicants are expected to do research on companies to tailor their application, do some research on the talent and tailor the invitation to apply. Recruiters can help streamline this process by having a conversation with the hiring manager and matching company values and required skills with PhDs.

 

  1. Focus on Company Culture – You want a team player, a leader, and a person who’s all around easy to work with, but also has a sharp eye for science. But does your company culture support this, and is it transparent? PhDs want an environment where they can learn, grow, mentor, and be mentored. They are curious people and want the freedom to explore and generate new ideas, not be micromanaged. Consider polling for sentiment and adapting company values to align with employee values, rather than focusing solely on leadership’s aspirational ideas. Demonstrate your commitment to well-rounded development by encouraging volunteering time to a cause congruent to company values. Allow flexible hours; after all, PhDs have track records of being productive in a flexible working environment. Hold team-building events to create a strong sense of community.

 

  1. Recognize Personal Achievements – Nobody wants to feel like a cog in a machine, and PhDs especially need to be recognized. Coming from academia, they are used to publishing papers and getting credit for their work. In industry, there are typically less opportunities to publish – so how are PhDs recognized? Consider regular promotions and/or raises based on a transparent salary scale, or merit acknowledgements for years of employment and other achievements. Generate a company newsletter that highlights what people are doing both in and out of the work environment. Include an employee spotlight section to highlight contributions to projects and other personal achievements. Make them feel unique and valued.

 

  1. Offer Compensation Transparency – Being clear about levels and associated salary ranges early in the recruiting process helps both your company and the candidate determine if the role is a fit. Articulate bonus structure, equity, and other non-monetary benefits clearly to help top tier PhDs evaluate their options. Recruiters can help here by having these conversations up front to ensure everyone is on the same page with regards to expectations. After all, there is nothing worse than finding the perfect candidate only to find out after several rounds of interviews that their salary expectations are much higher than what you can offer! Have your Human Resources department perform regular compensation and benefits analysis to make sure you’re offering a competitive and transparent package.

 

In conclusion, recruiting top tier PhD talent requires you to put thought into your company beyond a mission statement and job listings. Create a company culture that recognizes excellence while offering plenty of room for personal and professional development. Remember, it’s not just about the bottom line – it’s about building a sense of community grounded in professional and personal excellence to attract quality candidates to your company.

Why Is It So Important to Continue Acquiring Job Skills?

Why Is It So Important to Continue Acquiring Job Skills?

It is easy to become complacent and think you are the expert in your position, especially if you have held your position for some time. It may be tempting to assume that you have all the skills and knowledge you need to continue being successful. But in every field, things are constantly changing—new technology, techniques, and ways to make your field better. If you don’t keep yourself up to date on your field’s new developments, you may find yourself left behind.

Not all companies provide comprehensive professional development to keep their employees up to date on their knowledge of the field, so it is crucial that you seek it out on your own. Here are some reasons to stay up to date on advances in your field.

To remain competitive in your position.

Even if you feel secure in your position at work, you should make sure you remain competitive with new people coming into the company and that you are as knowledgeable about the advances in your field as your coworkers. The goal of any job is to be the best at what you do, and the only way to do that is to be able to master the new skills you will need to continue to be the best. If you haven’t taken the time to learn about the newest advances in your field, you may not be as valuable in your position as you aim to be, which could eventually put your job in jeopardy.

To increase adaptability.

You never know when things at work will change with no warning. Your company may have a new CEO come in, or you may get new team members who bring more to the team. If you are up to date on the advancements in your field, you will be able to adapt to changes that happen rapidly because you will already be aware of the new way of doing things. The new computer program at work? No problem, you did a training recently on the newest technology in your field. Now you can adapt and change your position to fit the new technology you need to use.

To get a promotion.

When you start working at a company, your goal for the future, your goal is most likely to be able to move up in the chain of command and get a promotion over time. The best way to impress your superiors is to keep yourself up to date, learn to adapt to new ways of doing things and stay knowledgeable about the advances in your field. Knowing the latest information and using the newest technology will make you more relevant in your position. You will have a better chance of being noticed and promoted by your boss because you present as the best in your position.

Prepares you for a new position.

Experience is important when applying for a new position, but knowledge is as well. When you apply for a new position, you want to look your best and show how knowledgeable you are about your field. Being up to date on your career training and knowing how to use the most recent technology in your field will show how much of an asset you will be to the new company. Make yourself stand out as the best and most qualified in your field so you can get the position you are looking for.

Knowledge keeps you sharp.

Continuing to learn about the field you are in will not only help you in your position, but it will keep your mind sharp as well. Being complacent with the knowledge you have is not the way to move forward in your field. Staying a “student” and continuing to learn the most recent advances will sharpen your mind because you will be learning and challenging yourself to be better.

It is so important to continue to learn about your field of expertise. You don’t want to be left behind when there are new advances in your field that you have not learned yet. The last thing you will want at work is having a new person hired that can do a better job than you because they know about the most current information and technology in your field. It is as easy as signing up for an online course and devoting a few hours to learning something new every few months. Consider it a part of your job that you can make fun and exciting! Learning new things is often enjoyable and you will be able to put that knowledge to good use at work!

 Sci.Bio is a leading recruitment and search firm based in Boston. We specialize in finding and hiring the best talent to fill temporary openings, long-term positions, and executive roles in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries.  

What Are the Top 5 Ways to Stay Motivated When Searching for a New Job?

What Are the Top 5 Ways to Stay Motivated When Searching for a New Job?

Looking for a new job can often be tedious. Day after day, applying for the job you think could be it and then getting a rejection (or even no response at all!) can affect your motivation to keep trying. Ultimately, to find a new role, you need to move forward even if you feel like you may never get hired.

So what can you do to get out of that funk and back into your job search with positivity and new focus? Here are our top 5 tips for staying motivated on your job hunt:

1. Surround yourself with positivity

It is crucial to stay positive throughout this process, even if it seems impossible. Surround yourself with the people who believe in you. Negativity can rub off on you easily if you spend too much time around those who don’t have a positive outlook on the situation. The pandemic has affected Americans in more ways than just staying physically healthy; the social, psychological, and financial impacts can’t be ignored. However, constantly hearing “how bad the situation is” and sharing doom and gloom stories will zap your motivation. Consider seeking out friends and colleagues who tell you “to control what you can,” “keep pushing,” and “you will find the right job.”

You can also join online groups for people who are in the same situation. Knowing that there are others in the same boat can be reassuring. You can also network in these social media groups and online forums. Maybe someone knows about a position that was not right for them but maybe the perfect fit for you! Having support from those in a similar situation can be comforting because it reminds you that you are not alone in this search.

Taking a break from the job search and doing positive things for yourself is also important. Set aside some time to meditate or do yoga, go for a walk, or join an exercise class. Maybe do a virtual paint night with your friends or go out to dinner with family (safely, of course.) You have so many options, even with the social limitations we are dealing with, to do positive things for yourself and help your mind stay in a strong, positive, motivated space.

2. Plan your goals and only focus on things you can control

Take the time to set goals for yourself and write them down so you can look at them anytime you feel you need to refocus. Getting stuck on the fact that you did great on an interview and still didn’t get hired or knowing your resume represents you perfectly, but you still haven’t gotten the call back for the job you wanted, will not help you get a job. All it will do is further frustrate you in an already difficult situation.

Decide on the things you can do to help yourself get a job, such as:

  • -How much time you will spend on each job site.
  • -How many sites you will apply on each day.
  • -How you will network to help get yourself out there to hiring companies.
  • -When you will take mental health breaks.
  • -What are your target companies, or what is your target industry?

Making a list like this will not only keep you organized, but it will help you stay motivated to keep going as well. It is best to focus on what you can do to move forward if you want to motivate yourself to keep going in this difficult situation.

3. Set up a schedule for yourself

The best way to transition from working full-time to job searching full-time is to set up a schedule for yourself. You want to stay productive, but you don’t want to overwork or underwork yourself and waste the day away now that you are scheduling your own day. Set a time to wake up every day and map out when you will be following your list of goals so you can focus on what is important and stay positive about your search.

4. Search smart, not hard, and focus on your career goals

Many people who are searching for a job apply aimlessly online, hoping they will get a call and get hired. The best way to approach your job search is to focus on the companies you want in the industry you want to work in. You can apply online within your schedule, but you should focus your time and energy networking and reaching out to hiring managers who work at the companies you are interested in. Finding the right job may be as “simple” as connecting to a hiring manager that has an unlisted or hidden job opening that you would never have known about if you hadn’t gone the extra mile.

5. Learn to accept rejection and grow from it

When you are searching for a job, it is hard not to take it personally when you are rejected for a position you feel is right for you. Unfortunately, it is impossible to control when and where you will get hired, and there are many other factors at play besides how well you interviewed or how perfect you think you are for the role. The best way to deal with this difficult situation is to learn from any feedback offered, hold your head high, and keep moving forward. If you let the rejection get to you, it will affect your motivation and only make it harder to get the job you are looking for.

Keep in mind, it is ok to stumble sometimes. This is not an easy process, but you can find that perfect job if you keep yourself in a positive frame of mind and keep pushing forward. It may not happen right away, but if you let yourself get into a negative mindset it will only take longer! So take a deep breath, dig in and find the job you have been searching for.

Sci.Bio is a leading recruitment and search firm based in Boston. We specialize in finding and hiring the best talent to fill temporary openings, long-term positions, and executive roles in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries.