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A career in Biotech can be very rewarding. It’s an industry that develops cleaner energy sources, furthers medicine and cures, and develops higher-yielding crops to feed the world’s growing population.

Whether you’ve spent the past few years working on a Ph.D. or are about to finish your first degree, entering the biotech industry is an alternative to the more conventional life-science paths that lead through medical school or end in academia.

But it can be tough to know where to begin. And with the uncertainties caused by COVID-19, it can be hard to identify current job opportunities. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin your new career:

  • Do your Research

With any job, it’s important that candidates do proper research – not just about the job they’re applying for, but about the company they’re hoping to work for. Target companies you’re interested in reaching out to and check out their websites. See if you know anyone who may work at the companies and reach out. Get an understanding of what the organization does, their corporate culture, the leadership group, etc.

  • Find a Mentor

Whether it’s a professor or an established professional in the field, a mentor can go a long way toward helping new grads get their feet in the industry door. Identify one or two potential mentors that you feel you can build and nurture long-term relationships with. Mentors can be advantageous in advancing your career, providing sage advice and guidance based on their experience and expertise.

  • Build your Network

Just like doing good science takes collaboration, so does building your career.  Build a strong network for both career growth and increased learning.   A network of peers can be a valuable group to brainstorm with, glean best practices from and learn about new technologies.

  • Be Aggressive but Be Patient

It may be difficult for new grads to do, but not jumping at the first job offer can be the key to finding a great job. Students with STEM degrees are in the driver’s seat in the current economy and don’t need to settle for an immediate job offer. Pharma/biotech companies aren’t always the first on campus, so be patient and use due diligence to find the right role. When you arrive at the interview, ask questions about the job expectations and responsibilities to get a good feel for the position.

  • Accept an Internship

As a newly minted grad, what you’ve done (work experience) is often more important than what you know (degrees, awards, etc.). An internship that allows you to work in your chosen field will enable you to gain a practical understanding of what it’s like in the real world. It can also provide opportunities to build relationships and show potential employers that you have work experience – giving you a head start vs. the competition. Lastly, some companies hire interns once their term has been completed.

A Final Thought

If you know a biotech career is right for you but aren’t sure what type of position would be best, it’s important to reach out to the industry professionals. Creating a network of working professionals can help you decide on your career path. Also, working with an experienced biotechnology recruiter will remove a lot of the time and stress in finding your first job – and the right one.