Author: Claire Jarvis
If you’re a recent STEM graduate in the Boston area, or plan to relocate to the Boston/Cambridge area, it can seem like the place is home to more biotech companies than you can count! The large number and variety of biotech, biopharma and pharma companies with sites in the greater Boston area can make your job search daunting. How do you decide which companies to apply to?
First things first, you should consider the general culture of the company you’d like to work for. The working environment within a new biotech start-up is very different from a multinational company with a hundred-year history, and will suit different types of scientists. It’s important to think about what environment helps you be most successful so you can apply to places that will have the right fit. Here’s a broad overview of the main types of biotech companies, and company names to look out for if you are looking for jobs in the Boston area.
If you have a thirst for excitement and enjoy a fast-paced work environment, then joining a biotech start-up will make a lot of sense. The advantages of working for a start-up is that you can take on multiple roles within the company and are expected to be a team player, you work in a small team where each person’s voice is heard, and you can play a pivotal role in getting your company and product off the ground.
Start-ups can be a stressful place to work, and there is long-term uncertainty whether the company will succeed or still be around in a few years. The atmosphere and work culture within the company could also change dramatically in a few short years given the rapid pace of start-up growth and maturation. If you thrive on challenges and do well in a shifting landscape, then a start-up environment will be perfect for you.
New Boston start-ups to keep on your radar: EQRX, Imuneering, Korro Bio, Omega Therapeutics
Mid-sized biotech companies retain most of the dynamism of start-ups, but with more stability. As an employee you won’t need to wear as many hats, your role within the company will be fairly specialized and unlikely to dramatically change over time. Although what constitutes a mid-sized biotech company is fairly loose, it usually means the company has products in late clinical development (phase II or III trials), or has already brought 1 or 2 products to market. The number of employees will be somewhere in the hundreds.
Mid-sized biotech companies that are still growing: Acceleron, Akouos, Alkermes, Epizyme, Fortress Biotech
The large biotech companies employ hundreds to thousands of people and may have more than one location. There’s a broad portfolio of products for scientists to work on, and the company will have lots of approved products on the market. The larger the company, the more professional development and in-house training available to you, though you might also feel “silo-ed” within a large organisation where it’s impossible for you to know all your coworkers.
Some of the biggest biotech firms in the Boston area in 2021: Genentech, Moderna, Sanofi, Vertex Pharmaceutical
These days, many traditional pharmaceutical companies also develop biologics. These companies are truly multinational – their total employee counts are in the hundreds of thousands, and they have offices around the globe. The culture at these companies is often more conservative and risk-averse than at smaller, agile biotech companies, although each location will likely have its own subculture, and it’s worth asking questions about how your department fits into the whole. If you prefer stability and processes that are already ironed out, then a large biopharma company may be the best place for you.
Big Pharma companies with offices in the Boston/Cambridge area: Abbvie, Biogen, Novartis, Takeda
Are you looking for your next STEM job but are unsure about navigating the job market? At Sci.bio, we’re experts in the Boston biotech landscape. Our recruiters have spent many years helping connect talent to opportunities. Reach out and schedule a conversation with us today.