Part 1 of 4 on “Exploring Careers in Industry” by SfRBM Nominations/Leadership Development Chair Anne Diers, Ph.D. (Dr. Diers on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annerdiers/)
This might sound obvious, but “Industry” is a really broad term – so when you think of a job in industry, you’re actually talking about many huge sectors of science. The available jobs will be very different based on what you’re looking for. So you need to ask yourself a few questions to narrow in on the type of position you’re interested in. Do you want to be bench-facing? Would you like to manage a group of scientists? Do you love writing about science? Do your interests lie in product development, management, pharma, bio-tech, or instrumentation? These are obviously critical questions and you have to answer them for yourself. If the answers aren’t obvious, spend some time exploring different areas of non-academic science. myIDP at Science Careers is a very helpful tool in this respect (myidp.sciencecareers.org/). In fact, there is an incredible wealth of information on Science Careers itself. Another good way to get a handle on what you're looking for is to talk to people doing these various jobs. Talk to your sales reps, see who they know and if they can connect you to people, set-up informational interviews to find out what people actually do in their jobs.
Looking at job sites for current openings can also help you refine your idea of an ideal position. First, you’ll see what opportunities are already open. But second, and more importantly, you’ll get an idea for what job titles match the job you want to do (and for which you have the necessary experience). You’ll start to develop a feeling for whether or not you want to be a Field Applications Scientist, or a Program Manager, or whatever, based on those descriptions. Then, when you find yourself in conversation with your sales reps, colleagues, or faculty, you can say to them “I’m looking for an entry-level [ideal position for you]. Have you heard of any openings for this type of job at [their illustrious company]?” This instantly gives you some credibility… and rightfully so. It means that you have done your homework, and you have a real idea of what you want to do.
In part 2 of this series, Dr. Anne Diers will explore the topic “Where do I want to work… and who already works there?” In her series “Exploring Careers in Industry.”