Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

more follow up answers to questions in the comments...

Way back here, on the post that I originally started this blog to get out there, someone new asked a question. Quoted in entirety here....

Hi. I've spent a considerable amount of time how browsing your blogs and have been throughly entertained! Thanks! I'm in my final year of the PhD (neuroscience/physiology) and it is past time for me to leave the ivory tower. I simply have no interest in the (quite flawed) current academic system where (from my perspective) great ideas are formulated and "sold" to granting agencies but are rarely implemented (or are implemented at a ridiculously slow pace). Also, spending another 10 years in medical school/residency/fellowship just does not seem like the best way to spend my late 20's and early 30's. Simply put, I'm tired of being poor and am not SO enthralled with research/medicine that I'm willing to sacrifice the next several years in a lab or in the classroom. I feel that I am very personable and have excellent analytical skills that I believe would serve me well in the business world. My question is this: if you were in my shoes (single, no kids, 25 years old, finishing up graduate school in the next 12 months, no business experience) looking to break into the business world, would you seek out an FAS type position or would you look to directly enroll in a business school? It seems to be a big financial risk to spend 60-80K on an MBA on the HOPE of picking up a quality job upon completion. Conversely, how long will have to work at the lowest rung of the totem pole before being "qualified" to take the entry level MBA job? Would my career potentially progress faster with the MBA? Any advice/insights would be greatly appreiated!

My advice is to take the FAS position. I can't find the post where I mention this (or even verify that my memory that I did so is accurate) but when I joined with a Ph.D. I was working with an MBA. He moved on and I got to see his salary. I earned more than he did. Coupled with that, Ph.D. MBA is a lot of schooling but no practical experience. I still wouldn't hire you in to my group without seeing some field/relevant experience out of you. To be blunt -> School teaches you how to think but doesn't actually teach you anything useful. By this I mean, you don't know how the industry ACTUALLY works. You have some great theories, and you have likely heard about stuff, but there is nothing like an actual kick in the teeth to really teach you. In addition, the books don't teach you how to "smell it" where "it" is anything relevant. You can text book tell me what happened, but I need you to be able to talk to people and remember that the last time you heard "that" the company went *boom* 6 months later. Anyone can look back (given enough data) and say why it happened. I want to see instincts that say it *will* happen. Those range from "They have beeen doing that assay forever and that means they are stuck on figuring out X" to "All the sales people are bailing and someone else just left to spend time with the family, which means Y".

You can't get that from class. I won't pay you for the book stuff. I will pay you for the field stuff.

You can get the MBA later once you get some experience. I heavily recommend (and may some day myself get) an executive MBA. 1 yr, with people who know stuff, doing real world problems.
Get out and get a job.

***note** the "I'm tired of being poor" so closely matches a revelation I had one day in an elevator...after I found out what professors earn in salary. Totally resonates with me. I wanted to do good work AND get paid well. Selfish that way....

Good luck!

1 comment:

Yanka said...

It's absolutely amazing how everything makes sense until you actually start looking for a job. That is when I come to a conclusion that my Ph.D. is field-wise useless. How DO you get that first experience if no-one wants to hire a "book-worm"? With the exception of summer-time gigs back in undergrad, what else can anyone leaving a Ph.D. program boast? I am confused, to say the least... I am (almost) where the other guy is -- 26, Ph.D. in Bioinformatics, no kids BUT I am married and thus stuck in the New York Metro area. One would assume that with all the big pharma around someone would take a chance on the new girl, but nooooo.... Well at least not yet. Plenty of places that want me to do pattern recognition on financial data though. So my question is this: Is it worth it to look for/take a job in consulting (hopefully closer to bio) or an analyst position in finance (don't know how that's gonna work out if I've never went past the first "intro to finance" book in my life)? Or should I hold out for pharma to come around? (alternatively: should I build a neural net to predict my chances:)?)
I would really not want to leave bio completely, but I got to eat, right?
Thanks for the advice...