2 posts ago, Bill commented that
I think a lot of PhDs are probably biased against "customer service" type jobs.
which sort of resonated with me. I totally agree with him. So many in academic labs only see their sales rep from a company (could be ours...) come in and try and sell them stuff. AND - quite rightly you think those folks are possibly a bit slimy, probably pretty stupid, and you could never see yourself doing that.
For the most part you can't do that job. Most, certainly not all, of the academic sales reps do not have Ph.D.'s. Some do, but they move on and upward pretty quickly.
I didn't go the route of academic sales rep.
I went commercial sales rep. When selling to companies, you are generally selling something that costs more. You show up where you are going with an appointment (or they won't let you through the door) and you are, in a sense, "wanted". You are not cold calling, which is what you mostly see the academic sales rep doing to you (just as you are doing something that can't be interrupted).
It is a totally different world. You, as an academic lab person, don't know anything about it and should not be freaked out by it.
****non-sequiter**** but sort of related.
I think the point of seeing the top people in our company all have that similar background points not to what they did early in their careers as a function of getting there. I think it points more to the type of personality that does those jobs well.
To say that more clearly -> the kind of person who is going to thrive in a field position and who is, as a side benefit, going to be able to move up the corporate ladder, is an extroverted scientist.
Extroverted Scientists apparently, and a recruiter just explained this to me again, don't really grow on tree's. They are, in fact, a bit rare. I keep searching for them to fill the bus dev roles I have and keep getting hammered by it.
For those who are not naturally extroverted this has to be harder. As I am, as somewhat of an understatement, pretty extroverted -> I have no idea how to do it as an introvert.
So - To put the two parts together.
Ph.D.'s do need to get over the "service job" as the experience that you have of the reps calling on your lab doesn't map to the kind of job you should get.
Extroverted Scientists seem to end up in the field naturally, and people at the top of the places I work are all extroverted, so I would say the label is that extroverted people migrate to the top and they happened to have been in the field NOT that they were required to be in the field.