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

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bachelors + 3yrs experience vs. Ph.D.

from way back here, on my original post about being an application scientist, I got asked a question about.... well read below here.

I am working for an Australian biotech company based in Brisbane. I graduated from my research honours program 3 years ago now, originally with the intention of going back and doing a PhD after I got some industry experience and some ideas/direction under my belt.

I took a lab level job in the genetics field and have been promoted a few times through the product development team for a year and have now spent a year managing key customers in what is essentially an applications scientist position in a company that sells services/information.

I feel that I will end up stuck in this position forever as the structure is very flat and there is essentially 1-2 middle aged guys above me and then the vice president above them, no where for me to go really. Also I keep getting pulled in to other areas to solve internal operations problems etc, as I am still in touch with what the lab is doing, but I don't want to do this anymore.

I have been looking at some of the advertised applications scientist, field applications specialist etc and feel that I could do these jobs as I have extensive experience with all of the platforms listed and have proven my ability to learn new things in my current/previous positions.

Some of these positions require a PhD OR a Masters with 3 years experience. Do you think someone with an honours degree and 3 years biotech experience in a similar role has a chance? Any advice on how you think I could improve my chances would be greatly appreciated. Ideally I would like to end up in a business development or marketing role.
I cut out the beginning stuff about how great I am...

But to answer the questions. If they are willing to take a masters + 3yrs experience, then I think you are as qualified. Many masters degrees just require a bunch of classes and no bench work (and many require bench work). As a hiring manager, I have no idea if your masters required bench work, and will only know if asked. If I am looking for a position that requires a bunch of bench work + analytical thinking + some years - I am very likely to put "Ph.D. preferred" in the job description. Personally, when I write that, I kind of screen for it automatically. I will fully agree with you that I am missing good people that way, but I have to put some filter on there and that is as good as any.

Back to your question... Do I think you are qualified. Yes. 3 years in a small organization has likely forced you to learn a bunch of random things. Your description says as much. Make sure you play that up.

I think your next role is in product management/marketing. Take your ability to work in a lab - add in field experience - and you should be able to tell a good story to anyone looking for entry level marketing.


lewis.frost said...

Thank you for the words of wisdom. I haven't ruled out marketing, but haven't applied for any positions in that area either. I have recently applied for a couple of technical sales roles, as I work well with clients and making sales feels natural to me.

I think one reason I may not look fantastic on paper is the lack of a "Sales" role, i.e. I have always had to do this along with a bunch of other stuff that ends up pushing me into the scientist basket.

I am going to investigate the marketing/product manager side of things a lot more from now on. Thanks for the help & feedback!

lewis.frost said...

Update on my progress to date. Missed out an a recent field applications role due to a range of factors including inexperience and inability to relocate. Have had 2 interviews for a sales role and have a good feeling that I will receive an offer sometime soon.

All of their feedback was very positive and I was actually surprised how well I fit the role they described. Fingers crossed I will be posting again soon with details of my new job ;-)

Thanks again for all of the help.