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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Overseas experience?

From two posts back, asking about overseas experience, in the comments - got this

My department is getting changed about and there is an opportunity for someone to run all of Europe as Product Manager or stay in the US at the headquarters for the same role. Which lends itself to more advanced career advancement? Autonomy at HQ, close to the Big Cheeses or responsibility separate but isolated in Europe?

I have been traveling a lot, and unable to update the blog, but that isn't the reason I have been slow to answer this question. The truth of the matter is that I have waffled very hard on the answer. I have argued (to myself) both sides of this. SO - please take that in to account that I don't even agree with myself.

Here are the issues as I see them.
  • Going over seas just for the sake of being overseas (strictly speaking work wise here, not general life experience) is probably not worth it.
  • What will you learn? If there is an expansion of opportunity (i.e. you will get responsibility that you won't get in the US) then it is likely a good thing? You say "same role" in your comment, but I don't ever think that is 100% true.
  • Does the company have a good track record of bringing people back from overseas? or is that where people get sent to die? If it is the metaphorical version of being sent to Siberia - then don't do it. If all of the senior people in your company have been overseas for a posting, and you think you will be staying at that company for awhile - get your butt on an airplane.
  • Are you traveling overseas for work a lot right now? if yes, that can give you a flavor. Make sure you "know" the rest of the world exists at all times or you are likely to be very surprised when something happens. If you aren't getting that opportunity right now, then an overseas posting is probably a good idea.
  • Living overseas has a lot of benefits as far as expanding your mind. There are annoyances and upsides, but overall you will be a more rounded person (outside of work).
  • You will expand your network in ways that US only based people will NOT be able to. You will, therefore, get information and have contacts that purely US based people will never have.
SO - I have absolutely no good answer for you. For me, I haven't and don't have plans to work overseas. Others around me have. I don't think they have a big advantage over me, but I spend a lot of time overseas anyway. Our CEO was based overseas for awhile early in his career, but those around him haven't been.

Kind of a toss up. If you have no family/life issues preventing you from doing it - that likely means you are early in your career, and I would likely do it. That is when I would have done it and am actually a little bummed I didn't get the chance then.

Sales experience for an app Scientist job

From my previous post, there were some questions in the comments. Will deal with them in two seperate posts.

I am less than a month away from submitting my PhD, and am frustrated with bench work. I am very interested in begining a career in industry, and specifically looking at applicaiton scientist roles.

As you yourself have said, you always hire through recruiters, however, all the ones I've spoken to keep telling me that I'll have real trouble getting a position straight out of my PhD. One of them has refused to put me forward to any of the companies she has as clients. Another one has done so, as my experience matches exactly what the client needs, but told me in effect not to hold my breath. Apparently I have to go through sales first. I don't beleive that is so, but perhaps I am misguided.

I should point out that I am in the UK, so the market here is probably different from the US, but what are your thoughts about this?

I couldn't disagree with what you are being told any more strongly than I do. "go through sales first".... ummm.. NO - I wouldn't hire you in to an app scientist role if you had been through sales first. At that point you have been taken too far away from the bench.

"not right"is very odd. In looking at our app scientists, they are all straight from Ph.D. At other companies I know of, that is mostly true as well. Several have done post docs, but far from a majority. Several don't have a Ph.D. - so that is pretty much the opposite of what you are being told.

I am looking world wide when I say this. I have full visibility in to Europe, China, and India - so this is certainly not a US only issue. I would say ex-US that it is critical that you have a Ph.D. as I don't currently see any non-Ph.D's. In the US it seems to be a lot less of an issue.

Straight out of the Ph.D. it WILL TAKE A LONG TIME to get a job. You don't know anyone, you have nothing in your favor with regards to work experience etc.... It took me 4 months, and I got VERY lucky. Others have taken 5/6/7 months.

Hang in there... you will be told NO an awful lot. I hated bench work as much as it sounds like you did - it gets better!