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Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed
Author:  Naglaa
Date:  01-25-10 10:32am
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I am a molecular biologist PhD with microbiology experience and pharmacy background (Bachelor and Masters degrees in pharmaceutical sciences). I finished my PhD in 4 years and I have 8 publications, first author on 5 of them in reputable journals. I worked as a postdoc. in Rutgers for two years then I decided to quit academia and look for a job in the private sector. In he beginning I thought it will be so easy for somebody with my qualifications to find a decent job in a pharmaceutical company. I live in Manhattan so I applied for tons of jobs that matched my skills in almost all pharma companies in NY/NJ area. It has been over a year now and I didn't get one single interview and the few responses I got stated that the job was non-PhD although advertised for as a PhD one. I am very frustrated and I started regretting getting my PhD and working very hard all of my life. May be working as a pharmacist in CVS would have been more worthy at least financially! I don't what to do and how to network to get my foot in the pharma industry!

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  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jun 19, 2014, 09:51AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   hiring managers are threatened by individuals with PhDs. Try removing it from your resume and building up on your science background and communication skill set.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jun 18, 2014, 05:12PM
    Immunology PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   I have a Immunology PhD and unemployed. To make things worst my husband is not supporting me financially even though he has a great job as he feels I should earn my own living. I really need a job badly as I cannot leave the state because of my son. Without a job I will not be able to get his custody either:-(
I feel so sad that I worked so hard and did a Ph.D. and then 2 postdocs later still am unemployed.
  Author: Tony Jul 05, 2010, 06:10PM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   Dear Naglaa,
I feel your pain - I was in the same boat 8 years ago. No offense to other posters, but I think some of the advice given is misguiding and and some is ridiculously negative for no reason. My suggestion to you would be to do two things. First, lower your target a little bit and agree to ANY starting industrial PhD position. This might mean an industrial postdoc, intern, or volunteer. This will give badly needed industrial experience and a foot in the door. Don't move to Kansas, LOL! You are in the world capital of pharma and biotech. There are probably 80% of all big pharma operations in the world within 100 mile circle around NYC. Ok, second thing: network like crazy to get your first position. You need to know someone on the inside to get a job in your target company. I appreciate all the effort you put into your search up to date, but sorry - it was mostly a waste of time. Until you are talking to someone you know professionally or socially on the inside - you are not searching for a job. At the least you need to talk to recruiters and friendly strangers in the industry. You can accomplish a lot of this using LinkedIN. Make LinkedIN your best friend - become an open networker, join industry groups, contribute to dialogue there. Your name sounds foreign, why don't you try to contact all your compatriots on LinkedIN working in pharma and biotech, first establishing a relationship with them and then asking for help finding a job? The same goes for alumni of your university. Both strategies got me interviews or valuable inside info about availability of positions. Good luck!
  Author: Paul Apr 14, 2010, 12:31PM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   Gosh, I certainly feel all of your pain. Let me offer my perspective from someone without a PhD but rather a RN.

My background is in ER/Critical Care Nursing and I wanted to get into pharma/biotech as many of you have indicated as well. As most of you know landing that 'first' entry job is a tough hurdle to make but it is possible as I have done so.

What I first did is to read thousands of pharma/biotech job descriptions/required skill sets and tried to match certain positions to my current skill sets. I then set out and spoke to many professionals who held these positions to see if they were truely what I wanted in a career. After about a year, I decided on a career path that was attractive to me.

I then narrowed my search to job postings for the job/career that I wanted and I started to 'reverse engineer' the want ads to obtain the skill sets and positions that they were looking for.

For example, I decided to go the CRA/PM/Director route in clinical research/drug development. So I left critical care nursing and took a 'study coordinator' position at a local University/VA Hospital. I took a huge cut in pay, but I was able to get some clinical trial experience that I could slap on my resume not to mention learning what the career was really all about.

Next step, I found a biotech who was willing to take a chance on me as a CRA...the pay was very low compared to the industry standards for a CRA, but hey, another foot in the door, tons of experiences that I loved and now I found myself firmly 'in the industry' as a CRA with a RN and study coordinator background to boot. My knowledge as an RN helped me in countless ways in the new role as I am sure your PhD's will be much help for you. NEVER regret your education and instead start leveraging your skill sets and see how they can help you get a leg up on the competition. Obviously, not all skill sets are equally traansferrable but if you dig deep you may find that many are adaptable to the hard skillsets that you will need.

Make every effort to stay out of the poor me - victim attitude and you will find that what education is all about is learning how to think so put your PhD brain to use.....I digress, sorry.

Next up, after a few years as a CRA, I proved my worth and was hired as a Project Manager running global clinical trials....I love it.

Next stop, director of clinical development...etc. The only person stopping me will be me. No one else has the power to do so. Keep this in mind during your career transition, especially when you receive no responses or "NO's" or when you are depressed due to the job search struggle. Spend any extra money you have during this time on a life coach or well spent to keep you away from potential depression, etc. and to keep you motivated, energized and feeling good about yourself.

Good luck everyone. I hope this post has been helpful to you.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Apr 13, 2010, 02:13PM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   I'm in the same boat, my postdoc ended and I decided I had enough of academia. I'm still plugged in though, but i've seen the game played over and over again. There are career fairs here, but no jobs. There are lots of companies, but nobody is hiring for us. If you have a BS or associates, sure, there are jobs. You can try clinical trials, which is what I'm aiming for. One thing I did do is go through Linkedin and figure out where all my colleagues were; the ones I could find, only a handful (mostly indian/chinese) were in academia; the other 70% left and quickly. A bunch did patent law, one did science writing, a couple left the field alltogether. Go find your colleages, figure out what they are doing. Maybe pharma isn't where we are meant to be. My best friend is in Pharma and he worries about losing his job every day. Good luck... Perhaps we should form a survivorship network "I have a PhD and am still a useful member of society".

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  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Feb 07, 2010, 10:43AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   With ref to "living in Kansas" post Feb6,10.35 a.m...when I tried to get into quest e.t.c,they wanted a certified technologist.I have done all of that work before in India but they wanted certification from here,which in itself takes 18 months of full time school..atleast in there any other approach to getting these kind of jobs?
  Author: living in kansas Feb 06, 2010, 10:35AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   I am going to repeat something a recruiter said to me yesterday, "reinvent" yourself and temporarily settle for something less than your dream. Don't regret your Ph.D., flaunt the skills you have to offer as a reason to get paid more than minimum wage. It is a very competitive world for few slots where experienced persons (higher wage)are vying with young inexperienced (cheap labor) and whoever has a nonstop resume wins. To the mother-microbiologist, I suggest you consider "healthcare" microbiology (hospital technologist),veterinary microbiology or plant microbiology (Monsanto)as a part time job. Consider part time work in the evenings or weekends at a hospital, clinic, reference laboratory (quest/labcorp), academia (micro dept) until the baby is older. Keep your resume with as few gaps as possible.
  Author: Naglaa Feb 05, 2010, 11:47AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   Thanks for very supportive message
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Feb 05, 2010, 09:29AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   Then don't worry,enjoy the time with your job is worth more than time with your child.With your skills you should find a job soon.Apply to smaller companies first,they are more likely to hire someone from academia.
  Author: Naglaa Feb 04, 2010, 09:50AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   Thank you all for helpful comments. I decided to leave academia but I didn't do so suddenly. I went on maternity leave then I refused extending my postdoc. contract for another year. The good thing is that I am taking care of my baby instead of just wasting time waiting for an opportunity.
Unfortunately, looking in other place such as California, Maryland isn't an option since I am geographically limited to NY/NJ. My husband has his dream job as an economist in a big pharma company in NYC and of course you all know what it means to have a dream job!
Anyway, I signed up as a member of the Association of women in science in New York and I am also trying to get an informational interview in some interesting companies which can be useful. Thanks again for everyone.

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  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jan 28, 2010, 06:49PM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   You mentioned plainly that you quit your academic job. You need to have a job to demonstrate that your employer wants you, maybe you were pregnant or something else not mentioned. Otherwise that is proof of value. That is a real handicap now. You seemed to have pharmaceutical science experience, have you tried NIH, USDA, State Governments for Regulatory Jobs, Environmental, Toxicology,...You are productive and young you better try something else. What about doing part-time work for lawyers. Otherwise, back to the pharmacy or even high school science teacher is good. Myself I run out of plan A, B1, B2, even high school teacher being a PhD in Biochemistry.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jan 28, 2010, 10:19AM
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   have you applied at MedImmune?They are hiring.
  Author: living in kansas Jan 27, 2010, 11:18AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   I disagree with the person who wrote to try Kansas. There are monies coming in slowly for research however, reference labs and private industry here have been permanently laying off people they hired several years ago with Ph.D.'s and I am one of the casualties. I had my resume retooled and have been using a variety of sources:
Aerotek and other staffing agencies, networking with researchers and company reps I got to know in my prior jobs, online resume posting, friends/family, online websites like this one and ones that belong to associations you belong to. Hang in there. I am unemployed for the first time since I started to work at age 16, therefore 29 years of working part-time or full-time. I feel your pain.
  Author: Vio Jan 26, 2010, 02:19PM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   Take a look at North Carolina, RTP is full of research companies and they hire. Example: Talecris for biopharmaceuticals and Bayer for agricultural research jobs - and there are bunch of others. Kansas is the new place to be in for research or jobs for PhD's, and so is California. Hirsch Klein posted many positions in the past but chose a recruiter other than Adam Fiore. You may have to hire an agent - at your level and in this market you need a specialist who can find the perfect job and negotiate perfect contract in your favor. Be aggressive in your search and use more than one method.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jan 26, 2010, 10:10AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   I am sorry for this. I have been in the industry for 10 years and I have a MS. I think it is difficult for everyone if you have educational experience and no real industry experience. I am learning that companies really want to have to train individuals as little as possible. Also, with the climate you have to open up your search. You may need to relocate to the Midwest or the West Coast or the Boston area don't just limit it to NY/NJ. In addition maybe have someone look at your resume and tweak it a bit chnage wording and job descriptions. In my company and my department we do hiring and interviewing as a group when looking at canidates. I really have no use for your publications and academic work in the pharmaceutical industry...its usually not related at all so when submitting a resume consider that, don't include them in your resume one by one,but maybe have the list ready when you land an interview. Network as much as possible as others have stated, join groups, join professional groups, keep your ears open and keep searching. Most do everything by internet now which kind of stinks because they are flooded with resumes. MAke your stick out some way. It is hard for everyone out here. I have been hearing from many PhD who try to transition out of academia that is is very difficult so hang in there and keep at it. Something will eventually open up.

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  Author: Gallium Jan 26, 2010, 07:23AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   As someone who has worked in the pharma industry, with all the layoffs due to mergers and acquistions, the whole industry is suffering. Although your aim might be to get into the pharma industry, maybe you are limiting yourself to opportunties. I don''t see a lot of jobs out there for pharma professionals. The industry is saturated with people from big pharma companies that were recently or not so recently laid off in the past. Have you considered working in the "green" industry ? There are plenty of start-up companies that are sprouting up all the time. My other advice is to get out there and network with family and friends. I find I do a lot better talking about what I have accomplished with people than staying home applying to jobs. Have you gone to any networking events in the NY/NJ area ? If you don''t get out there, no one will get to know you.

P.S. It isn''t easy, nobody said it was. I am unemployed after 12 years experience in industry working in both pharma and the biofuel industry. I still have to find new ways to fight my own depression. Don''t give up, otherwise you are beat.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jan 26, 2010, 07:13AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   I hear your frustration. The job market for PhDs seems much tougher than people think it is.
I recently got an interview for a job that I found out about through networking. The last industry job I had (before grad school), I also got through networking. So, I'm a strong believer that resumes that are hand-delivered are 10x more effective than those submitted through web sites. As for how to do it, can you search the web for local organizations? I go to events from the Association for Women in Science, the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, and a group "Boston Women in Biotech". I suspect I would have even more success if I started volunteering to help run events at these organizations. All these events have furthered my knowledge of the industry and given me helpful contacts.
Also, do you have any friends from your grad school cohorts who are in industry now? Or does your grad school or college have a career services office that has listings of alumni who are willing to help other alumni? These are all good networking options.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jan 26, 2010, 06:21AM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   You quit you job in academia before you landed a job in industry?

PhD + publications is fine, but using a little more common sense will likely pay more bills.

  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jan 25, 2010, 05:47PM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   Go onto website that pharmaceutical scientist go to and look at the career site and attend meetings there. Network there and attend some of meetings available around NY/NJ on pharmaceutical sciences. Also check that your resume is catered for industry position not following academia set-up. Highlights skills you have to offer. Check to see various advertisement to see that your resume reflects what they are looking in their candidates.
  Author: Anonymous Medzilla Reader Jan 25, 2010, 05:22PM
    Re: Molecular biologist PhD and unemployed   Log In to Report Post
   The lesson here is do not quit your job until you have a position lined up...

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