Author Archive | NaturalScienceCareers


My professor, the career advisor

In a seminar, we are discussing the application of a female postdoc. “You just said you never intended to have a career in academia. Why did you start this postdoc then?” “My PhD supervisor told me to. She said it would complete my academic portfolio. As the research focus of my PhD was very specific it would be better to develop a second area of scientific expertise.” “Well, can you tell me what kind of job you would like to do?” “I’d like to be an application specialist for an instrument manufacturer. I enjoy tinkering around while collaborating with other people at the same time.” “For positions like that your research topic is irrelevant. What is more important here are the methods you used and, even more than that, your soft skills. Was your supervising professor aware of the fact that you do not want a career in academia?”

To reach the position they are now in, professors have overcome impressive intellectual obstacles. The inherent danger is that they are mistaken for omniscient oracles.

But there is one thing you should not expect from your professors: to act as your career advisors. Their point of view is way too specific for that. Due to the selection criteria, the path to a professorship is usually straight forward and strictly academic, with little room for a detour to the world outside of academia. Plus, professorial self-interest can always get in the way during such informal conversations: Securing the supply of PhD students and postdocs is of course an advantage for the universities.

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Time management 8-8-8

Don´t think 8-8-8

„I can´t imagine that these jobs would be family-friendly,“ judges Maya, a PhD student. In our Women and career seminar, she already mentioned that she´s planning to start a family in the next few years. I observe how she is creating space for kids which don´t even exist yet. With a thick pen, she crosses out the options „Consultancy“, „Academic career“ and „Sales“ on her handout. Instead of asking her if she´s sure that she and her partner can get children at all. I interject, „What exactly makes for a family-friendly job for you?“ „One in which I don´t have to travel, or at least not several times per month. And ideally with flexible working hours.“


  I interrogate further. „Of course!“ another participant bursts out as if this would be the most ridiculous question in decades. „You can´t even bring your kids to bed yourself“, Maya adds. „Maybe it´s not even that bad, if you don´t do it every day“, I reply. „Your partner can then enjoy the bedtime story and all the kisses for himself. And you can enjoy a dinner and a night of sleep without interruptions.“


This seminar is not an exception. Discussing careers often goes into the same direction. We ignore entire professional sectors because we think that we can´t be successful in them while at the same time care for our families. The main reason for this rejection is that we elevate the perfect work-life-balance, the magic 8-8-8, to a mantra. We try to spend 8 hours each for work, sleep and private life.…

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The Medial Science Liaison (MSL) role

Like many of you scientists, I like exploring new pathways, learning about new subset of cells that intricately work with other cells, and most of all I like to read and discuss the new cool science with my fellow scientists. When I was a postdoc, however, the latter – reading and talking about the science – was overwhelmed by doing the day-to-day experiments, finding money and working by yourself for hours on end behind a FACS machine in a dark place and feeling quite lonely (and bored). So that fun part of “doing” science was quickly eroding for me.

I then moved into a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) in the pharmaceutical industry. A role that ticked all the boxes for me on the science menu that I missed during my postdoc. A role with fierce competition that requires diligent preparation.

As an MSL you are the scientific and clinical disease and drug expert within the medical (affairs) department of a pharmaceutical or biotech company. You are the person within the company that anyone will go to first to get answers on complex questions. This could be about how the drug is designed; which pathway it targets; how the drug works – the mode of action (MOA); questions about the disease and the patient profiles; how to prevent or treat an adverse event or questions about clinical trials from your own (and the competitor) company. This requires you to keep-up-to-date on the latest literature so you will need to read quite some (clinical) papers.…

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NaturalScience.Careers Seminars

Interview mit einem Qualitätsmanager

Interview mit Christoph Reiter (CR) CU Chemie Uetikon GmbH.


Von Sabrina Kreutz (SK)

SK: Schönen guten Abend Herr Reiter, vielen Dank das Sie sich für dieses
Telefoninterview Zeit nehmen.
CR: Sehr gerne und ich hoffe ich kann Ihnen bei manchen Fragen helfen.
SK: Sie arbeiten bei der CU Chemie Uetikon GmbH im Bereich Qualitätssicherung (QS), Was ist ihr persönlicher Background – Was haben Sie studiert?
CR: Ich bin promovierter Diplom-Chemiker und habe an der Universität Stuttgart studiert und an der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg promoviert, wobei ich den Jobeinstieg ohne Doktortitel gemacht habe. Ich habe zunächst gearbeitet und meinen Doktor nach dem Einstieg abgeschlossen. Ich habe mich also, wenn man es so sagen kann, nur als „Diplom-Chemiker“ beworben und nicht als promovierter Chemiker.
SK: Das heißt Ihr Berufseinstieg ist eher untypisch gewesen?
CR: Bei uns Chemikern ist es so üblich, dass 90% nach dem Diplom bzw. Master ihre Promotion anschließen. Das heißt also, wenn man es so nehmen möchte, habe ich keinen QS-Background, weshalb mein Einstieg in die Berufswelt eher untypisch war. Normalerweise ist es so, dass man in Forschung und Entwicklung einsteigt, vor allem, weil es durch das Studium und durch die anschließende Promotion nahe liegt. Das heißt, man forscht industriell und nicht akademisch, aber die Grundideen bleiben. In der Industrie haben sie Laboranten unter sich, wohingegen sie im Studium ihr eigener Forscher waren. Wenn Sie Laborleiter würden, hätten sie zwei bis fünf Mitarbeiter zur Betreuung unter sich. Sie selbst stehen dann weniger im Labor, sondern entwickeln die Ideen auf dem Papier und leiten diese an ihre Mitarbeiter weiter.…

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