Tips for Transitioning from Academia to Industry

Edith Pfister, PhD - September 24, 2021

From reading a job description to thriving in your new industry position, ASGCT's latest Professional Development Café covered many aspects of the job-seeking process.

During Finding Employment in Industry from Academia, several industry speakers provided practical tips and advice on succeeding in the job hunt.

First up, Tania Gill, senior manager of global talent acquisition at Pfizer, took us through the application process and how to read job postings. She emphasized tailoring your resume to the posting to maximize your chances of success and explained how AI is used in the first filtering step. I found this interesting as this step has always seemed like a bit of a black box to me. She explained that it generally consists of software that overlays the job requirements or description with the CV, considering specific keywords. Upshot? I will most likely be more careful to tailor my CV to the job description in the future.

Next up was Eric David, MD, JD, CEO of Aspa Therapeutics, with tips on interviewing. This was perhaps the most encouraging portion of the café, as Dr. David emphasized not specific things that you should or should not say in an interview, but rather the value of presenting yourself as a whole person and telling a compelling story about your life and how you got where you are. Two concrete suggestions I took from this session were to think of three or four critical things you want to convey in an interview and then find ways to work them into your conversation, and to practice! Finally, Dr. David stressed that you have agency in the role of interviewee; an interview is as much about you learning about the company as it is about them learning about you.

Amber Van Laar, MD, vice president of clinical development at AskBio, followed Dr. David and talked about negotiation. Negotiation is a hard topic and most of us don’t want to do it, but Dr. Van Laar encouraged it. In fact, she said, negotiation is expected, but timing and manner are important. Do not bring up salary while interviewing, answer generally in the early stages. Make a list of what you want and check the offer against it, then time your negotiation correctly and be considerate in your asking. If you are going to reject an offer, be polite about it.

Finally, Rachelle Doody, MD, PhD, global head of neurodegeneration at Roche/Genentech, talked about what to expect when you begin a new job and onward. She urged us to expect little, be friendly and write things down, work to understand your job, and know what is expected of you. Make a plan and put it on a calendar, she said—good advice for any stage of your career.

If you’re looking for tips for your job search or starting a new job, be sure to check out this professional development café, which is now available on demand for ASGCT members.

Dr. Pfister is assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and chair of the ASGCT Communications Committee.

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