Every day, young academic scientists are motivated to start careers in pharma.
A few years ago, I was one of them. After working for over a year in pharma, I would like to share some of my thoughts about this transition. In this post, I will discuss some helpful qualities that I collectively call C.R.E.A.M when transitioning from an academic career to one in pharma. C.R.E.A.M is short for
Communication – Many of you may recognize these abilities in yourself already. You have had to communicate your research plans, goals, accomplishments in a number of forums. However, it is important to understand how to do this in pharma.
There variety of different types of people that you will be working with and they may or may not have the same background as you. Don’t assume that because you speak well in any academic setting, that it will automatically translate over. You have a different audience with different needs with a different purpose.
This can be best accomplished by successfully learning and using the vocabulary associated with communication in pharma setting.
Resourcefulness – Here, what I mean is that you need to understand that people will many times be working with incomplete information. People may want something done, but will rely on you to deliver it without knowing how it will be done.
Your ability to draw from your previous successes in graduate and postdoctoral experience will be useful. You will need to be creative and find ways to fill in the gaps in terms of information, and process.
Energy – Like anything else you do, you need to have the drive and desire to see your projects come out successful. You got to really want it. Nothing new here.
Analysis – As graduate students and postdocs, you have learned to analyze data and determine what needs to be done next. This is a transferable skill and will serve you well. You know how to read the literature, design experiments and follow the logical conclusion. Bring those skills with you to a career in pharma.
Managment – You will need to manage your time effectively. Bring your management skills to the table. You will be in more meetings than you have in graduate school. You will need to break you projects down to actionable steps that can be completed in the time allowed. Timelines are important here so be prepared to meet them and deliver in a timely manner.
The transition from academia to pharma is just like other transitions that we have made in life. High school to college, college to graduate, and graduate to postdoctoral levels. All transitions require an understanding of what skills and values we do well, and how we can transfer use those skills for a new purpose. I love my choice and best of luck!