Greetings Bio Careers
groupies. This month has been
crazy. If you aren’t in the business
world, then September 30th probably doesn’t mean much except maybe
Oktoberfest is just around the corner.
This month has been busy, busy, busy at AxHill, trying to get “year end”
contracts signed and everything ready for another exciting fiscal year.
I’ve gotten lots (2)
of responses to my first post and I’m excited to answer some questions. One question I get a lot from budding
entrepreneurs (read: scientists who don’t like bench work) is, “how does
science experience translate to consulting or business?”
This is at the heart
of Jason Tilan’s recent question, “given a shortage of directly applicable
experience to show on a resume/CV, do you have any advice on attending a career
fair with consulting firms recruiting? Should I wait until I have more relevant
experience before making a ‘first impression?“
and more large consulting firms are hiring Ph.D.s. To quote a partner at
McKinsey and Company, “we love Ph.D.s.”
Why do they love Ph.D.s? Because
the most important skill you get out of graduate school is HOW TO THINK. You would not believe how precious this skill
is in today’s marketplace. With Excel
telling you how to best fit any and all data, it’s rare that someone can tell
you “why” to choose a non-linear regression over a polynomial best fit, let
alone what the accompanying equation tells you about the data.
than that, at most universities you have to learn how to present your data in a
form that is understandable to the masses.
This means taking complex thought and turning it into something
palatable. The best thing you can do is
talk about your work to non-science friends and hone those communication
skills. This teaches you just how far
outside of the norm you really are (sorry, you are), and what it takes to
communicate your message effectively.
few rules here on the job-hunting front:
#1. You have to go for it. My advice to Jason
(and all those like him) is to get out there and do it. Apply to summer programs at large companies. I had a deal set up with my mentor because he
knew I wanted to go into consulting.
Just as I had spent 3 months at Cold Spring Harbor, he let me spend 3
months doing an internship at this great company. Not all PIs will go for it, but it gives you
the practice of applying to these types of companies.
#2. You are going to hear “no,” and that’s
OK. I can’t tell you how hard that is to
learn. As kids who are used to being
right all the time, having someone tell you “no” is difficult. Don’t let it dissuade you. Keep applying. Even small firms in your area are good
#3. Do what you do best: study. Getting books from companies like The Vault (www.thevault.com)
will help you with case interviews (Ed. Note: see Bookstore for
recommendations). These books also help
you learn the lingo and figure out what is important to firms. Believe it or not, analyzing binding
coefficients is not that different from understanding consumer habits in terms
of buying certain brands based on labeling.
So, don’t talk about the fact that you can add tritium to buffer, talk
about the fact that you can analyze complex trends in data and relate that data
to outcomes and forecasting.
Now you’re talking!