Being a scientist is not just one thing!
This is the advice I keep sharing across my social media platforms and when I do science talks to try and break down the stereotypes associated with being a scientist and also to try and inspire the younger generation to get involved in STEM (that’s science, technology, engineering and maths!) and STEM careers!
I will be the first to admit that as I was growing up and pursuing my Molecular Biology degree I thought that being a scientist meant being at a bench and doing experiments! But how wrong was I!? In the last year or so, I have met so many different scientists from such a wide variety of careers – which has seriously opened my eyes to the incredible variety in my options and all the paths YOU too can take!
So, as I’m battling through this final year of my PhD, I want to explore as many career options as I could to see what was right for me. But I thought I could share any experiences and advice with all of YOU too! Whether you are like me and starting the search for your first post-PhD job, whether you have realised bench work is not for you, or you are looking what career options there are after you have done a science degree, I am hoping this new mini feature will broaden your horizons to what is actually out there!
Today – I have a guest post from one of my previous Scientist in the Spotlight features Sophie P. I was thrilled when Sophie agreed to write a short post about her Scientist Life after PhD as I love her blog and IG feed! Plus I’m slightly jealous of her new career! So, I’ll hand you over to my guest blogger, and I’m excited to re-introduce you to Sophie P.
Hello Everyone! My name is Sophie, I’m a scientist and blogger over at thescientificbeauty.com. I was so thrilled when Soph asked me if I’d write a guest post for her blog as I’m a huge fan!
I wanted to write about my transition from the PhD lab bench to my new life as a Medical Writer. From very early on in my PhD in biochemistry I knew that life in the lab was not for me, but that motivated me to explore other avenues. I’ve always loved writing and really discovered my passion for it through blogging as an escape from the stresses of the PhD; if only there was a way to write for a living whilst still putting my PhD to good use…
It was at a careers event through the university (definitely go along to every career event you can!) that I discovered the medical communications – or medcomms – industry. I knew right away that this would be the career for me as a science background is required (PhD preferred) and there is LOTS of writing involved!
So what is medcomms?
Medical communication agencies work with the pharmaceutical industry to drive their pipeline development. Anything that involves written material, from primary manuscripts to internal training modules, from conference presentations to apps for patients, big pharma tend to source this out to a communications agency. Agency teams will work with their clients over a number of years, becoming experts in the area of the particular drug, often helping to develop the companies publication plan. It is often drugs that are in phase II or III of the development process that require medcomms assistance, which is when things start getting really exciting! I’ve written a post over on my blog on more of the specifics of what I’m doing in my career which you can check out for more information.
As well as working at a desk a Medical Writer also gets to do a fair bit of travelling; in 4 months on the job I’ve already been away twice! My first trip was to Barcelona to help run an internal training course for the client that we’d developed all of the print and presentation materials for. My second was to Madrid for the ESMO conference, the European Society of Medical Oncology congress with over 24,000 delegates! It was a hectic trip; I was doing congress coverage, which means attending sessions to report back important competitor data, and to help run an industry-sponsored symposium. We’ve been working for weeks on the slides and the print materials for the big day, liasing with the eminent speakers and making sure the technical team knew what they were doing. Last-minute slide previews with the speakers can mean late nights making changes to the slides but thankfully everything went without a hitch and we were able to enjoy a night out in Madrid afterwards!
There are lots of things that I love about my new job. Apart from the fact that everyone is helpful, friendly and works together as a team there’s lots of scope for career progression. You also get proper holidays, bonuses and if you work over a weekend (mostly if you’re at a conference) you get the days back. The job itself is also varied, with a huge range of projects to work on, all at the absolute cutting edge of medical research. It’s quite humbling to go from being stuck in the back of a lab, doing research that might help people at some point in the distant future (my PhD wasn’t particularly patient-focused) to working on projects for drugs that are about to be approved and are already helping thousands of people through clinical trials.
To get the job you’ll have to have an interview and pass a writing test, but if you enjoy writing this isn’t anything to be worried about. Be sure to visit as many careers events as you can; if you’re based in the UK, I would highly recommend checking out firstmedcommsjob.com, their website has tons of information and regular events to find out more and meet HR representatives from agencies in your area. I’m always happy to answer any questions via social media too and I have other posts about my experience with medcomms over on my blog! Best of luck with the search for your dream job!
Huge thank you to Sophie for sharing your experience. Make sure to check out Sophie’s blog The Scientific Beauty and follow her on Instagram and Twitter to ask any probing questions you might have about a career in Medcomms.
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