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Success Stories - Cheeky Scientist Association
Commercial Innovation Manager, Life Science Lead - Center for the Advancement of Science in Space
The community itself was incredibly supportive. I don’t think I’ve encountered a more supportive community before. People really would help each other. One of the things in the Cheeky Scientist materials that really helped me was the Transition Plan, and specifically the strategy. Once I had that, it made it a lot easier for me to utilize my network more effectively and also to have a lot more confidence that this was the direction that I wanted to go in.
Clinical Product Risk Specialist - Boston Scientific
I had primarily taken the same approach [to the industry job search] that I had with my postdoc applications, so my resume wasn’t getting much attention. So I knew something was missing there. That was the primary thing that was on my mind at the time, because I just wasn’t getting any sort of response from anything. [After joining the Association] one of the greatest “aha moments” was the concept of adding value. That was not something that I was used to. Another big “aha moment” was the concept of transferable skills. That’s what a lot of us coming from academia don’t really realize–if you feel like you’re missing something on your resume, that’s probably it.
Evidence Evaluation Specialist -
Job search techniques? I had none. I didn’t know where to start, and I only knew how to make an academic CV, I did not know how to make a resume, I didn’t know that it didn’t need to be longer than two pages maximum. And then networking, I’d only networked on campus, which still gave me good connections but they weren’t industry connections. So since then I’ve been networking on LinkedIn and just anywhere I go. If I learn that someone could potentially help me or I could help them, “Hi, my name is Paige. Nice to meet you.”
Technology Licensing Officer - Nova Southeastern University
First I went to the career development center at my university, and I was very disappointed with the feedback that I got. The main issue with career development centers at various universities is that the advice they give is tailored for undergrads. While going through this process I was trying to find some organization or some person that would be able to give me the proper advice. The whole concept of Cheeky Scientist being by PhDs, for PhDs, and how to transition out of academia, these three things are very unique. I wish that I had got this before graduating, but I’m getting it after graduating and now I’m in a position to help others.
Application Scientist - Benchling
Now that I’ve started working you get inundated with this whole new set of vocabulary, all these different abbreviations that if you’ve heard of them you don’t know what they mean, or you may never have heard of it and it’s totally foreign. So certainly getting exposed to some of those concepts in the SMBA, that was part of it, but also understanding different types of companies, what types of companies I want to go after, and what to look for when I conduct my job search. All that stuff really came into play.
Senior Clinical Scientist - Clinical Testing & Global Claims Group
I decided that the position I wanted was on the clinical side of personal care products, so from the technical side a PhD is enough, but this position required a lot of communication with marketing groups and also consumer insight. So after I joined the SMBA and went through the materials, when a scientific problem comes up I also see it from the consumer side, the marketing side. And I remember during my interview when I talked to a VP-level person, our conversation was more about consumer confidence in the product, and the VP gave me his business card. At that moment I thought, I probably made it this time.
Consultant - Catalyze
I took a lot of things for granted when I finished my PhD. I thought I had a unique set of skills and I would get a lot of offers and I wouldn’t have to study any harder, and it would just flow from now on. But of course it didn’t. I applied to a lot of jobs and I didn’t have any interviews, and the very few times I did, I wouldn’t get the offer in the end. I was clearly doing something wrong. When I first joined the Association I was in the middle of interviewing, so I actually did the modules in reverse order. But it worked really well, I learned lots immediately because I had to dig into it deeply right away.
Submission Writer - Novartis
After my PhD I did apply to one non-academic position and one postdoctoral position, and I got the postdoc position. I started the postdoc and then next Association enrollment period started within a few months, and said I’m going to join and see where it goes. The first thing [about the Association that impressed me] was networking. Earlier when I used to go to conferences I would sit in a lot of talks, but later I realized that you have to spend time in booths. But even if you spend time in booths, you need to know how to approach the people there properly. CSA taught me to be generally interested in the company’s product portfolio, talk to people, then develop that relationship and get the right contacts. So that was really an “aha” moment.
Application Scientist - Nanion Technologies
After joining the Cheeky Scientist Association, I realized what the different possibilities were that were available for a PhD in the industry sector. I was never aware of all the possibilities that are out there. That was my turning point, joining CSA and learning about all the different job avenues. I also loved the private group. The most important part was all the available material in the group. You look for any question, or any issue, and you’ll definitely get an answer–either from the current members, or it has previously been answered. You’re always close to your answer when you’re in Cheeky.
Research Scientist - Thermalin
Like many other PhDs, I had no idea initially that there were other alternatives for PhDs and I was 100% focused on academia. Soon after I joined my first postdoc I realized that academia might not be a good fit for me so I started searching for other opportunities, but guess what, it was not easy. Thankfully I came across the Cheeky Scientist Association and I finally joined. As soon as I joined the Association it felt like being home. You will feel the warm welcome in the Facebook group when you ask questions. You will start feeling like you’re going in the right direction.
Assistant Director, NIH Center for Engineering Complex Tissues - University of Maryland College Park
The biggest challenge for me was just not getting responses. You have your resume, you send out your cover letters, you fill out applications online, and nothing. You get those standard emails they send thanking you for your application, you don’t even get a rejection much of the time. So it was just a black hole of no responses and when that keeps happening day after day, it does get disheartening. One of the things the Association modules and training helped me realize was, I needed to streamline not just the job search, but what it is that I want as well, what I want to do day in and day out. Once you figure out what it is that you want to be doing, then you focus.
Epidemiologist - Pharm-Olam International
I had started looking at jobs outside of academia, but I was approaching those jobs with my ten-page CV and kind of getting some blank stares back. So I realized I needed to go for more of a traditional resume, but I was having trouble and looking for some resources, so that’s when I first came across the Association. Right away I was kind of overwhelmed with the support that I got in the Facebook group. It helped so much with my resume, and I’m really happy with the way everything turned out.
Management Consulting - Merck KGaA
When I joined the Association, my initial impression was great. It was a bit overwhelming, because the amount of available resources in the Association is really a lot. And when you’re so eager at that stage and really want to get a job, you just want to go through it as fast as you can, absorb it as fast as you can. One thing I found great about it was the webinars, I think the people that were being interviewed were really great. Spot on on their experiences, on the tips they shared. I also found several things in the private group very valuable. One of them was that a lot of the senior members of the CSA reply right away to your questions, as silly as they might sound, and as desperate as they might sound sometimes. They respond to them with an open heart and an open mind.
Grant Development Specialist - University of Michigan
The biggest challenge that I came up to first was really not knowing what to do. I started my postdoc in June and things were going well at first, but for some reason around September I started wondering if the faculty track was really right for me. That had always been my plan, so I really didn’t know what options were out there. I had no clue what was available, and I’d always been kind of discouraged from non-academic jobs. That was failure, basically. So there was some guilt that I was feeling, I felt kind of alone, I really didn’t know anyone who had done something non-academic, so that was one of the biggest hurdles for me to overcome. The Association really helped me see that there are a lot of great options out there, you don’t have to go academic. There are amazing career options that fit better with the lifestyle I wanted. I could do exactly what I wanted every day, live a life where I’m able to do things on the weekends.
Scientist II - Peptide Development - Plant Health Care, Inc.
Coming right out of academia, I really didn’t have very much business training at all, so I really felt like the academic playing a businessperson on TV, if you will. So I worked for a small startup company and they’re not going to be able to provide training, so SMBA was just a really wonderful way for me to get that business training, to turn me into a real business professional. The first four or five modules are great at giving you this grounding in basic business concepts. Once you’ve completed those modules, now you can “talk the talk” of business. You can talk to a businessperson, you can talk to an executive with confidence, using the proper vocabulary that is really going to speak to them and impress upon them your business acumen.
Management Consulting - McKinsey
During my PhD I considered doing something else, but my main challenge was that I didn’t know what I could do. So I was always in this mindset of trying to list what I could do with these exact skills that I learned as a PhD student, and the only thing I could come up with was postdoc. So I really failed to see any options moving forward. I was lucky enough to have a great postdoc, but when I started working more on my own I realized that I wasn’t happy as a postdoc and this was not what I wanted to do in my future life. Once I joined the Association, I really shifted my mindset. It was no longer about what can I do with the skills that I have right now, but rather what do I want to do, and then I’ll just frame my approach towards what I want to do. Just this little change in mindset really made the difference.
Research Scientist - Beiersdorf
There were two things mainly [from the Cheeky Scientist Association] that helped me in my job search. First, the first homework we get as associates is to refurbish our LinkedIn. My views jumped, I got contacted by a recruiter every week after changing my LinkedIn profile. The second thing was preparation for interviews–I had one interview, and I had one job offer. This was the first interview of my life, so I guess it really worked out with the CSA materials.
COVID-19 Environment Testing Marketing Lead - EnviralTech
I had a hard time accepting the fact that I had to network, and that my PhD and resume were not enough to find a job. Before I joined the Cheeky Scientist Association I definitely was lost. I had sent many resumes with no response whatsoever, and I didn’t know where to go. I was just lost. For me, the “aha moment” came on Day 1. I was invited to the private group, and I think after an hour I had already gotten my money’s worth.
Senior Scientist, Bioprocess Development - Seagen
Right after my PhD I knew I did not want to go into academia and the postdoc path. So I started applying for non-academic positions, but there were two problems. First, I did not know which job titles I might be eligible to apply to. The other part was that all my thought process, my resume, my LinkedIn, everything was academic. Before joining the Association I was lost, I was discouraged. After joining the Association, things started to be a lot different.
Senior Scientist, Bioprocess Development - Seagen
My biggest challenge was to get to the point where my resume was being selected, to get through that screening step and actually get through to the hiring manager. Joining the Association made me realize that I had to work on all these different aspects of how I present myself professionally in a way that people can see the value I bring to the table. [After joining the Association] I got started on networking right away, and it paid off immediately. And in terms of working through the modules, I got a very good picture of every step of the process. I thought that was very helpful, because I would spend hours trying to find this information, and having it all together in such a comprehensive manner was very valuable.
Senior Manager < Clinical Reagents & Assay Development - BD
At the tail end of my postdoctoral fellowship I started applying (randomly, of course) and getting no responses. I was really at a dead end. So that’s when I decided to get my life under control, invest in myself. [After joining the Association] for me the transition module was where I had the “aha moment”. I had assumed that I’d be using my basic skills as a scientist, and that’s all I could probably do in industry. I had no idea where to start. I realized, oh wow, I can do this too besides just being a bench scientist.
Commissioning Editor - Wiley
The thing that really intrigued me about the Cheeky Scientist Association was that it focused on PhD students, and at that time that was exactly what I was looking for. [After joining the Association] the biggest and most immediate benefit that I found was the change of mindset. Every time I was applying for a job I changed my whole approach, from my CV to the end, until I secured a job. I think that was the biggest benefit that I saw in myself.
Research Scientist - Agenus Pharmaceuticals
Before joining the Cheeky Scientist Association, I was just trying by myself. I didn’t know how to network, I was applying to jobs online, but besides the automated messages I wasn’t getting any other response or follow-up. After joining the Association I got the opportunity to introduce myself to other senior fellows who have already transitioned into industry, I learned a lot from the webinars, I modified my resume based on the key words found in job advertisements, and I changed my job application strategy. Before applying to positions I tried to network with people inside the company. That helped me a lot.
Account Manager - Workplace Safety and Prevention Services
Before joining the Association, I was looking to transition into industry. I was attending seminars and workshops at my school, but there was nothing very specific, or tools to help me transition. Definitely the first “aha moment” for me was the “Top 20 Jobs for PhDs and Postdocs”. That opened my eyes, I saw all the possibilities that were accessible for me. And from that I was able to narrow it down to the top four positions that were interesting to me and aligned with my values. The other “aha moment” was in Module 1, where you ask us to picture the type of lifestyle we want. That really helped me to figure out my vision that I had for myself, and it helped me narrow down to what I really wanted to do.
Project Manager - Eli Lilly
The Cheeky Scientist Association modules were awesome. Especially Modules 1 through 3, where it’s slow and the onus is on us to do the homework. They teach you that no one’s going to do it for you, no one owes you anything. They help you figure out what you want to do. And the group was amazing. Just a great group that helps each other out.
Regulatory Submission Coordinator - Medpace
When I decided to quit my postdoc I spent some months looking for a position, and I managed to go through some interviews but I was never very successful. So I thought I still needed to optimize my approach to the job search, so I decided that joining the Association would be a good chance to get the most out of the few interviews I managed to get. For sure the most important thing [about the Cheeky Scientist Association] was that the materials were tailored for people with a background in academia. People with this kind of background aren’t really prepared to transition into industry because you spending your entire working life in academia. You have to reinvent yourself and understand how things work outside academia.
UK Sales Manager - Stratech Scientific Ltd.
There was a very clear moment as I was trying to break into industry, that I said okay, I need help and I need to change something. It was this moment where I got head hunted by a recruiter for this job that I thought I was absolutely perfect for. I loved the company, knew loads about it, went and smashed the first interview, was going into the second interview, and then it all went wrong. I didn’t get it, and I realized I must be doing something fundamentally wrong and needed to make a change. I enrolled in tons of career development programs, I got a mentor, and I found the CSA as well. I just threw myself into everything. A huge difference between the CSA and other career development programs is that it’s run by people who have PhDs, have transitioned into industry, know science, and understand the industry really well. The advice I was getting from other sources was great broad advice, but not useful, while the advice I was getting from the CSA was so targeted, so clear.
PTD Module and Integration Device Yield Engineer - Intel
One thing that I had never realized the power of, was LinkedIn. Upon joining the Association I saw how much LinkedIn was stressed. Immediately, I’m talking less than 48 hours after I started applying some of the LinkedIn makeover techniques provided through the modules and the books that we received as free gifts, I had a recruiter reach out to me and say, “We saw that you had project management experience, do you want a job?” It was amazing, because having had LinkedIn for about a year and a half before that, no one had ever reached out to me. Just doing ten percent changes resulted in an immediate reach out from a recruiter.
Scientist - Nurix Inc.
Initially for me the main thing was making the decision whether to go into academia or industry. That’s what I was struggling with, and I was leaning toward academia. But after I decided to look into industry, that’s why I realized that my surroundings, my network, was all in academia. I was lucky enough to get a good advisor, but they had only academic connections. So I knew that I needed a strategy to get an industry job, and that’s when I was looking around and found the Cheeky Scientist Association. When I was going through the modules on the website, the first thing that really helped me was the LinkedIn module, and also learning the difference between a CV and an industry resume. And in the private group, the success stories really motivated me, especially during the time when I was getting a lot of rejections. So that really motivated me.
Development Scientist - BBI Solutions
When I first heard about the Cheeky Scientist Association, I was finishing up my PhD and thinking of doing a postdoc and trying to understand what to do after that. I didn’t want to do more than one postdoc, I wanted a clear plan for my career, so that’s when I joined the CSA. The most important information was about the CV, how different the academic CV is from the industry resume. The private group was also very useful–whenever we’d ask questions we’d get very helpful replies from the group. The Association exceeded my expectations for sure.
Development Scientist - DCN Diagnostics
I actually joined the Association because I had a job, this is actually my second industry job. I was not so happy at my company, they were restricting me in a bunch of ways, and around January of 2016 I joined the Association. My resume had gotten me a couple of jobs already, but I thought maybe I could make it better, maybe meet some people around the area, and actually I did and it was very helpful. In the private group, I really met a lot of interesting people that come from completely different backgrounds and have transitioned into industry. They were very active and very helpful.
Product Manufacturing Engineer - Honeywell
My situation was a little bit different in the sense that I was already in industry but I wanted to transition into a different industrial sector. The main challenge I had was marketing myself in terms of transferable skills to the new industry that I was targeting. That was a huge challenge for me. I had interviews, went for on-site visits, and most of the interviews I felt like I did quite well and was hoping for a job offer, but it never materialized. I started asking myself, what was it I wasn’t doing right. That’s when I joined the Association. The Association provided a lot of valuable resources, from webinars to resume resources, information on negotiating salary, and the private group.
Scientist I - MedImmune
The biggest challenge for me to start with, was just to get people to notice me, basically. You look on LinkedIn and see all these job advertisements and don’t know how to get your resume in front of the right people. That was really the first thing I needed help with, and once I joined the Cheeky Scientist Association and began learning the networking techniques, it really changed my whole job search.
Optics Engineer - SigTuple
In India when there are job openings, sometimes there will be thousands of applications, so to get noticed among this many applications, I had to do something different that other people were not doing. After I joined the Association I learned a lot, right now I’m getting a lot of responses. After joining the Association the way I’m conducting the job search process is completely different.
Technical Support Consultant - Bio-Rad Laboratories
I joined the Association because after receiving my PhD and doing a postdoc I realized that the academic path I was preparing for was full of insecurity and some peril. There were very few faculty jobs, the funding is scarce, there’s perpetual instability, and “publish or perish” culture makes it very difficult to succeed in that system while maintaining your sanity. So unfortunately I found myself completely unprepared for a job search outside academia. I had been following the Association for something like six months before I finally took the plunge and joined. Immediately after joining I was part of a supportive network of PhDs in the exact same situation. On top of that, the materials on resume building, LinkedIn, networking, and other subjects are extremely useful and practical.
Senior Chemist I - Adesis, Inc.
My main difficulty was not knowing how to approach a job search. The eye-opening stuff that I came to know from the Cheeky Scientist Association is that there is a method to this madness. You need to have an Excel sheet, you need to target certain companies, you need to know who are the contacts that you have in your network, all those things.