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Industry Transition Spotlight: Defne Us, PhD

An interview with Defne Us, PhD

What is your name, your full job title, and the full name of the company you work for?

My name is Defne Us. My title is Imaging Expert at MedPhoton GmbH in Salzburg, Austria.

What is your favorite part about working in industry? (this could be a specific thing about your job or about work-life balance etc.)

The best part of my job is to have the chance to make a direct impact on a product through my work. I also enjoy working with professionals from different fields towards a unified goal on a day-to-day basis. The impact of such work is an exponential growth on my knowledge of the field and the product. 

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

I like getting to work a little before 8 to concentrate better on some work. We have core working hours between 9-5, but other than that the working hours are relatively flexible as long as the tasks at hand are done on time. During the lunch break we gather at the kitchen of the company and eat together. I do my best to leave around 5pm as I’ve learned that staying long is not equal to productive, quality work. 

How is your current industry position different than your academic postdoc or experience as a graduate student? 

In industry, it is not possible to only focus on one task by yourself, especially if you are working with customers. Priorities shift and change quite fast, whereas in academia the end goal was usually determined by the project funding or the content of an experiment. There are also many things I don’t know as a new employee and the answers of some specific questions cannot be found online due to the vast proprietary information on the product. This leads to a lot of interdisciplinary interactions, discussions, and brainstorming, which is also very different from my doctoral experience. 

If you could go back in time, to before you received your job offer, and give yourself one piece of advice or encouragement, what would it be?

Don’t worry, you’ve got this. Wherever the road leads, it will help you grow.

What is the most memorable moment for you (so far) as a Cheeky Scientist Associate?

I was still undecided on which job title to focus on my job search. Then, I started going through the modules. One day, the replies I wrote to the questions about my ideal day-to-day life and priorities showed me that I did not want to be a researcher, there were so many other titles I would enjoy more! Even if that means I have to gain more experience in my field for now, I have a strategic plan on where I want to go in my career.

What do you see as the next step in your career?

I would like to move towards business development, which means leveraging the in-depth experience I am gaining in a start-up scale company to a larger company. I believe the translational skills I am learning on this job will be equally, if not more, valuable than the sum of the tasks I do now.

How can the Association and the Association’s members help you continue to achieve your career goals?

I would like to know what kinds of training I should focus on while working to develop myself further for a certain career path. For example, if I want to change careers, from engineering to business development, what would be the steps necessary in between? I would also like to learn about the challenges Cheekies come across as they navigate through the corporate life.

Now that you’ve spent some time working in industry, what is the biggest piece of advice you’d like to share with those Associates who are still executing their job search?

Finding the right fit for your personality in a company is crucial for your happiness on the job. Informational interviews or having a cup of coffee/drink with an employee in your dream company will give you invaluable clues if you know what you are looking for.  

To learn more about how you can transition into an industry career like Samantha, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Isaiah Hankel

Chief Executive Officer at Cheeky Scientist
Isaiah Hankel holds a PhD in Anatomy and Cell Biology. An expert in the biotechnology industry, he specializes in helping other PhDs transition into cutting-edge industry career tracks.

Isaiah believes--from personal experience--that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life, it’s a clear sign that you need to make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.

Isaiah is an internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant, CEO of Cheeky Scientist, and author of the straight-talk bestsellers Black Hole Focus and The Science of Intelligent Achievement.
Isaiah Hankel


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