An interview with Ju Lin Tan, Ph.D.
1. What is your name, your full job title, and the name of the company you work for?
Ju Lin Tan, Next Generation Sequencing Scientist, GeneSEQ Sdn Bhd.
2. What is your favorite part about working in industry?
The opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn things outside my expertise, e.g marketing and business development. I enjoy the fact that we are given the opportunity to learn as we go.
3. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I am in charge of overseeing the lab operations and processing samples for analysis. This includes DNA extraction, PCR, and the downstream sequencing steps. Other than being in charge of overseeing the lab operations, I am also involved in marketing and business development. This includes writing articles, content creation for our webpage, meeting clients, and giving presentations to organisation. As GeneSEQ is a sister company that was established only in January this year, the samples that we receive are not large in number. So I also assist in sample analysis for the parent company.
4. How is your current industry position different than your academic postdoc or experience as a graduate student?
It’s definitely different in terms of the work environment and scope of work! At my current position, other than doing lab work, I am given the opportunity to do what I enjoy: writing articles to increase awareness, meeting clients and learning what they want, and content creation/managing social media platforms. All these were not possible during my graduate studies, as I was too busy getting stressed out over some nonspecific protein bands on my Western Blot.
5. If you could go back in time to before you received your job offer and give yourself one piece of advice/encouragement, what would it be?
“Do not be afraid of embracing change.” After completing my PhD, I was so sure that I was going to continue on in academia (i.e., becoming a postdoc). I had tunnel vision, thinking that a postdoc was my only choice. I was afraid of moving beyond this, thinking that I might “lose” my skills if I didn’t stay in research. But when I joined CSA, I realised that I had so much more to offer besides technical skills/knowledge.
6. What was the most important thing you did during your job search that enabled your success?
Being active on LinkedIn, and really, to just put yourself out there and to seek advice from others – showcase your skills and keep engaging people. And to jump on an opportunity when it arises. My current work encompasses the use of next-generation sequencing (NGS: a DNA sequencing technology), a technique with which I have no graduate-study experience. However, I managed to leverage the molecular biology skills that I do have, which are relevant to this technique.
7. What is the most memorable moment for you (so far) as a Cheeky Scientist Associate?
Transitioning into industry using the materials provided by the association and being part of a supportive group. This is something memorable for me because I was in a situation where I did not have a clear view of my future. But I managed to pull myself out of this black hole when I joined CSA. All the members have been really supportive and this environment is charged with a positive vibe.
8. What do you see as the next step in your career?
I believe that we go through a continuous learning process when it comes to our careers. The next step in my career would be using this opportunity to build my competency in NGS, and to develop my marketing skills.
9. How can the association–and the association’s members–help you continue to achieve your career goals?
Through continuous discussion and the sharing of experience. Meetups are also great, as we would be able to connect better in person.
10. 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?
It is important to learn from each failure and to take advice from others. It might sound difficult, but keep pushing until you make it. You are not alone in this journey – with some guidance and willingness to embrace change, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t limit yourself. For some Cheekies, it will help to keep a very open mind, even if they are working in very specific fields.
To learn more about how you can transition into an industry career like Ju Lin Tan, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the waitlist for the Cheeky Scientist Association.
Isaiah believes that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life right now, you should 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.
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