An interview with Mitali Patil, PhD
What is your name, your full job title, and the full name of the company you work for?
My name is Mitali Patil. I work as an Associate Medical Writer at Evolution Medical Communications.
What is your favorite part about working in industry? (this could be a specific thing about your job or about work-life balance etc.)
One of my favorite aspects of working in industry is that there is more rigidity in the schedule, and that when you work extra hours in industry, not only are your efforts appreciated, but you are compensated for your extra work (either via salary, early departures, or extra days off). There are always going to be times when even an industry job can get overwhelming, but working in industry is definitely more balanced than working in academia. I know it seems strange that I’d be so happy about a rigid schedule, but my life in academia was insane in that I’d work 12-18-hour days, sometimes one after the other, with absolutely no appreciation whatsoever.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
A typical work day for me starts with me checking my calendar for internal meetings or meetings with clients, and then browsing through the hot sheet to determine whether I have deadlines for the day. As medical writers, we typically develop a lot of slide decks for our clients, and there are various components that go into that slide deck. So, there will be days where I will be working on browsing for sources, writing speaker notes, developing content for slides, or even editing and annotating to make sure that all the information I’ve presented is grammatically and factually correct. In my company, we have a lot of internal meetings to ensure that we’re all communicating efficiently and are on the same page, and we touch base with our clients frequently to ensure that our performance aligns with their requirements and requests
How is your current industry position different than your academic postdoc or experience as a graduate student?
My PhD experience was quite unfortunate, so my experience may not be the best example. I had amazing colleagues – I wouldn’t have traded my lab mates for the world – but my adviser was a nightmare. He was quite belligerent, and thought himself to be above the rules of the department. In addition, he expected us to devote all of our time and effort to the laboratory, as if we were robots, instead of realizing that we were human beings that needed an escape at times. He also had no regard for our time, our personal schedules, or our goals, and would deliberately use our graduate school deadlines as leverage against us. In my current position, not only would no one dream of doing that to me (we’re a pretty small company), but I feel like I have a lot of avenues or people I can speak to if I do feel overwhelmed. In industry, especially in smaller companies, it’s much easier to connect and conduct a conversation without belligerence or veiled threats, and there’s just an openness in all the communications. I have been incredibly lucky to find such an amazing, friendly, and understanding group of people at my company!
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?
A piece of advice or encouragement I would give myself if I could go back in time would be that I am qualified and worthy. When searching for jobs, I think it’s so easy to become disheartened, to take rejection personally and feel like it is a sign that you’re just not good enough, and that’s not true! There are always going to be trials and tribulations in life, and the most you can do is keep pushing forward with all your might. So, for everyone still searching for their dream job, please just remember that you are amazing, qualified, and worthy of whatever you’re seeking, and that someday soon, all the stars will align and you’ll secure the job you desire.
What is the most memorable moment for you (so far) as a Cheeky Scientist Associate?
I think one of my most memorable moments as a Cheeky was what brought me to the association in the first place – the resume workshop. Sitting through that workshop was such an “A-ha” moment for me because it really outlined what the flaws in my resume and my strategies were at the time, and gave me an opportunity to fix those flaws and present a more polished and attractive resume.
Once I joined the association, what really struck me was how incredibly supportive the group is. You can post a comment, and within minutes (at the most, an hour), you’ll be flooded with guidance, advice, or even fellow Cheekies who are in the same boat as you. I think having that kind of network not only gives you an opportunity to obtain advice and guidance, but also reminds you that you aren’t alone in your struggles, which is important to remember because it’s easy to feel isolated every time you face a roadblock in your job search or career.
What do you see as the next step in your career?
I really love my current position, and I have so much room to grow and progress on the promotional ladder, so it would be great to achieve the next step in my progression as a medical writer, and maybe even work my way towards becoming a medical director. However, I also have a lot of varied interests, and I still keep putting applications together for positions that catch my eye. You never know what might drop into your lap next!
How can the Association and the Association’s members help you continue to achieve your career goals?
I think the Association has been incredible at assessing what interests the members the most. When I first joined the Association, I only had knowledge of the main association. However, over time, I’ve seen the group offer more and more interesting programs, such as the Scientist MBA, the Medical Science Liaison program, and just recently, a Medical Writer’s program. And there are many other programs that cater to other interests. I think it’s amazing that the Association really examines what will interest its members and caters to their needs, and I hope they continue to offer interesting and attractive programs. As for the associates, just keep on being supportive of one another, guiding each other, and connecting with each other, because that will definitely help you and everyone else in the long run!
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?
For the associates that are still searching for their dream job, definitely apply “The Rules of the Cheeky” – follow the templates, guidance documents, and videos that the association has provided to you, because that’s the first step in presenting yourself and building up your network and connections.
However, once you’ve put up an impressive front on paper, don’t hesitate to express yourself in your interviews. Your education and your skills are one part of you, but your personality also has to shine. Don’t hesitate to be yourself and remember that even your interests and hobbies outside of the profession may come in handy. For instance, I’m very fond of creative pursuits, and surprisingly, that ends up showing in how I design slides and create my own graphics (it’s a running joke in my company that one of the graphic designers is afraid that I’ll steal his job). Sometimes, personal aspects of you can really help endear you towards potential employers, more so than just what’s on paper, so don’t be shy to present all your talents, not just your technical skills and educational expertise.
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 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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