UCI Affiliation: PhD Alumnus, Developmental & Cell Biology
Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow at Ambry Genetics in Aliso Viejo, California
Current Industry: Biotechnology
What do you like most about your current position?
I like that I still get to perform basic research, but with a more direct application to human health. I still have the freedom of developing my own research project, but without the worry of applying for fellowships. It is a little bit of the best of both worlds in terms of academic freedom but with a more stable funding situation.
What skills do you use on a daily basis in your current position? Did GPS-BIOMED activities enhance these skills?
There is a ton of overlap [between the skills I used in my PhD and the skills I use in my current position]. The technical, experimental details are very similar and they build upon my experience as a graduate student. So, it was a very smooth transition for me. At the same time, it was also a nice mix in that I moved to a different research topic. There was a little bit of a learning curve, but I was excited to make the change and it did not take me very long for me to do so.
I learned everything I know [in terms of soft skills in industry] from the SciPhD workshop. Being able to communicate, being able to interview well, being able to write an effective resume and also a cover letter are really important. These skills are pretty much essential in order to get a job in industry.
How did you obtain your position? Which people or experiences helped more than others?
I knew about Ambry Genetics because I had friends who were already working happily at Ambry. I saw that the company website posted a new postdoc fellowship program which made me really excited to put my application in. A couple weeks after I applied, I contacted a former colleague who was already working at the company and I asked her to put in a good word for me with the hiring manager. Shortly after I emailed her, I was contacted for a phone interview which was really fantastic. So it really was a firsthand experience for me showing how important networking is.
What went into your ultimate decision to select your current position or career path?
I would say that I [knew that I wanted to transition to industry] a year or two before I finished [my PhD]. I thought a postdoc in industry would be a great stepping stone in order to do so. The career panels and especially the SciPhD Business of Science program were very helpful to help me make the decision.
What advice would you give to participants who are new to GPS-BIOMED or who are beginning their career preparation?
I would tell the current graduate students that as busy as they are with their research, it’s really up to them in order to make the time to prepare for a career transition to industry or other careers outside of academic research. I was writing my thesis at the same time I was taking the SciPhD workshop over the weekend. I would wake up, the workshop would start at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning and it wouldn’t get out until 6:00pm. I would go straight from the workshop right back to the lab and just continue thesis writing. No matter how busy you are, if you put your mind to it, you can get yourself a job.