UCI Affiliation: PhD Alumna, Pharmacology
**Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow in Pharmacodynamics and Target Engagement at Allergan in Irvine, California
Current Industry: Pharmaceuticals
What do you like most about your current position?
It has given me an insight into how industry research is done.
What skills do you use on a daily basis in your current position? Did GPS-BIOMED activities enhance these skills?
I’m designing experiments, planning them out in a timely manner, managing the data and analyzing it, and then finally presenting it at group meetings as well as department meetings.
One thing I would recommend to grad students and postdocs interested in industry, is to take time and learn about how pharmaceutical companies function A great thing about the Allergan fellowship is that it provides regulatory affairs courses that I can take for free. GPS-BIOMED also offers courses focused on regulatory affairs, clinical trial management and medical lifecycle marketing [to name a few] that you can take through UCI’s Division of Continuing Education at no cost to members.
How did you obtain your position? Which people or experiences helped more than others?
I applied for the fellowship in December 2015 and I took the SciPhD Business of Science course [offered by GPS-BIOMED] that Fall. The course really helped me figure out what to do in terms of applying for a job–i.e. how to appropriately target my resume for a position in biotech, how to dissect a job application, and how to highlight important transferable skills employers are seeking. We did mock interviews, which were helpful as well. I learned the STAR technique that helped me answer behavioral based interview questions employers commonly use.
What went into your ultimate decision to select your current position or career path?
I actually wanted to be in academia for a long time. The Allergan fellowship was the only nonacademic application that I submitted. I learned about it through a GPS-BIOMED Alumna who was working at the company and who recommended it to me. Because it was a 1-year fellowship, it gave me a chance to evaluate industry work culture without really losing too much time if I wanted to return to academia.
Towards the end of my PhD I was also doing some clinical writing for a consulting group, and I really enjoyed it. That experience coupled with my current exposure to the pharmaceutical industry has influenced my next job search. I’m now looking at medical writer positions within biotech and pharma.**
What advice would you give to participants who are new to GPS-BIOMED or who are beginning their career preparation?
You’re going to be pressed for time towards the end of your PhD. And commonly, most grad students don’t begin preparing for their next career steps until they are nearing the end of training. I recommend for grad students to start thinking about their career options and attending professional development events from the start [of their research training].
This is emphasized in GPS-BIOMED and I highly recommend it: informational interviews! Alumni and most professionals love chatting about themselves and their jobs. Reaching out to someone for an informational interview is a great way to expand your network and learn about different types of jobs. My advice is to interview more than one person and make sure to cover individuals in your specific area and beyond. There are many resources online and provided by GPS-BIOMED that help you organize the interview including: how/where to conduct it, what questions to ask, and how to craft a request via email.
My last piece of advice is to practice public speaking. I was one of the co-founders of Brews and Brains that allows graduate students to communicate their science in an accessible way to the general public and community. I would highly recommend for graduate students to get involved in sharing their research in a non-technical way. It will help build your confidence and contribute to a more informed society.
**At the time of this alumni spotlight Nayna was interviewing for a medical writing position at Allergan. We are happy to report that she was offered the position and is now a Senior Medical Writer within the Medical Affairs Department.