Hello there bloggies!
Somehow I have been working as a genetics research in industry for 6 months. When I started, it was snowing and freezing. Now, I am sitting in my apartment (that I need to start packing up for my move!) in shorts and slightly sunburned.
The first half of the year has truly flown by, and oh so much has changed. I wanted to take a quick moment to reflect on some things I’ve learned about research and working in industry.
Firstly (and this goes for anyone in research), you CANNOT blindly trust the literature. Read what has been done, evaluate the result, and interpret what it does and does not mean. And for goodness sake, replicate those findings folks. Peer review and journals do not catch everything. The scientific community must ensure that bullshit (sorry for the language hehe) pervades and persists in the literature.
Secondly (and again this applies to all researchers), identifying the right scientific question to ask and how to ask it is really really hard. What makes it hard is finding the questions and methods that efficiently and accurately address what your end goal is (whether that be finding a drug target, identifying a complex, etc). Ten dollars that your eureka movement happens outside the lab while you are cooking, on a run, or doing something totally unrelated. I keep a notebook next to my bed because I’ve been known to wake up at 2:37AM with a great idea.
Now, let’s take a turn to more industry specific notes.
Everything you do is team-based. The days of sitting alone in your corner of the lab and working on your project in isolation largely do not exist in industry. Your work is intimately integrated into your team and overall project. If looking to make the jump into industry, be prepared for group work all the time. Personally, I love it. I need that bit of interaction to keep my interest going.
Building off of that, the work in industry requires you to be aware of and to integrate lots of different types of information. You are no longer silo-ed into your field. Chemists, pharmacologists, biologists, clinicians and many many other experts come together to tackle a massively complex problem. So the biologist needs to keep the chemist in mind while running their experiments, and the clinicians need to know the capabilities of the other scientists.
That diverse workforce means that you have to be able to communicate your work to really smart non-experts in your field who are also scientists. Digest your experiments and results. What have you found, what can you conclude, and what do they mean overall. Minutiae will do no one good in these settings.
Looking more globally, there is one massive truth in industry. Change is a constant. People move on to other jobs. Groups reorganize. Priorities of departmetns adjust. Learn to adapt and not to be totally freaked out by change. This takes time to develop, but adapting your skills and learning to resilient are vital to surviving and furthering your career.
And guess what…it is YOUR career. You are your best advocate. No one else. Work hard and search out opportunities. Make things happen and things can happen!
Jumping into industry has been daunting, but I have learned so much professionally and scientifically in my 6 short months. What do you want to know about working in industry? Any burning questions? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @DrFsThoughts.
See you next time!