Top 10 Survival Strategies for Freshers in Biotech Sector
Biotechnology is one of the booming sectors today, however, we find a lot of qualified students facing difficulty in establishing their careers in this field. In order to curb the situation, we need to understand what the industry desires and what sustains a human resource in their career. For a lot of students pursuing science, the goal usually is to become a doctor or an engineer but very few minds are focussed right from the start towards parascience or technology. Biotechnology is a field that allows human intervention in creating novel technologies and products to aid humankind.
To sustain in any field, one requires to have patience. As soon as you take up a career, you will find a lot of rejections, hard choices to make or below satisfactory response. The trick is to be patient and observant. As soon as the right opportunity creeps in, one must jump at it with full effort. One must remain vigilant at all times and continuously analyze the market trends, so as to reap maximum benefit at the right time. Here are some tips that will help you survive the first few difficult years in the field of Biotechnology.
- Make the right decision
As a fresher in the Biotech sector, the initial struggle remains confined to the decision of pursuing research, education or industrial exposure. Once this phase is crossed one must search for the right opportunity by doing a lot of background research into their field of interest. For example, a lot of freshers lose out on time, energy and interest amidst changing fields and careers. If one is focussed from the start, it is easier to chalk out a career and struggle towards achieving their passion, their dream.
For instance, if one decides to pursue the industrial field, one must chase the multinational companies like L’oreal, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche etc or indigenous companies like Reliance, Tata Research, Biocon etc. This will help build a stable and strong profile. If they wish to stay in the education line, best to start preparing early and complete a Ph.D degree while at it. Look for opportunities in reputed institutes and universities and start preparing for the interviews straight away.
- Constant skill development
The second important task is to continuously upgrade your knowledge and skills. For example, if you wish to remain in research, it is expected that you must learn novel methods that can help hasten your project completion. It is also important to read a lot of scientific work and keep yourself updated with the latest ongoings and current findings. Scientists would prefer associating with those students who can bring novel ideas to the forum and suggest efficient, accurate and faster methods of experiments. Techniques like CRISPR, NGS, DNA Fingerprinting, HPLC are in great demands in various institutes and companies. There are a lot of courses available in our country that can train a student on using these techniques efficiently. When caught in a race with multiple candidates, the one knowing the most relevant skills will definitely be preferred over the others.
A lot of companies also prefer linguistic abilities, since our industry may require a lot of article writing to be done or multinational companies may require to send their employees across the globe. In these scenarios being fluent in multiple languages or having a good hold over certain desired languages will prove to be an asset. You must also train yourself in scientific writing, since publishing your research in renowned journals indicates that both the technique used and the language must be novel and of a high standard.
- Defend your work in an interview
Third, you must be completely confident and aware of whatever task, project or skill you claim to know. Since given an opportunity you must be able to defend your work in an interview or group discussion. This proves your integrity and confidence along with your skill.
Nobody is a better judge of your work other than yourself. If you are able to prove this to the interview panel (in a polite manner), you will surely be worthy of their praise. When a student falters in answering questions pertaining to his/her own claimed work, it raises suspicion on their credibility. Hence, be very thorough about everything you claim to know. However, it is wise to remember that not everyone may know everything and it is not wrong to accept if you are unable to answer any question. The trick is to show your eagerness to learn.
One important point to note in this regard is that you must never misrepresent your qualifications. A lot of companies may select you by your claims in the CV, but in the long run, you may get caught in the background check or interview, and that will be a huge setback for your career. One must be true to their own self and their workplace.
- Follow your passion for selecting the field of interest
Fourth, never undermine any career choice. For example, if you wish to teach but feel that the education field does not supplement well monetarily, you will be at loss. Find a way that helps you stay associated with the field and earn well at the same time. It requires research into the avenue. A lot of government colleges offer entrance examination linked permanent appointments with a regular pay increase that has a respectable amount to offer. Try choosing them.
It is often said that you may be paid better in a job that you are not satisfied in doing and may be paid less in a job of your choice. But the effort that you will have to put in the former will be much higher than the one where you will work out of your will and interest.
- Innovate and be an entrepreneur
Fifth, never be afraid to try establishing an idea of your own. Fresh out of college, your mind might be brimming with ideas and inspirations. Set aside 6 months or a year in planning the same, gather the capital and begin your own venture. It may be as simple as cultivating edible mushrooms in your backyard and selling them for a living !!
Being an entrepreneur is satisfying as you are able to pursue your passion as well as are able to generate employment for other freshers along with you. In case you are unable to do the task alone, try to go in for partnerships among your friend circle. Your friend circles will have definitely have like-minded people and they will help you gather more ideas from various inputs suggested by them. The trick in entrepreneurship is to BEGIN !!
- Build a strong network
Sixth, to survive in the industry, networking is very essential. Employers and Institutes rely on credibility. Your skills and abilities can be proved when there are people to refer you. An experienced individual will have a reference from his past employers, however, for a fresher, the reference begins from his educational institutes itself. It is important for you to at least have 3 referees while preparing your curriculum vitae. Your behavior and skills must make people remember you wherever you go. Hence, always try to do your best in any institute that you associate yourself with. In the future, they will help you in building your career.
A lot of times maintaining contact with your peers may help you get exposed to new opportunities in your fields. You will be able to see the career changes that your colleagues are making and the impact that it is having. This will help you analyze your prospects first hand. In certain cases, you may also collaborate with your friends and complete short courses or projects which can help both of you grow. You can also have publications in collaboration with your contact. The key is to be of help, to get help in return.
- Upgrade your CV to fit the right career
Seventh most important thing is to highlight the right kind of details in your profile. For example, while approaching an educational institute do not focus on your management skills, try to focus more on your knowledgeability, example a paper publication written by you, or classes that you may have conducted during your education, or any teaching ability related degree etc. Even some institutes prefer the educator to be strong in extra-curricular activities as well !! Showcase the certificates that you may have for dance, drama or art. If there is a specific field or institute that you would want to associate with, begin designing your CV accordingly by getting trained in their required skills. Complete certifications as early as possible. Highlight them in a positive manner. However, do remember, a good CV is quite informative in the least amount of words used. Try not to write pages altogether, the content might not even be read !!
- Hands-on skills and Internships
Eighth, it is always good to begin with internships in organizations. In the Biotech sector, a lot of preference is given to people with hands-on skills and abilities. To gather the same, begin internship programs during your college days itself. You may also participate in summer internship programs during your session break. This allows you to build network and skills. Some internships are offered along with a stipend. Remember to collect the certificates to prove your association !!
For example, Biotech Consortium India Limited offers a Biotech Industrial Training Programme (BITP) which has an interview through which the selected candidates are offered a paid training program to train the students with industry based skills. The stipend is Rs 10,000/- offered for 6 months. Once the students qualify through this period, they become ready to acquire permanent positions in the company if selected.
- Increase awareness
Usually, freshers have very little guidance, to begin with. As and when they begin their struggle period, they get acquainted with various companies, profiles, institutes, programs etc. One usually skims through the most sought-after jobs/companies, but very few broaden their horizons. The more names you learn, the more avenues you have open for yourself. Example there are over 900 pharma companies in India, however, we can name hardly 20. That is how people miss out on opportunities. A company grows with the right kind of talent that can be fulfilled by a lot of individuals who get disheartened by their first few rejections. The trick is to remain aware and keep eyes open and fixed onto each and every website/avenues possible. This will allow you to keep track of multiple interviews happening across the country.
- Choose the correct City
If you would have been in the finance industry, cities like Mumbai, Gurgaon etc would have been perfect to settle in. One must choose their career location in the region where it has the highest demand and is able to generate maximum employment. For example, R&Ds dominate the South and Western India, pharmaceuticals dominate the Eastern India etc. Choose cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and you will find it easy to grow your career as there are a wide range of opportunities in the Biotech field offered by the cities. You must select the work profile that you wish to serve in and then keep a track of the companies that offer such positions. For example, if you wish to be working on small molecule development, try to approach companies like Biocon, Dr. Reddy’s Lab, Wockhardt, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Limited. In case you are willing, you may also look for opportunities abroad. United States, Germany, Australia offer a lot of research opportunities in the fields of Pharmaceutical, Bio-IT etc. Biotechnology is of great demand in any country and state, since every human depends on it for their development.
Career choice is an individual’s own decision. In every path that we choose, there will be rises and rejections. The key is to remain patient and vigilant. As a fresher, do not restrict yourself to opportunities. Try approaching as many companies and institutes as possible, sit for as many interviews as you can. They will help groom you and make you a stronger candidate for your future attempts. There are a lot of opportunities in Biotech, the only trouble is we do not know where and how to look for them !!
About the Author:
Rashmi Sanyal is one of the most experienced team members of Biotecnika and a dynamic teacher, favorite of all students. Coming from a research background in cancer, she specializes in Cancer Genetics, Immunology & Developmental Biology. Being in the biotech field for a decade she has a vast knowledge about the field may be it be the biotech job industry or the Biotech & Pharma research industry. She has a keen interest in understanding the latest developments in Biotech & Pharma Industry and is very passionate about educating the same to her students.
Read More :
- Why Biotech Freshers, Life Science Freshers Don’t get a Job Easily?
- How to Prepare for a Biotech Job Interview Successfully
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