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Academia to Industry, One Step at a Time

Over at the Science Careers forum, MJ — who identifies as a final-year PhD student in molecular biology — solicits advice on how best to break into the biomanufacturing, bioprocessing, and quality assurance fields within industry. "In my PhD program I have been exposed almost exclusively to the academia/research career path," MJ says. "From this I know that if I wanted to go on to a career in academic or industry research, my next step should probably be to take a postdoctoral position and build my research portfolio."

But is that the right thing to do? "How does a newly-minted PhD get industry experience and get into careers in these areas? Do they take lower-level jobs and work their way up? ... How beneficial would a postdoc be?" MJ asks.

User PC suggests that MJ meet with a recruiter who can track down a temp job "to get a foot in the door."

Jim Gardner, who works in pharma, adds that "it seems that the most common way to enter an 'alternative' position is to first enter a 'traditional' (lab) one and then make a lateral move within the company after at least a year or two. So yes, a postdoc would help you go this route." Garnder says that a postdoc in industry could be especially beneficial, cutting a step from MJ's academia-industry transition process.

Overall, user PG suggests that MJ take things one step at a time. "For example, going from academia to industry, going from molecular biology to chemistry, or going from bench to marketing," PG says. "Trying to do all at once will make things difficult."

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