Student Career Workshop: “Best Session I’ve Ever Attended!”

By | February 3, 2017

Comments ranged from “spectacular” to “best session I’ve ever attended” as the Chapter’s Annual Student Career Workshop wrapped up on Saturday, January 28 at Northeastern’s Raytheon Amphitheater. The full-day event was extremely well attended, making this – our fifth Career Workshop – the biggest to date.  Attendees gained valuable guidance, advice, and tips from 15 industry professionals on how to land an internship, co-op or job in the life sciences industry and make a smooth transition from academia to the working world.

To send the message that this would be an interactive workshop, Student Development Committee Co-Chair Brian Hagopian did a quick “welcome,” then immediately took students out of their “comfort zone” by having each participant introduce themselves to the group. He then reviewed the agenda for the day, which was broken into five areas.

“Understanding the Big Picture” focused on making sure attendees went into the job hunting process with a positive frame of mind and touched on topics ranging from attitude to happiness to success. During “The Life Science Job Landscape,” Andre Walker and Jan Vanselow gave students an overview of the life sciences job landscape, first by helping students understand the differences between “small molecule” pharma and “large molecule” biotech and describing emerging technology sectors within the industry such as gene therapy.  The discussion then shifted to the functional requirements that companies require, how these job functions are described and where each student’s background might fit.

During “What About Me?” Lauren Celano, CEO of Propel Careers, spoke about the uniqueness of each student and described how to translate skills that have been acquired through academic coursework and labs into skills that employers are looking for.  She also covered the importance of communicating soft skills experience through a resume.

Next up during “What About Me?” were Chapter Past Presidents Dave Novak and Chris Opolski. Dave provided advice about the elements of a successful interview and how to make the right first impression. He concluded with an interactive session on elevator speeches during which students practiced their speeches on perfect strangers. Chris reminded the students that everyone has a digital footprint and explained how to control the information prospective employers can discover by the smart use of privacy settings, etc., something all too easy to overlook in this age of sharing via social media.

“What About Me?” extended through the lunch break, during which a group of ISPE industry experts reviewed student resumes, then reinforced the lessons of the review session with a discussion about resume do’s and don’t’s and the how-to’s of effective emails and cover letters. Examples of good and bad (and why) gave students concrete examples of how to create the image they want to project when using these important tools.

“Learn From Those Who Have Gone  Before You” featured career stories from Jared Marshall (Brammer Bio), Jacob Bourgeois (Sanofi), and Norline Crossdale-Walker (Sanofi) who described in personal terms what lies ahead for students making the transition from academia to industry.

Shifting to longer term thinking in “Setting Goals and Building a Career Path,” Laura Poisson, President of ClearRock, gave a great talk about how to build your network and effectively orchestrate  your career path.  The session concluded with a discussion on the importance of goal setting and resources available to students through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and MassBioEd.

The day-long session ended on a practical note, with students lining up for free “head shots” so they would each have a professional photo to use for their LinkedIn and other professional profiles. Even more important, participants took home a great deal of useful knowledge they could immediately apply to help them more effectively approach the job search.

And if you missed this year’s session, the next one is only 12 months away. See you January 27, 2018!