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Any biotech workers here? How did you get experience before your 1st job?

  1. Jun 6, 2012 #1
    Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    So I'm graduating in 3 more weeks with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I've been looking online for lab tech jobs (private and academic) and there seems to be a lot of jobs available; unfortunately I can't apply for some of them because some jobs in some other states require additional certification on top of the BSc; BSL (Biosafety Level), Hazmat, Animal Handling, CMT and CLT (Certified Medical/Lab Technician) licenses and such. My state and the other states neighboring me don't require those.

    The thing is, the vast, vast majority of them require experience. I've only had an opportunity to work retail while in college. I've written up a resume and just listed every lab in every Bio and Chem class I've ever done under a "Skills and Experience" section (DNA/RNA Isolation, RT-PCR, Northern/Western/Southern Blot, ELISA, HPLC, Proton/C-13 NMR, single and tandem Mass Spec, etc) but will they count ordinary school labs as experience? Some explicitly say "industry experience" required.

    As long as it's not animal husbandry or vivarium tech, I'll be happy. So, will employers count school labs as experience? If not, how does a new graduate get to do scientific work in biotech?
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2012 #2
    Re: Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    Doesn't have to be just biotech workers; anyone here do chemistry? Materials science? Electrical engineering?

    Just looking for some perspective from anyone who does wet lab or cleanroom work.
  4. Jun 6, 2012 #3
    Re: Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    I lucked out and landed an internship. Hold out for as long as you can for a permanent position. Try to avoid getting sucked into temp jobs if you can because once you do it is extremely hard to get out. Many postings you will see will be for temp jobs. You can list your experience in lab work from your courses. One field that you may want to try your hand at is bioanalytical. If you can get your foot in the door and gain some experience, good BA people seem to always have better prospects than most other biotech workers.
  5. Jun 6, 2012 #4
    Re: Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    Are you talking about those 6-12 month contract jobs? How/why would they be extremely hard to get out of if they're only temporary?

    Ideally, I'd like to do something in industrial microbiology and biochemistry (biofuels, bioplastics, etc) but honestly, I'll be happy with any wet lab or cleanroom work. Wouldn't temps look good for future grad school admissions or permanent hirings?
  6. Jun 6, 2012 #5
    Re: Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    This might be a little late, as you're graduating very soon, but you really should reach out to connections from school (professors, alumni, guest speakers, etc.). I'm currently doing a paid internship in research at a biotech company that I was able to apply for by talking to a guest speaker from the company and getting backed up by one of my professors. I also had undergraduate research while in school.

    I'm not sure about the whole "contract position spiral" myself, but where you are a recent graduate, an internship for this summer/fall should only help. I would start looking for either an internship or a job by trying to contact alumni in biotech. Ask them about their job and their company and if they know anything about opportunities for recent grads. (Just make sure it's less direct than "I can haz job plz." =) ) Also, if your goal is to just make sure you're around science, I see lots of postings for quality assurance and production positions that typically require only a BS.
  7. Jun 7, 2012 #6
    Re: Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    What's wrong with temporary contract work?
  8. Jun 8, 2012 #7
    Re: Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    Because temp work many times doesn't give you sick pay, holliday pay, little or no health care benefits, or even retirement benefits. Want a vacation once a year? Sure, it'll cost you double since you won't get paid for your time off. Many jobs in biotech that are listed are for temp work. Companies are moving toward this type of work in order to save money at the detriment to their workers. It's basically hanging a carrot in front of workers since many people take contract positions in the hopes that they will one day turn into permanent work. Many times they don't, and once people become fed up with the whole permatemp work gig they move on and companies can simply hire the next batch of gullible suckers that will take up the permatemp gig for the hopes of trying to land a permanent position out of it. Moving from temp job to temp job is a horrible way to live. If you plan on owning a home one day, forget it. If you can't find permanent work, you'll have to be able to constantly move from temp gig to temp gig like a nomad. Owning a home makes it extremely difficult to simply be able to pick up and leave if you have to in order to find a new job. Many people come right out college and work temp gigs to start because they are simply happy to have a job. 5 years later reality starts to settle in and you realize you haven't held a real permanent job for more than 2 years and have had to relocate 3 times by then already in order to move from temp job to temp job. Try as hard as possible to not get sucked in from the beginning into this vicious cycle and hold out as long as you possibly can for a permanent position. Many times your first job too will set the bar when it comes to looking for future positions in terms of pay and level. Once you lose income, take a pay cut, or agree to work for lower wages, getting back the wages you should be really working for are extremely difficult to re-obtain. For example, at my first job out of college I was making $56k after bonuses and 3 years experience. I was subsequently laid off and had to take a job making $40k. After one year working at the new place I received a raise of about $1000. But as you can see, it would have taken me forever at that rate to get back the salary I was originally making pretty much right out of college. Even if I decided to stay at that company and eventually gotten promoted to a higher level, it still would have taken years and by then I would have probably had 10-15 years experience and still only have been making the same or only slightly above what I was making right out of college.
  9. Jun 8, 2012 #8
    Re: Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    I'll consider the time between temps as "vacation." And I actually do NOT want to own a home one day; just rent (fewer taxes, more mobility)

    I remember reading a few articles in The Economist and The Atlantic that showed that home ownership is actually a big contributor to un/underemployment; people who own homes in low job-growth areas can't afford to sell their homes (because they won't get back the money they paid for it) or they can't afford to take the time off from work to move, so they're stuck there.

    I actually know people like this; people who own homes out in the boons/burbs and either have to take low-paying local jobs or well-paying jobs but that are so far away (40+ miles), they're bleeding money just paying for gas to get there everyday.

    It would be nice to land a permanent job at the first biotech that hires me for temp, but I know it's not realistic. Wouldn't it give me the real industry experience and resume-material to land permanent work or grad school admission in the future though?
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2012
  10. Jun 12, 2012 #9
    Re: Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    Also, does academic research count as "research experience?" The majority of research I did as an undergraduate was academic in nature; reading tons of research papers to summarize trends in biotechnology (the use of bacterial cytochromes in drug design, possible nanotechnology applications for herpes virus e.g.)

    Or does experience strictly mean hands-on lab research?
  11. Jun 13, 2012 #10
    Re: Any biotech workers here? How did you get "experience" before your 1st job?

    I'm going on gut feeling, so hopefully someone else will get back to you too, but I would think that any actual job would be looking for hands-on work related to the position. Your work with the literature might be helpful for landing an internship though.
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