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Other Got starting job, need focus for next step

  1. Dec 18, 2016 #1
    Hello everyone! I graduated in June with a M.S in Biomedical Engineering and obtained a starting job that I started three weeks ago as a quality control analyst related to the testing of pharmaceuticals in a company called ICON Plc. While it sounded good at the time of applying for the job there have been many problems arising from the nature of the job and the atmosphere of the company. This may just be because it is the first professional full time I have obtained but I still not sure...

    The original plan for getting this job was that it would give me a foot in the door in a career of biomedical research where I would stay in the position for 1 to 1.5 years and then advance myself to more advanced research functions then quality control of research data. I don't have much money of my own so this position would help me establish financial independence while staying at home and then moving on to new places once I have enough money. The first problem I'm facing is the Quality Control Analyst position is just looking through data sheets for errors and doesn't actually utilize any real mental capacity for problem solving. The second problem is that the company has taken the attitude that they don't want me to advance my career in biomedical research and want me to stay in this position. My graduate studies were done at Drexel University in Philadelphia so my goals are directed more towards moving back to Philadelphia or one of the other cities nearby me. They have also not met my expectations for salary and it is not "competitive" so I should be longing for another position sooner then later... At the present I give it until June 2017 that I start contacting my alumni network and applying for jobs.

    My education is that I have an A.S in Engineering Science, a B.S in Physics, and a M.S in Biomedical engineering. I have a large knowledge base in neuroscience, medical imaging, and signal processing; the problem here is probably that my skills are currently lacking. A lot of courses I have taken just gave experience in relation to Matlab coding towards specific problems in course, while some courses gave me experience in ImageJ and EEG most of the courses I have taken focused on a group project or presentation on previous research or doing a mock proposal for an engineering design or potential research study. Am I at a disadvantage compared to other people I'm competing with in the job market or do employers perceive me as being overqualified for simple research positions where I could get research experience?

    I have gotten interviews from other places and the understanding I got from my failed interviews is that I need to get more exposure to statistical software and neuroimaging software. The suggestions I have been given so far is to use Coursera and other online learning resources to gain this exposure and then apply for jobs after I have developed more skills. I'm skeptical if that is even realistic and this is putting doubt as to the future of my career and I'm currently stressing out about being stuck in my current position so I need to make sure I have a strong plan. I'm interested in targeting Philadelphia in places like the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania College of Medicine for entry level research positions that are acceptable at the Masters level. My preference is to be involved in research focused on neuroscience but at the present I'm not sure if it would be a good idea to be that focused once I start my job search.

    Another question I have to answer is what would the next research position lead to if I were to obtain it. The possibilities I see are either it eventually leads me to getting a job in biomedical engineering, pursuing a PhD, or advancing in that particular research function. The basis of that decision sounds like it would probably be circumstantial but I need to develop a resolve that is directing me and I don't think I can just focus on potentialities based on hypothetical future scenarios.

    I'm currently trying to figure out this whole problems so please ask me questions if I wasn't clear in some matter. This situation is producing a lot of anxiety so I'm making sure I'm expressing it in order to have the ability to look beyond my current starting job and not just going over this endlessly in my head and driving myself insane.... I would be very thankful to anyone who can help me focus a direction for my career so my current job doesn't bring me down.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2016 #2


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    Two comments:

    (1) I would refrain from posting comments about your current employer where you give the employer's name, like you did above. The people in your current company can use Google.

    (2) I would focus on doing the best job you can in your current position. Did someone tell you that your only job is "looking through datasheets", or are there other things you could be doing to improve the quality of the pharmaceuticals that your company ships? The way to get noticed and receive assignments of increasing responsibility is to go above and beyond what is expected of you. Once you have proven your worth to the company, they may be more open about helping you advance your career.
  4. Dec 18, 2016 #3
    Well, based on the way they are presenting themselves professionally I'm not sure if it matters if I mention them by name. I had the interview with them and the person interviewing me said they don't want to see me staying there because of my degree and qualifications and then gave me a reference to someone on the other side of the United States. I'm also in the position where it would be impractical for me to stay in the area since its a depressed area with reduced salaries for jobs and I have huge debts to pay.

    I'm confident my productivity can increase at the company as long as I have some direction that is motivating me forward. Unfortunately being in the current job environment is just reinforcing the importance of helping in actual medical settings such as hospitals. In that regard they are either not going to help me or are going to take to long before they decide to help me. One problem that is going to come up here is that this job appears to be based on analytical chemistry whereas my specialization is in neuroengineering and bio-electronic applications. I tried doing chemistry many times but wasn't able to pass organic chemistry and wasn't really good at general chemistry either. There are to many factors that won't make it possible to advance within the company and the only reason I'm in this position is because of passivity and not being proactive in my job search. Therefore the only way I see myself as moving forward is in being aggressive towards developing skills that allow myself to advance and make me more competitive which requires adding practical skills to my resume. These would be skills my current job can't provide, the only positive I see of the job I have right now is that it allows me to solve this problem and become more competitive for the next year.
  5. Dec 19, 2016 #4

    Fervent Freyja

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    Well, if they saw that you were presenting them and the position in bad light, then it would probably matter. I couldn't care less (usually) about what someone does for a living, it's their attitude that counts- have you ever been loyal to an employer, no matter how lowly the position? Your attitude is causing the anxiety.

    And no, you aren't overqualified for research. But, you aren't as disadvantaged as you believe- the majority of humans aren't so lucky to have a shot at a job that pays for a comfortable life.
  6. Dec 19, 2016 #5
    It would only matter if I care what they would do if they saw these posts and have an opinion based on the said bad presentation. Since this is just a job to give me financial independence and possibly a Driver's License before moving on from my parents home and overcoming isolation I can't really see how loyalty applies here. I have anxiety at the moment because people told me I could apply for the job on the pretext of pretending I wanted to be there forever to get the job and just currently need to confirm the logistics that the plan I have for the next year can allow me to overcome this situation. Since other people tend to make a lot of assumptions I don't really trust that being proactive and then contacting people the next year will produce results.

    The atmosphere at the job is not healthy, I'm basically just being totally silent about my actual goals and having my coworkers make a lot of assumptions about me because I'm originally from the area. I'm getting hints that the situation is very fragile and if I were to show my true interests even outside my career they would not be comfortable since I'm interested in multiculturalism, social justice issues, and the nature of consciousness whereas they are family oriented and are not interested in bigger issues. That is a question to ponder, I can bring up these topics to make them aware of my personality so we aren't pretending I have a normal attitude of my hometown and that I have actually developed my own mindset independently based on different values then the hometown.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
  7. Dec 19, 2016 #6
    I recommend to never make a current or former employer look bad in any context.

    The only exceptions would be extreme examples of criminal activity where your conscience (and possibly the law) require you to become a whistle blower.

    No one is going to be eager to hire an employee with a track record of making employers look bad.

    Do your job well, keep your head down, be active in looking for your next job. Even in the relative privacy of interviews do not speak ill of a current or former employer. It will hurt your chances of getting hired, because what the interviewer hears is, "I am willing to speak ill of you one day if you hire me."
  8. Dec 19, 2016 #7


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    Well, if you don't care if they fire you, why not quit today and find a better job?
  9. Dec 19, 2016 #8
    I tend to recommend finding a new job while still employed. Not only does this ease the financial pressures, if a new job is not secured quickly it prevents an "employment gap" on the resume which is a negative to some potential employers.

    One should consider carefully how one plans to answer the question, "Why did you leave your last position?" One needs to answer without saying anything negative about a past employer. That is much easier if you left for a more appealing position: you left for the greater appeal of the new position. If one quits a job, it is hard to answer why you left without saying anything negative.
  10. Dec 19, 2016 #9


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    To add to the good advice that's been given already, it's not like you're the first person who's taken a job to pay the bills. If that job isn't what you expected and they're not offering you the kinds of opportunities that you want to advance your career, it doesn't have to be about your employer "taking an attitude that they don't want you to advance your career in biomedical research." An employer doesn't have any obligation to advance your career for you. If you're not getting what you want in the long term you continue to do the best job you can for them and you move on as other opportunities arise.
  11. Dec 19, 2016 #10
    Point taken, I do need to make sure I mentally differentiate between my feelings of the employer and the area I'm living in at the time being. This job may have been perfectly tolerable and enjoyable for over a year if I weren't totally isolated but since that is the case this makes me very eager to transition to another place like Philadelphia. I find this move especially important since my hometown has subtle ways of holding you down if you stay too long.

    Like Dr. Courtney said, I'm using the job as a stepping stone so it is easier to obtain another job, this is the only company in my local area that is doing anything close to what I have experience in from my M.S degree. I also have no money so at the present moment it would be impossible to move to another location and this requires me to save up on my finances before I can move to new places and have new adventures for growth.

    Well the only bills my job is paying is a lowered student loan repayment plan at the present and only is going to give me enough to not always be isolated the next year and be able to use some money to visit places for informational and job interviews on my vacation time. This is my first job and I'm being introduced to taxes so this is forcing me to live at my parents house until I can find a better job opportunity. The positives I see from the job is that it gets me used to the full time job routine, gives me experience with coworker interactions, and is a foot in the door as a preparation for taking the next step starting the second half of the next year. My current job isn't going to give me valuable skills I can incorporate into biomedical research, the quality control function is basically one of the bottom positions in research where a research department doesn't trust you enough yet to perform actual research functions that require creative problem solving and advanced scientific skills. I have had experiences with this before being an undergrad in a Professor's laboratory, it is a function I'm not really interested in being stuck in for over a year.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
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