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Career Clinic #1: Advice for Eclectically Trained Scientists

Vijay, a Bitesize Bio reader with an eclectic array of degrees and diplomas contacted us for advice on his career options:

I have 3 diplomas in Fashion Designing, an undergraduate degree in Medicine and a Masters in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing. I need some career advice.

This situation will be familiar to many of our readers. How many of us truly knew what we wanted to do when we were 17 or 18 and heading to college? We may have had an idea but we didn’t really understand what those careers might entail.

Fast forward 8 years and you are well-educated and you have a ton of debt and are still trying to answer the question that plagued you at 18: “where do I go from here?”

What do you want to do?

The first thing you need to do is to choose what you want to go. Which of those career directions do you want to take?

Only you can answer that and it may take some research and soul-searching to do so.

Browsing through current job listings of the sort you think you might be interested in and talking to people who are in those jobs will help focus your mind.

Once you have decided on your chosen path, then this becomes an exercise in
positioning yourself. And that means working hard on your resume.

Critical note: what you put on your resume is as important as what you leave off.

Your resume is a place for you to showcase why you might be a fit for a specific position not just a general mish-mash of your background and everything you have ever done.

If you decide to pursue a position in fashion, I would suggest removing all references to your scientific experience, apart from the MBA is a great cross-over degree that applies to just about any position.

If you were focused on pursuing a position in science (since you are reading Bitesize Bio, my guess is that this is the case), remove all references to design.

Focus your entire background on scientific studies, courses, projects, experiences, etc. Keep the MBA of course this is always a great degree for biotech professionals.They tend to put a lot of reverence in the MBA (something I personally never understood. As an MBA, I was always far more impressed with the MS and PhD folks. I guess the grass isn’t greener!).

Think about your resume the way you think about presenting a poster, do you put everything you ever did on the poster? Of course not (if you do, check out our 10 tips for designing research posters immediately for some guidance!)

You put the relevant data to communicate your findings same goes for the resume.

If you can’t decide what you want to do…

…and I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be the case, your focus should be on getting a job, hopefully in an area that interests you.

In this effort you will be applying for a lot of different types of jobs e.g. in bench science, management or fashion. And for each of these, your resume should be tailored towards the requirements of the job.

So you should have a whole series of resumes.

Take these resumes and pursue careers in design, business and science until the right career path (i.e. job) emerges.

Remember this basic rule of job hunting:

It is always easier to find a job when you are employed. This applies to the fashion designer who wants to be research associate and to the marketing professional with a passion for design.

Whatever you pursue (whether it’s one career path or 3), be sure you only send information relevant to the position.

I hope this answers your question Vijay but if you have any questions, please put them in a comment below.

If anyone else has a specific career situation they need advice on, please feel free to contact us. We can’t promise to answer every question, but we will try…!


  1. Vijay on June 29, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Thank you so much Travis for your in depth analysis and advice. I think i have a lot of work to do with regard to creating 3 different Resumes. Will try my best. Was actually shocked to see such a detailed and personalized advice from you.

    Thank you once again. I will continue to ask for your advice when i need some.

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