This blog comes to you from the interdisciplinary Researcher Professional Development team at the University of Sheffield. We’ll be updating on researcher issues, national news and trends, key achievements for the team, and other things that research staff, and staff development professionals will find of interest.

Job title and company: Medical Writer/ Life Science Research Analyst at SIRIUS Market Access@siriusmaccess

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £20,000 – £30,000

S DAY2 289804.jpg I received a biology degree from Humboldt University in 2007 and a PhD in molecular medicine in 2012. As I had lived in Berlin all my life, I decided to go abroad and take on a postdoctoral position at the University of Sheffield (Department of Neuroscience) to examine mitochondrial transport in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, during that time, it became clear that an academic career wasn’t going to be for me. The reasons for wanting to leave academia were very similar to those of other ‘leavers’ who I talked to at the time: even though I loved science, I just didn’t feel passionate enough to put up with the fact that my work-life balance was way off, and that I was facing a career that involved constant struggling for funding or moving from one short-term contract to the next. About two-thirds into my contract, I started looking for opportunities outside of academia: I attended career seminars, engaged in science outreach and blog writing activities, and signed up for the University’s mentoring programme, all of which helped me to get an idea of the general possibilities, and of what I did and didn’t want to do.

I am now a medical writer at SIRIUS Market Access in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and have not regretted the transition once. In the beginning, the move away from what I had known and done for so long felt difficult and a bit overwhelming: I had to learn about health economic concepts, terminology, and processes in a very short space of time. However, after about six months of working on a wide range of projects and receiving support from my line and senior management, I felt confident that I had a good understanding of what I was doing, and that I was delivering decent work.

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The company works with global pharma companies, facilitating the communication of the benefits of their new drugs. We develop market access and pricing strategies, produce value propositions and value dossiers, help with evidence generation (e.g. systematic and targeted evidence reviews, as well as clinical trials packages), design health economic models, and give scientific advice. To put this more simply, we analyse large data sets, extracting key learnings and strategic insights in order to aid our clients with their market access and reimbursement activities. Most of what we do is secondary research, but we also conduct interviews with decision-makers and clinicians, thereby generating primary evidence.

Realistically, we’re talking about a desk job with extensive usage of Microsoft Office software, but then I don’t think this description does the job justice. I really enjoy the variety of projects and disease areas I get to work on, and I get a much greater sense of achievement than I used to get from lab work. A typical month is shown below but as activities and responsibilities shift, this schedule is fluid, and some months involve more travelling than others.

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I believe that doing a PhD (and in my case also doing a postdoc) has proven beneficial to the job that I’m doing now, as I have gained numerous useful skills through these positions. Sure enough, some of the transferable skills that SIRIUS look out for in potential candidates include:

  • Experience of sourcing and working with published literature, as well as generating evidence.
  • Ability to use referencing software.
  • Ability to analyse and synthesise a large evidence base, and draw conclusions post analysis.
  • Ability to stay motivated and on track in the face of a large project.
  • Curiosity and not being intimidated by new scientific concepts.
  • Capability to work independently with minimal supervision.

As I’ve said before, I’ve not regretted changing careers once – but do I get what I was hoping for? There is currently a considerable need for medical writers, and several writing hubs have evolved in London, the larger Manchester area, and Oxford. Therefore, there are not only multiple options to choose from, but these options also offer long-term job stability as well as personal and career development opportunities. While an initial pay-cut is unavoidable, especially when moving from a post-doc position, salaries will soon level and (at least in my experience) the overall job satisfaction will outweigh this temporary disadvantage.

Finally, my career tip would be to not be afraid of or feel stigmatised for wanting to leave academia. A multitude of alternative careers has become available, so all you need to do now is to get talking to people and find out about the skills you might want to acquire (get some writing experience, if you’re thinking of becoming a medical writer!), and to try different things so as to explore what you might or mightn’t like to do instead of academic research.

Where can researchers look for jobs like yours? Indeed.co.uk, any of the pharma recruitment agencies (e.g. Carrot Pharma), or pharma company web pages.

STEMIf you’re a woman in STEM who’s coming to the end of your masters or doctorate, your focus might be shifting towards looking for a job. Once you’ve got your CV prepared, it’s a long slog of uploading it to job sites and looking for employers who will value your skills.

But there is another way! Whilst a lot of careers fairs are focused only on bachelor’s graduates, the Finding Ada Online Careers Fair for Women in STEM, sponsored by Xero, on Thursday 1 February has a far broader remit and is for graduates at all levels, as well as for women early in their career and those returning to work after a break. It allows you to talk directly to employers from some great companies across the UK and Europe and discuss specific opportunities via chat.

The fair couldn’t be simpler: To take part, all you need to do is to create an account and a profile with information about your education, experience and contact details. On the day, you’ll be able to take a look at the jobs that each employer posts in their virtual booths. If you find something interesting, you can request a private one-on-one video, audio or text chat with the recruiters from the company or group. When a recruiter is free, the system pairs you up for the chat, which can be as long or short as you like. After the fair, recruiters follow up, using the contact details you supplied.

They will be recruiters from a great range of companies including ARM, the European Patent Office, Capgemini, Accenture, STEM Women, the Government Digital Service, American Express, and Unruly. The IET will also be on hand to talk to engineers about ongoing professional development and professional certification.

Our employers are looking for people from a broad range of STEM fields, including biomedicine, chemistry, civil engineering, structural engineering, data science, design, electrical engineering, electronics, environmental, forensics, healthcare, materials, mechanical engineering, nutrition, pharmaceutical, software, hardware and more.

If you’re still feeling a bit lost, we have some handy guides to help you, including more details on how to set up a candidate profile, tips for video interviews (video), how to settle in after relocation, and additional detailed advice on preparing for an interview. And we’ve more tips, tricks and encouragement on the way!

So sign up free today, put Thursday 1 February in your diary, create your profile and get ready for some great conversations that we hope will lead to some excellent opportunities!

 

Suw Charman-Anderson founded Ada Lovelace Day in 2009 with the aim of raising the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire. It is an international day of celebration that helps people learn about the achievements of women in STEM, inspiring others and creating new role models for young and old alike.

 

Today has been designated as the most dismal day of the year.

Can it also be a challenge to have a great day anyway?

The third Monday of January is known as Blue Monday as it is thought that:

  • post-Christmas blues
  • dreary weather
  • dark mornings/nights
  • low bank balance
  • payday still over a week away

Read the rest of this entry »

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job title: Independent Scientific Writing Consultant

Preffered main picture.jpgWhat I do: Although I refer to myself as a ‘scientific writing consultant’, this is one of those titles that leaves plenty of room for interpretation and individual definition. You are not likely to find a standard job description for a writing consultant anywhere, that’s for sure. Someone once said that one of my workshops had only been promoted as a Read the rest of this entry »

Happy New Year folks!  I hope 2018 is treating you well so far?  Welcome to my first blog of the year.

As is traditional for this time of year, I will be writing about New Year’s Resolutions.  Before you decide to skip this post entirely, I’ll not be banging on about the latest diet that, according to most media outlets, everyone is supposed to be on, but rather the work-related goals you may be setting yourself this year, and how the Think Ahead offer may be able to assist you in achieving them. Read the rest of this entry »

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job title and company: Researcher Development Manager, Faculty of Science, University of Sheffield.

San 1.jpegMy professional life started with a PhD in Parasitology hosted in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (Maryland, USA). Read the rest of this entry »

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job title and company: Business Development Director at Adelphi Communications*.

adelphi13916-131.jpgI completed my PhD in 2008, and then took a 2-year post-doc position in the Institute for Cancer Studies. I had always planned to leave academia and work in industry, but 2008 was a bad year for industry jobs (even though I had 3 years of industry experience). And the post-doc project I came across was really interesting, so I persevered with academia. Read the rest of this entry »

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

Job Title and Company: Senior Funding Proposal Writer, Abbey Tax and Consultancy Services

Salary Range: £21,000-£40,000

Matthew-Hicks.jpgI did my Biochemistry undergraduate degree at Liverpool, intercalating with a year in Lonza’s biotechnology research department in the upper Rhone valley, Switzerland. I then pursued a PhD in bacterial protein transport, at the John Innes Centre, Norwich. Read the rest of this entry »

Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.

@musicedsolution @DrLizStafford

Job title and company: Director, Music Education Solutions® Limited

Approximate salary range for your type of role: Ha! When you own the company, anything from £0 to £onehundredtrillion!

E Stafford.jpgI never meant to do a PhD. I arrived at Sheffield for an MMus interview, thinking I would use that to pass the time while my voice matured enough for me to gain a place at music college. At interview I was offered a full scholarship if I applied for an MPhil leading to PhD rather than the MMus, and that was that! Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday 30th November at 3.30pm was ‘ThirTEA’, the University’s annual call to take thirty extra minutes to consider or engage in development.

I fully support this event and after enthusing the Department at 3.25pm, I decided that what I was going to do with #myThirty30 was to build a Buckyball*.  My reasoning was that for the last three years, I have encouraged others to make these as part of our annual Kroto researcher showcase but I have never tried it myself. Read the rest of this entry »