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5 Things to expect from Careers in the Life Science Industry Week 2021

By skye.aitken, on 22 February 2021

Read time: 2 minutes

Written by Dr Sophia Donaldson, Senior Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Starting on Monday 8th March we’re hosting a week of virtual events to help you navigate the Life Sciences Sector, and find out where you might fit within it. All events are held live, and will give you the opportunity to pose your own questions to speakers. Events are open to students, graduates, PhDs, and research staff, with full details and booking here.

Below are 5 things you can expect from the week.

  1. An overview of just how broad the Life Sciences Industry is

“Life Sciences” is a pretty loose term, right? The industry encompasses a huge range of opportunities, including roles in drug development, patenting, marketing, and selling new therapies, or communicating the latest developments in bioscience to policymakers, clinicians, and the public. We’ll kick off the week with a session at 11am on Monday 8th March from CK Group, a science-focused recruitment agency, who’ll provide an overview of the Life Science Sector, and share the kinds of roles they help companies recruit for, including roles for undergraduates, masters grads, and PhD-holders.

  1. Insight into how to use the lab and data science skills you’ve picked up from your course

Many of you will have enjoyed gaining practical experience in labs, either wet or dry, during your course. But aside from progressing within academia like your lecturers have, it can sometimes be difficult to see how these skills might translate into the workplace. So, we’re running an event to help you understand just that. In our Life Science careers in data science and the lab panel, at 6pm Tuesday 9th March, we will bring together professionals working either in lab or clinical research, or with the increasingly large amounts of data generated from them, across a range of settings. You’ll hear what their roles look like day-to-day, and gain top tips on how to follow a similar path. Organisations represented will include GSK, IQVIA, Parexel, and the NHS.

  1. Ideas for how to leave the “doing science” bit to someone else.

Many people don’t necessarily love the laboratory or data analysis elements of their study or research, and yet they still enjoy being exposed to a range of cutting-edge developments. If this sounds like you, rest assured there are plenty of ways to capitalise on your scientific knowledge and background, and stay aligned to science, without actually having to be “a scientist”. We’ll showcase some of these roles in two panel events. In Careers in Science Communication and Policy, at 6pm Monday 8th March, we bring together a range of professionals who communicate the latest life science developments to the public and policy makers. And in Biology and Business, at 6pm Thursday 11th March, we host speakers who have combined their passion for science, with roles in business, investments, and patent law. Organisations represented across these two events include CRUK, Wellcome, BBC, Incyte, and Arix Bioscience.

  1. Insight into how COVID has effected the industry

We all know the effects of the pandemic have been wide-reaching and will last for some time to come. But not all roles and organisations will be affected equally. For example, non-COVID-related health charities may be hit significantly harder than big pharma companies associated with vaccine development. We will be asking all of our speakers to share with us how COVID has impacted their role and organisation, and what they feel the lasting impact may be.

  1. A chance to experience life science sector work first-hand

You can learn a lot from hearing people discuss their roles. But the best way to decide whether or not something is for you? Try it out! We’ve organised two experiential workshops that’ll give you a taste of life sciences work. In A Career in Medical Writing  – Experiential workshop by the European Medical Writing Association 11am-12.30pm, Thursday 11th March, you’ll gain insight into the role of a medical writer, and participate in exercises to practice and improve your own medical writing skills. And in Strategy Consulting in Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare – Experiential Workshop by Cambridge Healthcare Research on Wednesday 10th March, 11am-12pm, you’ll learn about the consultant journey and the kind of consulting case studies you’re likely to face in the interview process and in the job.


Preparations for a Sustainable Career

By skye.aitken, on 15 February 2021

Read time: 2 minutes

Written by Victoria Abbott, Recruitment & Selection Adviser at UCL Careers.

Sustainability is one of the most urgent and pressing challenges we face today and many of us want to get involved through impactful careers. If you want to be part of creating a more sustainable future, then keep reading to discover how you can learn more about the sector and use your skills and experiences to generate change.

Careers in Sustainability Week is designed to give you insights into the roles, rewards, and routes into this rapidly developing sector. Here you can develop your understanding of the business issues and global challenges of the sustainability sector, preparing you for a career in the field. We know that many employers are looking for sustainability conscious employees across the entire organisation – not just in ‘sustainability’ roles.

What’s happening throughout the week, and how will I benefit from taking part?

Panel Events

Hear from employers, graduates and UCL alumni at the forefront of sustainable innovation from a wide variety of roles and sectors. These bespoke panel talks include, but are not limited to:

  • Business and Consultancy,
  • Finance & Investment,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Government & Policy,
  • Heritage Management & Preservation,
  • Wildlife and Ecology Conservation and more!

These engaging events are a great opportunity to have your individual questions answered. Find our how organisations really define sustainability and take the opportunity to network, inform yourself and engage with business representatives and sustainability professionals on the issues that matter to you.

Social Media Conversations

Engaging with the Alumni Instagram Takeover of Sustainable UCL’s profile, will give you the opportunity to really connect with select UCL alumni, all of whom are currently working in sustainable roles. Ask the questions you really want answered and boost your networking skills and sustainable connections throughout the week.

Tailored workshop

This CV workshop is highly beneficial to ensure you market your strengths and experiences effectively. This will also ensure you highlight the skills you need to be competitive in the sustainability job market.

How can I prepare for Sustainability Week?

You may want to think about the following topics prior to attending any of the events across Sustainability Week. These may help to clarify any questions you would like to ask during the event, and to make sure you get the most out of the experience.

For example:

  • Have you considered how to best demonstrate the key skills and competencies in your applications for sustainability roles?
  • How important is undertaking further study, such as a postgraduate course or professional qualification, or are most roles offered with on-the-job training?
  • How can you demonstrate your passion and knowledge for sustainability to recruiters?
  • How important is undertaking volunteering and extra-curricular activities to gain some practical experience within the sector?

And finally:

  • Have you made use of your UCL Careers service to support you with any of the above? If you would like some additional assistance, please get in touch today regarding our one-to-one appointments.

Whatever your degree subject, and wherever your particular specialism, area of interest or passion lies, a career in sustainability could be your future.

For full details of all events hosted throughout the week and how to register for events, please visit the Careers in Sustainability Week webpage.

Careers in Health Week Commencing 8 February 2021

By skye.aitken, on 27 January 2021

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Sylwia Wasiak-Rakowska, Internships & Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

Are you looking for a career that makes a difference to people’s lives? From the frontline response to coronavirus with clinical services, systems and data through to governance and diagnosis to treatment, Health Week has got it covered.

In this blog you’ll find out a bit more about each of the virtual events UCL Careers are running as part of Health Week. Make sure to book your place if you’d like to hear from and network with professionals from across this varied sector.

Throughout the week, you will learn about the different roles that are available within the sector, where future opportunities for students and graduates can be found and what you can be doing now to ensure you are best-equipped to begin your career in the health sector.

See you there!

Tuesday 9 February

Careers in Frontline Healthcare Panel, 1-2.30pm

If you enjoy working with people and want to make a real impact in people’s lives, then you’ll value our Frontline Healthcare Panel where you’ll hear from and have the opportunity to put questions to healthcare professionals and those training to work directly with patients and clients in a health focused role.

Professionals with experience in the areas of Medicine, Speech and Language Therapy and Midwifery will be in attendance, with more to be announced.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Wednesday 10 February

Health Careers Discovery Evening, 6.30-8.30pm

Join UCL alumni professionals, working in a range of health roles, for this discovery panel and networking evening where you will have the opportunity to hear about their experiences and their insights and connect in smaller groups for networking.

Professionals with experience in the areas of Global Health, Health Communications and Health Policy will be in attendance, with more to be announced.

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.

Thursday 11 February

Data and Diagnostics Panel, 5.30-7.30pm

Challenges to health and health systems are changing rapidly on a global scale and the ways in which data and diagnostics are used to make decisions on preventing, treating and curing diseases are crucial. If you are interested in how data analytics and diagnostics are being used in the Health Sector, book onto this panel event where you will hear from professionals who are actively engaging in using data to improve our lives.

Panellists include health professionals from Aquarius Population Health, NHS Digital, Oxford Heartbeat, and more!

See event details and sign up to attend on myUCLCareers.


All Health Week events are open to UCL students and recent graduates with an interest in the sector, regardless of your degree subject.

Be sure to look out for information on live opportunities you can apply for in the Health sectors on UCL Careers Twitter feed during Health Week.

Once you’ve booked your place, why not explore our Online Careers Library for useful sector guides, job profiles and key job sites in preparation for the events?

5 things to gain from International Development Week

By skye.aitken, on 18 January 2021

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

UCL Careers will be running a series of online events between 1 – 4 February focusing on careers within International Development. The week will kick off with an introductory session, followed by panel discussions throughout the week, giving you the opportunity to hear from professionals working in the industry. These panel events are an excellent opportunity to hear about new career pathways, as well as giving you the opportunity to gain sector insights from people working in the industry.

Below we’ve highlighted 5 things that you will gain from attending events run during the International Development Themed Week.

  1. An introduction to International Development

Throughout the themed week you’ll learn about what working in International Development means and find out what opportunities there are for graduates.

On Monday 1 February, the week will start with an introductory session run by a UCL Careers Consultant. This will provide an overview of International Development as a work sector, and offer advice on how to get the most out of the week. Registration for this talk is now open and bookings can be made through the event page.

  1. Hear from UCL Alumni working in the industry

When thinking about your own career prospects, it can often be beneficial to hear from others and see what pathway they have undertaken. By hearing from UCL Alumni you’ll be getting insights from those who have been in the same position as you and have the opportunity to gain any tips that they may share from their own experiences.

We have numerous UCL Alumni joining us throughout the week, and on Thursday 4 February we have our ‘Connecting with UCL Alumni’ event, which will focus solely on UCL Alumni. To find out more about the event take a look at the event page.

  1. Learn about different career pathways

Our events will offer insights into the range of careers and employers who work in the sector. As well as hearing these first-hand accounts, we will have a session focusing on the different career pathways within the sector. This event will enable attendees to hear about the variety of routes available to graduates, whether these are specific programmes associated with International Development, graduate vacancies or alternative career pathways that can lead to working in the industry.

For further information about our ‘Pathways into International Development’ event, take a look at the event page.

  1. Learn about how the sector has been impacted by Covid 19

Throughout all the events we’ll hear about how the pandemic has changed the work of our panellists and the sector as a whole. Given the huge impact of Covid 19, we’ll also have a dedicated session that will look into how the sector has had to adapt as a result.

Our event on Tuesday 2nd February focuses on International Economic Development and the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. For more information on the event, visit the event page.

  1. Grow your professional network

Throughout our events, you’ll have the opportunity to put your own questions to the experts. Furthermore, for some panellists we will set up individual rooms for speakers at the end of the session, giving you the opportunity to speak directly with panellists. Not only are these opportunities a unique way to learn first-hand about what working in International Development is really like, but you’ll also have the chance to grow your professional network.

For full details of all event hosted throughout the week and how to register for events, please visit the International Development Themed Week webpage.

Bookings Open for Charities & NGOs Week 2021

By skye.aitken, on 11 January 2021

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Sarah Sirrell, Information Officer at UCL Careers.

This year’s Charities and NGOs Week kicks off on Monday 25 January 2021. The main focus this year is on getting into the sector and making a difference. Whether you are committed to pursuing a career in a Charity or NGO, or just exploring your options; join our virtual panel sessions and workshops to hear from professionals working in the sector who are keen to share their experience and tips with you. This year we are excited to welcome speakers from Save the Children International, Unicef UK, British Heart Foundation, WWF-UK, The National Trust, and many more.

View the Charities & NGOs Week event schedule for more information and booking links.

Want to hear from someone with firsthand experience of working with a charity?

We heard from Sam Huddlestone, a UCL student who recently volunteered remotely with Age UK offering virtual poetry classes for older adults. Sam told us about his experience of volunteering and the impact that volunteering had on his career aspirations.

Please provide a little further information on your background; what are you currently studying and when did you do your internship/work experience?

I am currently a third year BA English Literature student and I volunteered with Age UK Kensington and Chelsea over the course of the summer of 2020.

Why did you choose to work for this organisation?

The combination of the COVID-19 lockdown, my having nothing to do over summer, and the advertisement of the volunteering position on the Student’s Union website all sort of directed me towards the placement. Age UK Kensington and Chelsea are also my local branch of Age UK and so I wanted to help out the best I could, in any way that I could – volunteering for them seemed the best way for me to be able to do that.

How did you get the job with the company? Is there anything that you would recommend to any students should they wish to get into this Sector?

I applied for the position via the Student’s Union volunteering webpage – I would recommend that students at UCL who want to volunteer consult this facility as it has some excellent opportunities available.

What were the main project(s) that you were working on during your time with the company?

I hosted weekly online poetry sessions for thirteen weeks via Zoom for Age UK Kensington and Chelsea. This involved choosing several individual poems or poets to discuss with the group every session, much like a book club. My session was part of a whole host of others that Age UK had been providing their members with over the course of the COVID-19 lockdown, during spring and into the summer, ranging from Yoga classes to Spanish classes.

What were the biggest challenges?

I think the biggest challenge was attempting to overcome my own technical ineptitude and lack of Zoom expertise (turns out not all young people are good with technology). Getting the chance to join other sessions before hosting my own was certainly a good introduction.

How did this affect you personally, working within the Charity/NGO Sector?

I think it affected me a great deal. I developed a real connection with the members in the sessions, I think because we had all been brought together by two very disparate and yet somehow conducive entities: a passion for poetry and a global pandemic. And yet, for an hour a week, we were able to forget about the latter and just enjoy reading poetry, and I must say, for the time that I hosted those sessions, they were the thing that I looked forward to most in my week.

What measurable benefits have you seen within the Company, or within the certain areas of the business that you were working in?

I can’t speak to the overall running of Age UK, or even to the Kensington and Chelsea branch thereof, but I do know that as an organization they relied, and still rely, on volunteers to help out with the running of these sessions for their members. I would hope that my volunteering with them meant that they were able to offer one more session than they had before and that by documenting my fantastic experience with them – in a way such as this – will help to encourage other students to get involved and volunteer with organisations like Age UK, and by doing so benefit organisations such as Age UK by, perhaps more importantly, benefitting its members.

What was the most rewarding element of your experience?

The most rewarding element was – as clichéd as it sounds – the feeling of making a difference, even if that difference felt infinitesimal in the grand scheme of this horrible pandemic. It seems to me that I’ve unduly gained more out of the experience than all the work I put in during my time as a volunteer, which is testament to the experience itself, and to the people I’ve met over the course of doing it.

How has this experience affected your career aspirations/plans?

There’s no doubting that my being able to lead weekly classes on poetry, fairly independently, certainly honed my teaching skills and led me to consider academia as a career option to a greater extent than I had done before. However, it has also opened my eyes to how a charity like Age UK operates and, having now seen the fantastic work they do first-hand, I would happily work for them again in the future.

Check out the UCLU Volunteering Service for volunteering opportunities big and small and don’t forget to sign up for the exciting events at UCL Careers Charities and NGOs Week 2021.

5 things to expect from Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Week 2020

By skye.aitken, on 2 November 2020

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Nicole Estwick, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

This year’s Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage week kicks off from Monday 16 November with a series of virtual events offering you information, insights and advice on the different roles and opportunities available in each sector and what you can do to make your first steps into the industry. Events during the week are open to students and recent graduates from all degree disciplines with bookings now open on myUCLCareers.

So what can you expect from this particular themed week? Read on for our list of 5 things to look out for during this year’s events:

  1. A focus on the Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage sector In relation to the Coronavirus

It’s widely known that the creative industries which Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage are part of have been particularly impacted by the Coronavirus and this will be a central focus for events that will be running during the week. We’ll be providing a wide range of perspectives from professionals working in the industry pre-Covid, during the outbreak, and we’ll also look at what could potentially lie ahead for students and graduates looking to make their first steps into these sectors in the future.

  1. Insights into the realities of the current job market in the industry

Our first event of Museums, Arts and Cultural Heirtage week will offer an insight into what opportunities are available at this time in the sector. A panel discussion and Q&A will bring together recruiters, HR staff, freelancers and other professionals working within Museums, Arts and Heritage to share views on what the current picture is on jobs and recruitment, what the future of the industry may look like and what students can be doing now to try and carve out their first steps for their career. Speaker details will be announced shortly.

Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage: Perspectives on jobs and recruitment will take place on Tuesday 17 November 2020 from 6.00-7.30pm GMT. Book your place here

  1. Information on the breadth of roles available in the sector and how they have changed as a result of current circumstances

For those of you looking to understand the different roles that exist within the industry, you will be able to join us at a virtual event with representatives in the Arts and Cultural sector to hear about their job roles, how they become involved in the industry, and if/how their work has been impacted in recent times. This will be a panel discussion and Q&A session with speakers announced in due course.

Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage: Working before and during Covid will take place on Wednesday 18 November 2020 from 6.00-7.30pm GMT. Book your place here

  1. A look at the wider impact of Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage roles in wider society

With current events leading us to look at the bigger picture, we’ll also be running an event on how the work of Museums, Arts & Cultural Heritage organisations impacts on wider society. Our panel will be discussing their roles in the context of this, at a time when our health and wellbeing is more in focus than ever.

The bigger picture in Museums, Arts and Heritage Careers will take place on Thursday 19 November from 5.30-6.45pm GMT. Book your place here

  1. Details of live opportunities and job openings within the sector

Finally, throughout the week, you will also be able to follow UCL Careers along on social media to receive information on live opportunities you can apply for in the Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage sectors.

For more details on this follow UCL Careers on Twitter

Introduction to Government & Policy Week 2020

By skye.aitken, on 22 October 2020

Read time: 2 minutes

Written by Nasima Bashar, Internships & Vacancies Administrator at UCL Careers.

Monday 26 October marks the start of UCL Careers Government & Policy Themed Week. You will find below a run through of the range of events organised to inspire and engage those who are interested in a career within the public sector, as well as those who are yet undecided. This is your chance to meet with organisations in this sector – to hear from and network with a range of guests from recent graduates to senior officials.

The following events are open to students and recent graduates from all degree disciplines and all of the events below are now bookable through your ‘myUCLCareers’ account.

All events will take place remotely.

Introduction to Government & Policy Careers
Monday 26 October: 1-2pm BST
Join representatives from the Civil Service in a talk introducing careers within this exciting sector.

Panel Discussion: Careers in the Heart of Government
Tuesday 27 October:  6-7.30pm BST
Hear from speakers working across the UK Civil Service. Guests from the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA)Cabinet Office, and the UK Civil Service Fast stream will talk about their careers to date. This event will include Q&A and a networking opportunity. 

Panel Discussion: Influencing Policy
Wednesday 28 October:  6-7.30pm BST
Hear from representatives of some of the shapers of public policy. Speakers include DEFRADCMSUniversities UK and HM Treasury. This event will include Q&A and a networking opportunity. 

Workshop: Implementing Policy
Thursday 29 October:  12-2pm BST
Guests from the Civil Service will guide you through the policy making process. You will work through a group exercise; designing and evaluating policy options to recommend for implementation. You will receive feedback throughout this process and guidance on how to approach policy recommendations.

Exploring International Careers in Government & Policy
Available from Friday 30 October 9am BST
Watch the interviews to gain some valuable insights from UCL Alumni now working in this sector across the world in a wide range of roles. Interviews will be available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/about/events/themed-weeks/government – Watch this space!

Careers in the Life Science Industry Themed Week – A Wrap up

By skye.aitken, on 23 March 2020

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Last week UCL Careers ran the Careers in the Life Science Industry Themed Week. The week consisted of seven events taking place across four days with over twenty professionals from the industry coming in to share their insights. Here are some of the key points that we’ve picked out from what our speakers shared.

Be open

It can be tricky getting an idea of what career pathways are viable to you when you’re leaving education. Panellists throughout the events spoke about the confusion they had experienced and how they weren’t sure what their next steps were going to be. Some spoke about how they embraced this as an opportunity to explore roles they had never previously considered. Even if they went on to do something completely different afterwards, they could pick out the positives from the role, such as developing soft skills that have come in useful further down the line.

Be inquisitive

If you are unsure about the role you want to do next, there’s usually someone out there who you can speak with about your options. That could be via a Short Guidance Session with UCL Careers, speaking with people at events and career days, or this can be done online through platforms such as the UCL Alumni Community or LinkedIn. Speaking with others can open up a whole range of roles that you may have never previously considered and will enable you to gain valuable insight on how to get into certain sectors. It’s also worth noting that through sparking conversations such as these, you can grow your professional network, which may even lead to getting some valuable work experience or a future job.

Be passionate… but show this in the right way

A passion for science is something often required for a role within the life science industry and will be on the checklist of many of those involved in recruitment, but how do you show this? One panellist stated that he had heard the statement ‘I have a passion for science’ so many times that it now meant very little to him. Anyone can include this generic term in a covering letter or application, what really gets the attention of the reader is being able to demonstrate your passion for science. Explain where your passion has come from; what area of science in particular is it that you enjoy? This way, recruiters will be able to get a true understanding of your passion for a subject and start getting to know you as an individual.

Be up to date

The nature of science means that it is always advancing and changing, and consequently, so are life science careers. Organisations are ever-evolving, using exciting new science to tackle problems. Keeping up to date with these can be one of the major challenges of working in the sector, according to some of the people we heard from. For example, panellists spoke about how they were required to keep up to date with the development of the COVID-19 pandemic and react accordingly to this information as part of their role. Although this can be difficult, working in a constantly developing field was something that many speakers said was one of the best aspects of their job. Using recent journal articles or news stories will help you keep abreast of the latest developments and enable you to have informed discussions about these topics.

Be flexible

Many of our panellists spoke about how they didn’t land their ideal role with the first job they got. Sometimes you may have to work in a related field before moving over to an area that interests you more. Graduate schemes can prove valuable in such situations, as they often equip you with sought-after experience as you move through departments via rotations. If a graduate scheme isn’t for you, then plenty of our panellists spoke about how they got experience in graduate entry roles before landing the role that really suited them. A sideways move or promotion within an organisation can sometimes get you where you would prefer to be within a company.

Be focused on skills

Some of our speakers advised that highlighting your skills allows you to demonstrate your suitability for a role even if you haven’t got directly relevant experience. You may find that focusing too much on particular programmes or techniques may limit you as these are constantly changing and being replaced or updated. Instead, you can still demonstrate your suitability through mentioning specific skills that are particularly relevant to the role. Crucially, don’t forget to provide evidence of how you’ve previously demonstrated these skills.

Be specific

Whether it’s during an initial message when trying to grow your network, completing an application or preparing for an upcoming interview, make sure that you’re tailoring your information for the audience in question. It’s worth spending time researching the organisation you’re communicating with, get an understanding of who they are, what they do and what type of people they work with. Through doing this you’ll be able to link your own skills, experiences and values with theirs, demonstrating your suitability to work with them.

What did we learn from our “Biology and Business” panel? | Careers in the Life Science Industry

By skye.aitken, on 12 March 2020

Written by Sophia Donaldson, Senior Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Do you want to use your scientific knowledge and interest in business to help commercialise new discoveries? Well, you really should have come to our Biology and Business event on Monday night, shouldn’t you? Don’t worry though, if you couldn’t make it along, we’ve collected together the key take-home points below.

Who were the speakers?

Matt Aldridge, a trainee patent attorney at Kilburn & Strode LLP, where he works at the interface between science and law. Matt has a biochemistry degree from UCL, and an MSc in cellular therapy from bench to market from KCL. Matt spent a year working in a lab-based role before moving into patent law.

John Cassidy, an investment associate at Arix Bioscience, a Biotech-focused venture capital group based in London and New York. John has a neuroscience PhD from UCL, and experience in life science consulting.

Mikhaila Chowdhury, a brand manager at GSK consumer healthcare, where she focuses on digital marketing across oral care and wellness products. Mikhaila has a clinical background in dentistry, completing vocational training at UCL’s Eastman dental institute. After leaving dentistry, she studied a masters in international health management at Imperial, then went through the Future Leaders Program at GSK.

Ismael Gauci, a senior consultant at Deloitte, where he helps clients solve problems across R&D and clinical operations. Ismael has a PhD in cardiovascular science, and before joining Deloitte, he worked at Deallus, a smaller life-science-focused consultancy.

Rachel Greig, a medical science liaison at Incyte, a biotech company, where she focuses on the clinical development of treatments in haematology and oncology. Rachel has a PhD in immunology, and experience in policy work in the charity sector, and in public affairs at the pharmaceutical company Lilly.

And Ella Nuttall, a manager in KPMG’s healthcare and life sciences division. Ella took up an internship at the Wellcome Trust during her Psychology undergraduate, then after completing her MSc in health psychology at UCL, she worked as a health psychology specialist for Lucid, a medical communications agency, before joining KPMG.

What do people like about combining life science with business?

The panel all agreed that the best things include working at the cutting-edge of science, and having access to people who are leaders in their field. For instance, Ella mentioned recent trips she’d taken across the world – notably to Japan – to speak with scientific experts to inform her consultancy.

Some pros were particular to certain sectors. Matt enjoys playing with language and arguing a point, and his role in trying to prove a new invention is original allows him to do that. Mikhaila enjoys the creativity involved in her marketing role. Rachel enjoys the variety that her role brings, as she finds herself visiting different hospitals and interacting with different experts each day. And Ismael and Ella both enjoy the problem solving aspect of consultancy.

Panellists also spoke about the added dimension of having to think commercially, not only scientifically, as appealing to them. Mikhaila and Rachel see the movement between roles and divisions that is possible within large pharmaceutical companies as a benefit – once you get in, you can try new things.

What are the downsides?

The downsides varied depending on the role. The working hours were mentioned as a potential downside of consultancy by Ismael and Ella, and John also commented on this from his past consultancy experience. Ella emphasised that considering what work-life balance means to you is important, but she and Ismael both enjoy the exciting projects they work on, which keep them engaged during potentially long hours.

Something John misses from consultancy is the teamwork and the structured development. Venture capital involves a lot more independence and lone working, and individuals must take more responsibility for their own development, which can be a challenge.

As a Medical Science Liaison, Rachel enjoys her frequent travel to different hospitals, however, she is London based, and so her travel is often simply a normal London commute. She noted that colleagues based outside of London who cover wide territories may spend hours in the car to visit hospital sites, which suits some people, but not everyone.

Matt is early in his training as patent lawyer, but he mentioned encountering more resistance to patent applications than he expected. When you’ve argued a case and it gets rejected, that’s a low point of the role.

Will getting a PhD or a business qualification help me get in?

Three of our speakers had a PhD, and one speaker was a qualified dentist. So if you have a PhD or MD in the life science industry, clearly you won’t be the odd one out. But what if you don’t have a PhD already? Should you get one?

The general consensus from the panel was: only if you actually want one. They all emphasised what a lot of work PhDs can be, and the commitment needed to see them through. PhDs were mentioned as advantageous in patent law and biotech venture capital especially, to the point where some organisations may demand them, however, both Matt and John said there are other work experiences that can get you into both fields, and Matt is proof that people can enter patent law without a PhD.

The panel also agreed that if you want to take a business qualification for your own benefit – so you can decide if you enjoy business, or so you can feel more confident in interviews – then go for it. Matt enjoyed his science and business MSc, which he applied for through genuine interest. However, the panel all agreed that most employers think it’s easier to teach a scientist the principles of business than the other way around, and so your science knowledge and experience is likely to be more valuable than a business qualification.

So what can I do to enhance my chances of getting in?

  • Accept that confusion and rejection are normal, and keep trying. Every speaker shared stories of being confused about what direction to take, and then of being rejected once they’d decided on a direction. These are completely normal parts of everyone’s careers, and the panel encouraged everyone to keep ploughing onwards. 
  • Sometimes you need to take a job you don’t want to get to the job you do want. Sometimes rejection indicates there’s a gap in your experience that needs to be filled. So just as Matt worked for a year in a lab to gain hands-on science experience so he could get into patent law, and just as Rachel worked in public affairs to gain pharma experience so she could transition into a medical science liaison role, sometimes you may have to take a role you don’t particularly want in the short term, so that you can achieve your longer term goals. John too mentioned that it wouldn’t generally be possible to enter venture capital directly from science, as some prior business experience – perhaps in consultancy – would also be expected. And Ella mentioned that if you find it hard to get into larger consultancies, or if you don’t want to enter at the graduate level, gaining other work experience first – like her experience in a medical communications company, and Ismael’s experience at a smaller consultancy – will help.
  • Get networking! Our speakers provided examples of just how crucial networking can be, as Ella found her first post-MSc job through speaking to an academic, and Rachel found her way into pharma through a contact she met at a conference. So attend relevant events, chat to people, and reach out to professionals on LinkedIn.

Check out the other events forming part of Careers in the Life Science Industry Week here.

What to expect from Careers in the Life Science Industry Week 2020

By skye.aitken, on 26 February 2020

Written by Sophia Donaldson, Senior Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

From the 9th March we’re hosting a week of daytime and evening events to help you explore careers in the Life Sciences. Here’s a rundown of the week and how it can help you.

What is the Life Science Industry?

The Life Science Industry encompasses anything that aligns with Life Sciences. So a huge range of opportunities fall under this umbrella, including roles in drug development, patenting, marketing, and selling new therapies, or communicating the latest developments in bioscience to policymakers, clinicians, and the public. We’ll kick off the week with a session at 12.30pm on Monday 9th March from CK Science, a science-focused recruitment agency, who will provide an overview of the Life Science Sector, and share the kinds of roles they help companies recruit for, including roles for undergraduates, masters grads, and PhD-holders.

Can I stay in the lab?

Yep! If you’ve enjoyed your laboratory experiences so far, come along to our “Roles in the lab” event at 6-8pm on Tuesday 10th March to hear from a panel of speakers who’ve built careers in labs within commercial companies and the public/university sector. In all of our panel events, speakers will describe their roles, share their career journeys so far, and offer top tips for progressing in similar careers. There will also be an opportunity to ask your own questions of the panel too.

Can I work with data?

Certainly! If it’s the increasingly large datasets emerging from the lab that interest you, join us at 6.30-8.00pm on Thursday 12th March for our “Data Science Careers” panel, where speakers from private, government, and university settings will talk about their roles, and offer tips on how to enter the field.

Can I work in the Life Science Sector, but leave the “doing science” bit to someone else?

You sure can! And we have three – yes, three! – events to show you possible ways to do it.

At 6-8pm on Monday 9th March we have our “Biology and Business” panel, where speakers will share how they use their scientific knowledge in a commercial context. You’ll hear from professionals working across life science consultancy, patent law, biotech investments, and on the business side of big pharmaceutical companies.

At 3-5pm on Wednesday 11th March we’re hosting a Strategy Consultancy Experiential Case Study Session, where Cambridge Healthcare Research will give you the chance to try out a consulting case study that reflects their daily work, and will be similar to the type of case you’ll face in the consulting application process.

At 6-8pm on Wednesday 11th March we’re running a “Life Science Communication and Policy Careers” panel, where you can hear from professionals communicating new scientific developments to a range of audiences, including policy makers and the public.

And at 12pm on Thursday 12th March a representative from the European Medical Writing Association will run an interactive workshop, providing a taste of life as a Medical Writer, and offering tips for improving your writing.

For another look at the full week’s schedule, visit the Careers in the Life Science Industry Week page.