One of the most important things we learn during our Ph.D. training is the ability to do a “needs analysis”.
We learn how to get work done when resources are limited, project goals are shifted, and priorities change for things like grant proposals. Still, other times, we realize that we need to learn a new technology, or that our project’s findings point us to learning new biology.
In the face of these challenges, we learned how to complete our projects. In short, we learned to think critically about the work we are completing. So, when I say resourcefulness, I mean the ability to think critically and the ability to manage your actions to complete the task.
Sometimes, during the transition to pharma, people get so caught up in the differences between academia and pharma that we forget that there are transferable skills. Being resourceful is very important to your work in pharma as well. When you are looking to make the transition from academia to pharma, you want to remember this skill because it will serve you well when you start work in pharma.
There are plenty of differences but this will be a skill that you can fall back on so that you have a starting point to get things done. When you are asked to respond to change, it will be nothing new to you because you have done this in academia. Project outside of your field of study? No problem, we know how to tackle that. Timeline moved up on a project? No problem, we learned how to shift priorities.
You have a lot offer pharma. You have technical and transferable skills. You are more than the sum total of your publications and grants. You have the ability to determine what you need to complete projects because you had to do this during your academic career.
During your communication with pharma professionals, this is an important thing to remember. You should be thinking, “what skills would be useful in the pharma setting?” I can tell you that critical thinking is one of them.
Recall projects from your academic career in which you displayed critical thinking skills in order to solve a problem. What was the challenge, and how did you display your ability to be resourceful to solve the problem? Make sure that you are able to communicate the context in which you were working so that is clear that you have been resourceful.
Was the work foreign to you at the start? How were the resources available limiting or inadequate? When you display your resourcefulness, you are displaying that you can get things done under difficult circumstances. You are displaying the ability to be trusted with complicated issues. You are showcasing your ability to be an independent scientist.
Pharma is no different than academia in this context. People want to know that they can give you a project, and trust that if things go wrong, if challenges come up, you can solve them. When we display resourcefulness, we are working to lower the risk associated with hiring us from an academic background with little to no pharma experience. You are also giving the employer a sense of how you react to adversity. Good luck.