For the first time, Biotech Connection Singapore (BCS) has partnered with NTU Graduate Student Association (NTUGSA) to hold an on-campus career experience sharing event on 10th Oct 2019. This event was supported by the NTU Student Affairs Office and Career & Attachment Office (CAO). The aim of this event was to introduce NTU biomedical graduate students to a variety of career options available outside of academia and encourage them to take control of their professional life. This event featured five biomedical and science PhD holders representing different industries to share their experience in transitioning into non-academic careers and each gave their insights on how to tackle some common challenges during such transitions.
The Tan Chin Tuan Lecture theatre was filled with 100+ graduate students, mainly from School of Biological Sciences and School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. First, BCS President, Dr Chin Sau Yin, gave a short introduction of BCS – one of the largest networks that connects biomedical professionals in Singapore to the audience. Next up, the speakers gave their talks covering the following five different career paths:
- Dr Ang Siang Yun, Strategy consultant specialized in life sciences, L.E.K consulting
- Dr Wendy Leong, Patent scientist in Intellectual Property department of Yusarn Audrey
- Dr Vivek Manoharan, Bio-entrepreneur at Entrepreneur First Singapore Accelerator
- Dr Sissi Lin, Clinical manager in Medical device start-up Endofotonics Pte Ltd.
- Dr Bo Lyu, Senior medical writer at Costello Medical Singapore.
The speakers for the event(clockwise ) : Dr CHIN Sau Yin, BCS President, Dr ANG Siang Yun, senior life sciences specialist, Dr Wendy LEONG, patent scientist, Dr Sissi LIN, clinical manager,Dr Bo LYU, senior medical writer, Dr Vivek MANOHARAN, bio-entrepreneur
Some key take home messages for students who are keen to explore non-academic routes in their career paths include:
- Candidates must have commercial experience and demonstrated leadership outside of academia to land a career in Consulting.
- It’s advisable to have some prior experience such as internship in an IP law firm to land a full time position , and one needs to be customer-oriented to excel as a patent professional.
- To work well in a start-up, one needs to be flexible and adaptive in taking on various tasks that can be out of the job scope.
The second part of the event was a panel discussion where all speakers were brought together to exchange ideas on the topic “Challenges faced by PhD holders in Biomedical science/engineering when transitioning to non-academic careers, and ways to overcome them”, led by the moderator Mr Loh Pui Wah, Director of NTU CAO.
Panel discussion in progress with speakers under the moderation of Mr LOH Pui Wah, Director, NTU Career & Attachment Office
The speakers shared their reasons for pursuing non-academic careers. Dr Ang and Dr Leong mentioned the desire to work together in teams to achieve a common goal within a collaborative and interactive environment, while Dr Lyu and Dr Lin mentioned the re-identification of their strength and interest in areas other than academic research or benchwork. Dr Ang shared that a good way to identify one’s strength and career goals is to participate in activities that require commitment for only a short period of time during a PhD or a postdoc, for instance case competitions, and internships.
Collectively, all the speakers highlighted the importance of being open-minded and agile in their professional life. Mr Loh then wrapped up the event by encouraging the students to be more proactive in taking control of their careers by stepping out of their comfort zones, talking to different people and building their professional networks.
The event attracted over 100+ Graduate students from different departments of NTU
The event concluded with a networking session where Mr Loh and all the speakers were engaged in vibrant conversations with the students. It was a great initiative undertaken by NTU and BCS to educate biomedical graduate students with career options outside of academia. Several students commented that they found the talks to be very relatable and insightful. The team was proud to have received highly positive feedback and 91% of the attendees rated the event as being “very useful” and “wished to attend more of such similar events”. We hope that through this event, graduate students in biomedical sciences will be inspired and encouraged to take control of their career paths!