Industry Spotlight: Careers in Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals

Considering a career in the biotech or pharmacy industry? Check out these resources and our recent interview with CLAS alumna Collyn Seeger ’08 ’09 from Thermo Fisher Scientific.

In this post:

Alumni Insights

Collyn Seeger ’08, ’09
B.S. Physiology and Neurobiology, M.S. Applied Genomics
Scientist II, R&D, Ion Torrent by Thermo Fisher Scientific
LinkedIn URL:

Why did you decide to pursue a career in biotechnology?
I decided to enter the biotechnology field because I felt that I would find the most success there. As an industry, biotechnology is on the rise. It is a fast-paced environment involving many different facets of technology. I thought biotech would offer me the best opportunity to use my skills, push me to learn new things, and show me how to adapt to changes. That is what I mean by success, and so far, I have not been disappointed!

What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part of my job is working on cutting edge technology. The projects I get to work on every day are brand new machines or assays, and the problems and results associated with that are things the industry most likely has never seen before. I find that very exciting!

What is a typical day in your job like?
A typical day for me usually includes one or two meetings, and the rest of the time in the lab, or doing data analysis. Sometimes, the meetings will be general lab meetings, where I have the opportunity to present my data in a formal manner to a larger audience, and receive questions and feedback. Other times, the meetings will be brainstorming sessions with my peers and supervisor to go over what I’m working on, the challenges I’m encountering, and figuring out how to solve those problems. The difficulty of the problem will affect how self-directed in the lab and subsequent data analysis I can be. If it requires more expertise, I will defer to my superiors or others with more experience in that area for guidance. These circumstances provide me a wonderful opportunity to learn new things from others. Otherwise, I am left to my own devices to solve the problem, and when I am successful, it is deeply satisfying and a proud moment for myself.

What are the current trends affecting your industry?
Right now, the Next Gen Sequencing (NGS) industry is moving towards the clinical market. New NGS technologies are helping personalized medicine become a reality. The ability to create custom panels targeting identification of specific diseases and cancer sets the bar high for accuracy and robustness in NGS assays. Navigating the FDA requirements and its approval process is also something new for the NGS industry. Those conditions are very strict, and will eventually touch all aspects of NGS, even R&D.

What advice do you have for current students looking to enter this field?
My advice for current students looking to enter this field is to get as much hands-on lab experience as possible. Be able to execute simple protocols with precision, and understand the purpose for each step in the protocol. Always be willing to try new things, even if it’s something you don’t think you’re interested in. Lastly, have a positive attitude! It’s more enjoyable and easier to work with someone who is enthusiastic and opening to learning.

Relevant Articles
GEN The Lists
Top Ten Biotech Jobs Most in Demand Over The Next Decade
“These are the positions the biotech industry will most need to fill over the next 10 years. Is yours on the list?”

2014 Highest Paying Biotechnology Jobs
By Angela Rose for

“Biotechnology is essential to our modern world. According to the Biotechnology Industry Organization, it is responsible for providing the products and technologies necessary to combat disease, protect environmental resources, and feed and fuel civilizations. This includes more than 250 biotechnology healthcare products and vaccines as well as the agricultural biotechnology used by more than 13.3 million farmers around the world. Within the industry, STEM professionals find a wide variety of employment opportunities. The following are among the highest paying according to recent data from a major pay-aggregating website…”

Industry Job Boards
LinkedIn Biotech Jobs
Monster: Biotech Jobs
NIH Careers
Pharma Diversity Job Board
Pharma Opportunities
Tiny Tech Jobs

Professional Associations and Resources
Biotechnology Institute
Careers in Biotech
Career videos from PBS

The UConn Center for Career Development does our best to share up to date, relevant resources; however the Center for Career Development does not specifically endorse any of these sites. Before joining an organization, investing in classes, or utilizing a placement agency be sure to check its credentials through additional sources.

By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences