Pharmaceutics and Pfizer—What to Do with Your Science Degree

Between 2000 and 2009, pharmaceutical innovations alone caused a 73% increase in life expectancy. Even today, medical treatment and pharmacy make a huge impact in people’s everyday lives. But getting a drug or product to market takes massive amounts of time, money, and teamwork from scientists of all different backgrounds. If you’re still not sure what to do with your science degree, start thinking about the pharmaceutical industry—there are dozens of opportunities for you along the drug discovery pipeline.

Last semester, BioCT produced a webinar in partnership with the UConn Center for Career Development titled “A Day in the Life of Pfizer Scientists,” where we got to hear from Pfizer recruiters about pharmaceutical career tracks and tips for potential applicants. We also had a Q/A session with a panel of Pfizer scientists who described their daily work and told us how they got to where they are now. Pfizer’s résumé and interviewing advice closely matched the tips we give here at the Center for Career Development, so we’ll focus today on how to get to a career in pharmaceuticals and, once you’re there, what a typical day might look like.

Degree-wise, there are many possible pathways you could take to end up on a drug development team. After getting your Bachelor’s, you might choose to pursue more advanced degrees, such as a Master’s or Ph.D. This path could help you become an expert in a particular field, as well as giving you unique opportunities and connections. After achieving this degree, you’d likely be able to find a position with a more advanced role.

However, you could also choose to work directly after finishing your undergraduate studies. Doing this allows you to get immediate experience in the field and work your way up from an entry-level position as you network with colleagues and mentors. Additionally, some companies offer educational assistance, so you could pursue another degree while working. One of the panelists, Rachel Simons, came to Pfizer with a B.S. in Biomolecular Science. Then, with the help of Pfizer’s educational assistance program, she got her MBA and took some database courses. She now uses her business and tech knowledge daily in her role as a Senior Associate Development Lead.

When you land the job you want, here’s what a day in the industry might consist of. There are many lab-oriented positions, such as scientists and research fellows. These workers design and execute lab experiments, run samples, and generate and analyze data using various tools. If lab isn’t your thing, there are also non-lab roles including analysts, managers, and directors. In a position like this, you’re still close to the science side of things, but you might be using your business or tech know-how and applying it to the drug discovery process. For both lab and non-lab positions, teamwork is key—you can expect to participate in many meetings within your own department and with others, since drug research and development requires a team effort.

So if you’re looking for a science-based career, pharmaceutics could be the right fit for you. It’s a field that’s still growing and benefiting patients every day, and it offers countless opportunities for you to apply your skills to something you know is making a difference.

“A Day in the Life of Pfizer Scientists” was part of an ongoing webinar series on careers in bioscience, produced by BioCT in partnership with the UConn Center for Career Development. Please see BioCT’s website for a recording of the full webinar. The next webinar is “A Day in the Life of a Government Affairs Professional at Boehringer Ingelheim” and scheduled for Tuesday, March 29, 2019 at 10:00 am – 11:00 am EDT: Register here.

By May Zhang
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