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Kristy Houck—On Becoming a Market Research Analyst

I received a BS in Biochemistry and Environmental Science from Juniatain 2001 and then wasn’t sure what to do. I ended up doing an internship in dairy nutrition and then became a research technician in a pharmacology lab. This then led to me entering a graduate program at PennStateUniversitythat offered both a PhD in Pharmacology and a MBA, of which I graduated in May 2008. I love science, but I also really enjoyed the business classes but also really enjoyed the business classes that I took as part of my MBA program

I knew from the get-go that I did not want to do a postdoctoral fellowship or embark on research career so I began exploring alternative career pathways. I had heard of many options, but I soon found out that it was harder than I expected to find detailed information and network with those outside of academics or the research side of industry. Luckily for me, several PhD scientists in my network had also decided to eschew research careers for other career options. Through my network, I was able to land an internship with an asset management company doing biotech investment research. This opportunity led to my current position as a business analyst and consultant in life sciences market research.

Pursuing non-research careers can be challenging and daunting for most life sciences graduate students. This is because most PhD advisers only have connections in academia and their connections in industry rarely extend beyond research activities.  Moreover, scientists are notoriously poor networkers. The best advice that I can give is to learn as much as you can about alternate or non-traditional careers by attending career development seminars, reading anything you can find on the subject and most importantly to build a network of scientists, business people, family and friends who may be able to help you land an internship or find a lead for a job. Finally, if you know that research is not for you, get out of the lab as soon as possible and focus on the knowledge and skills that you may need to advance a non-research career.

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