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Career shift from academia to industry

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On August 17, 2018

When I was finishing high school I had no idea what I would like to study, so our study counselor gave me the study guide to look at the options. I started to flip through the pages and after finding Pharmacy I knew this would be for me. While studying pharmacy I got interested in organic chemistry and thought that would be important in the field of pharmaceutical research. Eventually, I obtained a PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry.


During my PhD studies, I realised how difficult and frustrating experimental research can be. I found the limited research funding and resources at Universities problematic too. After a decade in research I decided it’s time to move on. When picking up the field to study I had seen myself working in the pharmaceutical industry, and now I realised I had taken the longest possible route to get there as I still was on the way.
I started to polish my CV and the cover letter; I read all the tips on how to write the perfect documents, I participated in several workshops, training sessions, and lectures related to job hunt. I got help with my documents from professional recruiters as well. I got interviews, but no matter how entry-level the position was, every time they found someone with industry experience to fill it. Getting an industry job seemed hard on every education level, and getting higher degrees didn’t make it any easier. It looked like you had to have previous industry experience or right network to land a job in the industry.


I was thinking I have to change something as I had done everything I could in my current position, and that hadn’t taken me towards my goals. So I made the bold move and became unemployed. In Finland, there are educational programs for unemployed to improve their ability to get hired. In the programs, participants get short courses tailored to their needs, but mainly they work for a company. I participated in an FEC (Further Education with Companies) program for PhDs, which was to take 6 months. After a couple of months, the company I worked for got a new client with new service needs, to which I happened to be a perfect match, and I finally landed my dream job.


People often say that working in academia is so different from working in the industry. To me, the difference is not that big. The goals are clearer in industry, and maybe just because of that, it is easier to achieve them. While in the academia the goals are vague, but if they seem impossible to reach, plans can be changed on the go. There are changing situations, tight schedules, and global collaboration in both, academia and industry. To my point of view, in the field of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmaceutical industry, the urge that drives the actions of the people is to help others by developing new drugs and making them available to those in need.

Last modified: August 17, 2018

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Career shift from academia to industry

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