Learn about the companies you’re applying to. Sell yourself. And always thank your interviewers.
Alumni from Clark University’s biochemistry and molecular biology (BCMB), biology, and chemistry programs returned to campus Sept. 20 to impart these and other valuable pieces of advice to undergraduates who will soon be looking for an edge in the STEM job market.
The Clarkies who presented to students in Professor Donald Spratt’s “LEEPing into a Science Career” class were: Ashley Burke ’16 (BCMB), M.S. ’17, research associate for Novartis; Elizabeth Nelson ’16 (BCMB), M.S. ’17, associate scientist for LakePharma; Rachel Orlomoski ’17 (biology), M.S. ’18, research associate for AbbVie; Emilie Ogisu ’17 (biology), M.S. ’18, associate scientist for Affinivax; Noah Schwaegerle ’17 (BCMB), M.S. ’18, research associate for Beam Therapeutics; and Faith Witkos ’19 (chemistry), scientific associate for Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
The presenters counseled the students to begin applying for jobs the January before graduation and to pursue positions in areas of research that appeal to them over the long term.
During the interview process, ask each of the scientists interviewing you how long they’ve been at the company and where their research interests lie, Orlomoski advised.
“If they’ve been at the company for a long time and they are still excited about the science they are working on it is a good company to work for,” she said.
Added Nelson, “When going through the job search process be picky; don’t blindly apply for everything you see. If you want to be there a long time, liking the work is key.”
Additional pieces of advice the alumni offered:
The graduates also shared some of the qualities of a Clark education that have given them a step up in their work lives.
Orlomoski said the same kind of resilience that helped her complete a difficult master’s project now allows her to persevere through challenging work projects. For Witkos, the hands-on research she conducted at Clark gave her a level of experience that has impressed her employer. Ogisu noted that working in Spratt’s lab alongside like-minded students exposed her to the type of positive team dynamic she desired in the workplace.
Nelson recalled that Clark prodded her to be curious and to satisfy that curiosity through learning and action. “I want to learn versus I think I want to learn is such an important distinction,” she explained.
The opportunity to do self-directed research at Clark stoked Schwaegerle’s passion for leading projects. “There is something inherently motivating about being a key person driving the project forward that allows you to do better science,” he said.
All of the alumni are invested in careers that, in the words of Burke, allow them to exercise their “scientific fearlessness” every day.
Clark students can connect with alumni for career guidance, internships, employment opportunities, and networking by joining ClarkCONNECT.