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Meet Jaden Spring 2022 Campus Ambassador

Jaden Richardson is a junior at the University of Hartford studying biology and pre- pharmacy. He graduated from Freeport high school in NY in 2019.

While writing this piece, I stopped to reflect on what keeps me going and why I wanted to be a part of the medical field, specifically pharmacy. Being the oldest of three and the protector of my little brothers, compassion and my constant desire to help others was almost innate .

Growing up, my first dream job was definitely to be an astronaut. The thought of space’s vastness and striving tounlock its limitless bounds was something that always intrigued me. Similarly to my fascination with space, the unknown aspects of the study of medicine and biological sciences is what mostly intrigues me about the field.

In the third grade is where my big shift from astronomy to my love of medicine came to fruition. My third-grade teacher at the time was a person who took the study of animals very seriously. The class at the time had a turtle named Benji. Benji was a very interesting turtle in that he had a large abscess on the side of his face. Throughout the school year, all my classmates would take turns feeding him and giving him his medicine. Now, at the time none of us knew what the medicine was for but we still willingly gave it to him in order to help .This was a pivotal point for me in that it subconsciously made me more interested in different types of treatments out there andtheir effects on living things. My turn came towards the end of the year and the week I was feeding him, his infection was almost completely gone. The whole class cheered and I was seen to be the hero of the year for saving Benji. From then on, I knew I wanted to work with medicine and save others like Benji. This way of playing doctor evencontinued at home and to this day. When anyone in my family gets sick, I’m the first one everyone goes to for help.

As my education furthered, my love for science continued to grow. I took more science classes in order to learn as much as I could and it became like an obsession to me. Being as competitive as I am, in high school I began taking part in science fairs and outside research. This influenced my decision to come to college in hope thatI can continue my passion.

Currently, I am an undergraduate junior at the University of Hartford as a biology, pre-pharmacy major.The deciding factor for me in going this route was when I had a

conversation with a family member who is recently new to the field. His overall passion for the impact he was making on his patients on a daily basis inspired me to want the same career. I’ve envisioned working in a hospitalbecause that’s where I believe some of the best work is done in this field.

Therefore, as an aspiring pharmacist, something I hope to accomplish or gain out of this career path is totruly impact people’s lives through medicine and science.

-Written by Jaden Richardson

Featured

Meet Mariangelie Spring 2022 Campus Ambassador

This Spring Mariangelie Beaudry was selected to participate in Beyond the PhD’s Campus Ambassador Program. She graduated from Agawam High School in Agawam, MA in 2019 and currently is a a junior at the University of Hartford studying biology.

The earliest age that I can remember wanting to be a part of the medical field was at the age of eleven in my health class where we learned basic anatomy. I was fascinated by everything that I learned and had looked forward to that class every week. Keeping in mind that my love for the sciences was growing, the following year my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

Once she had been diagnosed, I began to ask lots of questions about the types of things she was going through. I was curious about the symptoms she was experiencing, the treatments she was receiving, and in what ways it was also affecting all of my family members. As time had progressed, I had noticed that there was not a lot of awareness about pancreatic cancer and it was not talked about enough. As a twelve-year-old, I went to my town hall and met with the mayor to see in what ways I could make a difference and bring more awareness to pancreatic cancer. After a couple of meetings, I was able to work with the mayor and declare November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month in my town. I was really proud of the awareness that I was able to spread for my grandma before she passed away. 

In the following years, I continued to follow my passions with biology and other sciences in high school. In the back of my mind, I was always thinking about the more knowledge I could have to better understand the body and what my grandma had experienced. Afterward, I was also thinking about the effects of cancer in my family line and how that plays a role in genetics. In my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity of going back to the junior high school I had attended and working with my teacher that had taught me science in seventh grade. I loved that I had come full circle and was able to help students at that age with labs and provide any guidance that I could from my perspective. 

Now, currently a junior at the University of Hartford, I realize even more how much I enjoy working with people and being able to provide advice from my point of view and the knowledge that I have. I am currently a biology major and have been enjoying all of my science classes thus far. On campus, I have had more opportunities to work with people such as being a tour guide where I am able to guide prospective students around campus and give them an insight into campus life as well as specialize in the biology labs. On top of that, I am an orientation leader where I get the opportunity to help the incoming first-year class get acclimated to being on a university campus and get some of those first-day jitters out. Lastly, I am a member of the student government association where I get to work with other students and be an advocate of the student’s voices. I enjoy that club especially because it allows me to bring to life my other hobbies in politics that I do not give as much attention to sometimes. 

Currently, I am planning on going into a program after graduation where I can work with people, teaching them about genetic disorders that could potentially affect them in their lifetime and in what ways they can cope with it. I am aspiring to educate people and positively impact their lives. I am hopeful that I can help as many families as possible and I am very excited to see where else my journey takes me. 

Written by Mariangelie Beaudry

Career Showcase: Medical Science Liaison

Beyond the PhD recently hosted Dr. Leia Shuhaibar, who gave the first hybrid seminar in our Career Development Seminar Series. Dr. Shuhaibar is a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) at Ferring Pharmaceuticals. Her educational background includes earning a B.S. in Biology from the University of Zulia in Venezuela, a Masters in Cell & Molecular Biology from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a PhD in Biomedical Science from UConn Health. As a PhD student, Leia’s research focused on reproductive biology. At that time, she had interest in becoming a lab director of at an in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic. In pursuit of this goal, she took every opportunity to get closer to the IVF world – attending courses & conferences, doing job shadowing at the local IVF clinic, and connecting to professionals in the field. In addition, Leia mentioned some teaching activities she participated in like teaching a cell biology course at a local UConn branch campus and teaching lab skills for a summer class.

After graduating with her PhD, Dr. Shuhaibar set out to find an embryologist position but ran into some hurdles doing so. This position often requires an individual with experience, but it was very difficult to get your foot in the door in this field to gain that vital experience. To complicate the matter, Dr. Shuhaibar was an international student with no working permit. As such, Dr. Shuhaibar decided to pivot and take a post-doc position, still at UConn Health, where she continued her work with ovarian physiology research and also started a new project involving bone growth and disease. Eventually, her immigration paperwork issues resolved and she landed a job as a part-time embryologist at the IVF clinic. She noted this as rewarding, but challenging since she had to complete the same amount of work as a full-time post-doc while working part-time. After getting this position which she worked for years to attain, her family plans changed when her husband got a job in Texas.

In Texas, her first choice was to continue training as an embryologist and researcher. However a position in this line of work didn’t present itself. To expand her job search, Leia reached out to contacts in her network that could lead to a job opportunity. This included visiting PI’s at Baylor School of Medicine, attending recruitment events, and performing dozens of informational interviews. For informational interviews specifically, Dr. Shuhaibar mentioned reaching out to people on LinkedIn and asking if they had ten minutes to answer two questions about their career. She said her best advice is to talk to people. Many of these conversations lasted longer than ten minutes, and Leia was impressed with how many people were willing to help her on her journey. She considered jobs in embryology, teaching, consulting, research & discovery (R&D), medical writing, and clinical research. During her search, she re-connected with one of her contacts she had made six years prior at the IVF clinic who had a job opening for an MSL position near Houston, where Leia now lived, at Ferring Pharmaceuticals.

While the MSL role always intrigued her, Dr. Shuhaibar was hesitant due to the travelling responsibilities potentially disrupting her family responsibilities as a mom. When she discovered the Ferring MSL position covered a mostly local territory, she decided to pursue it. To prepare to apply for the job, Leia made her CV into a 1-2 page resume in industry format, meaning that publications were listed last and “soft” skills, like teaching and presenting, took the spotlight. Additionally she listened to podcasts like “MSL Talk” and “MSL Consultant” so that she could incorporate more field-specific language in her application materials. For example, instead of using the term “PI’s” or “doctor”, she used terms like “key opinion leaders (KOLs)” and “health care professionals (HCPs).”

You may be now wondering, “What is an MSL?” Well, they are a part of the medical affairs department and are the scientific intermediary between pharma companies and HCPs & KOLs. Their main responsibility is to establish strong relationships with HCPs & KOLs within a specific territory and to gather medical insights to inform decision-making within the pharma company. Typically, individuals with a PhD, PharmD, or MD are qualified to be MSLs. Leia placed particular emphasis that MSL are couriers of purely scientific data. They are not selling or promoting any of the drugs the pharmaceutical company offers. In fact, an MSL can get in a lot of trouble for promoting a drug or even engaging in scientific conversation with a physician while a sales rep is in the room. Ideally, an MSL is a resource for physicians. This requires MSLs to stay abreast of current literature and clinical trials, attend conferences to provide summaries to physicians, and answer any questions physicians may have. Other responsibilities of an MSL include helping prepare for product launches, submitting insights from HCP interactions, compiling weekly travel expense reports, and planning future travel.

The onboarding process of becoming an MSL can take approximately 3-5 months. During this time, an MSL must become knowledgeable in all the products they will be supporting, learn about ongoing and concluded clinical trials, understand the current state of the disease, learn current protocols being used in the field, and understand regulations around the role itself. It is key for an MSL to create value in themselves without being promotional. It is also very important that MSL’s don’t speculate about anything, and that what they tell doctors must be supported by data. For more information on the MSL career, check out the Medical Science Liaison Society (https://www.themsls.org/) or our blog post from another MSL Seminar we hosted at https://beyond-the-phd.com/2022/04/30/amanda-rendall-transitioning-into-an-msl-role/ .

Getting ready to apply for a job?

Join us on Friday July 1st (2pm ET) to hear from members of the Beyond the PhD team to learn about CVs and resumes. The Beyond the PhD team consists of Biomedical Science senior level PhD students, early career professionals in academia and, outside of academia with several years of job applying experience. Attendees of this workshop will be guided through the process of creating a CV and resume and how to convert your CV to a resume when applying for jobs outside of academia. You will review real examples of both documents. Moreover, you will gain insight to the types of buzz words and skills to be sure to include in your applications to help you land that perfect job wether it be in industry, academia, or beyond. Register below to secure your seat! (link here as well: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/362473577227)

How to find quality mentors in your PhD and beyond

At this point in my graduate career, I have been fortunate to find and maintain various mentors that have not only supported me throughout my schooling, but also pushed me to reach beyond what I thought my limits were. Below you will find some tips and tricks which I’ve gleaned through my experience that may help you on your own journey through a PhD.

What is a mentor? This word often gets used to refer to a variety of roles that a specific individual may play in your life. I personally think of my mentors as those who are more experienced in the field that I am seeking advice in, and whom I have developed a relationship with in order to be advised more personally. Let me share a few examples of mentors I currently have:

Starting in undergrad, I was able to build a strong connection with a professor, Dr. Cody. I took many courses with him and eventually joined his lab doing microbiology research. Dr. Cody was highly influential in my decision to pursue a PhD program and he opened my eyes to the many opportunities available to me in the sciences. To this day, now four years out from when I graduated, he continues to offer words of wisdom and guidance when grad school seems unbearable at times, helping me to reach my full potential in my field.

When I entered graduate school, I was tasked with finding the right lab, the right project, and ultimately, the right mentor. I was told once that graduate school is likely the only time you get to choose your boss, and thankfully, I chose very well. My current PI, Babak, is very supportive of my career goals, my science, and my desire to maintain healthy boundaries between work and personal life. In the mentor role, he takes the time to sit with me each week to discuss project progress and direction to make sure I am on track for my goals. Outside of my project, he also provides mentorship in my career goals, reviewing my IDP (an individual development plan is used to help you focus your professional development; here’s the one I use: https://myidp.sciencecareers.org/) and helping me get in contact with those that can offer the best advice for my future career in industry. 

As I am in the final years of my program, I am starting to look for additional mentors, particularly to help navigate the transition from academia to industry. Within this process, here is the advice toward forming mentorships that I am reimplementing and want to share.

Identifying quality mentors. Now that I have given a handful of personal examples of mentors in my life, it begs the question of how do you find a quality mentor? While the specifics will vary person to person, generally you want to look for these key qualities when identifying potential mentors: 1) they are knowledgeable and more experienced in the area you need help in, 2) they take your background into account before advising (sometimes advice is not universal!), 3) they have the time to commit to mentoring you, 4) they have similar values to your own, and 5) they balance criticism or reality checks with encouragement and support. Finally, a very important aspect of choosing mentors is more subjective in nature and that is whether you personally feel comfortable interacting with and receiving constructive criticism from them. A mentor/mentee relationship is like any other relationship— the benefit you receive is going to be affected by how much you get along and are comfortable with the other person. Opportunities to start forming these initial interactions and identify mentor candidates is through networking events, conferences, or informational interviews. This is then followed by building and maintaining the relationship.

Building a mentor relationship. You shouldn’t enter into a conversation looking to walk out with a mentor immediately; these types of relationships take time to build. To start, identify people that could offer help in certain aspects of your professional life, build a relationship with them through repeated contact and conversation (both formal and informal) and mentorship will naturally grow from that. Next, build trust with your mentor by following through on action items they suggest or offer advice on, and always do your best work. With consistency, you build valuable trust with your mentor and establish a stronger relationship moving forward.

To foster a mentor relationship, consistent contact is necessary. In-person meeting are great and valuable to fully form the mentorship, however, between more formal meetings, using social media could offer a no-pressure interaction on a more regular basis. Using Twitter or LinkedIn to share interesting articles or industry news is a great way to keep in contact with a mentor. Personally, I am also a fan of email updates on my professional development or “small wins,” especially when I have time or distance constraints limiting the ability to communicate in person. Frequent contact is invaluable.

Over time, this mentorship will grow and hopefully benefit both people. The last advice is to be proactive! The only way to form a mentorship is for you to seek it out and actively maintain it. 

If you have additional advice you’d like to share about forming a mentorship, comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

Genetic Counseling

Beyond the PhD recently hosted Jennifer Stroop, a genetic counselor for the Hereditary Cancer Program at UConn Health Center to discuss her career path. Before becoming a genetic counselor, Jennifer received her MS in genetic counseling from the University of Cincinnati. She has held her position at UConn Health since 2001. Jennifer provided her insight on what it is like to be a genetic counselor and provide advice for prospective students interested in careers in genetic counseling. Jennifer explained what genetic counseling is through the definition provided by the National Society of Genetic Counseling. They state that they are healthcare workers who are specialized in an array of specialties such as prenatal, pediatric, oncology, and many others. Jennifer then described what she does as a genetic counselor through a case study. As a genetic counselor in hereditary cancer, she primarily sees breast and ovarian cancer patients, generally in the age range of 20 to 70 years old. In a typical consultation, she spends about 30 to 45 minutes chatting with the patient about their medical history and family medical history. She highlighted the importance of the core concept of risk assessment in familial and hereditary cancer. When discussing risk assessment, this can single-handedly affect the impact of the medical management of the patient she is working with. Jennifer also elaborated on the counseling portion of genetic counseling where key things to keep in mind are the benefits and limitations to taking a genetic test, the various outcomes, and who else may be at risk by the results. 

Jennifer was able to provide statistics on the profession of genetic counseling and how it is constantly evolving and growing. As of 2021, there are over 5,000 certified genetic counselors. Within the last ten years, genetic counseling has increased by over 100% and is anticipated to grow another 100% over the next ten years as well. Jennifer explained her experiences with the evolution as rewarding to have a continuation of education. She has especially enjoyed the aspect of collaboration amongst other divisions of genetic counseling such as cardiac, prenatal, and pediatrics. She also cited how the National Society of Genetic Counseling has expanded to discussing growth in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across the genetic counseling profession. 

After providing her insight into the profession and giving some advice for prospective genetic counselors, Jennifer answered some questions from the audience. The first question was in regard to picking an area of study as a new graduate. In response, Jennifer discussed her experience in deciding which specialty she chose. Jennifer wrote her thesis on cancer genetics and then gained some experience in both prenatal and pediatrics. She explains during graduate school the training will prepare you for all areas of study and it is best to follow what you desire the most; for her, it ended up being cancer genetics. Another question that Jennifer received was regarding patients: how long does a genetic counselor see a patient after care? Jennifer explained that this is very much reliant on which area you are practicing in, and the amount of risk posed by the genetic test that is performed. From her experience, there are not many meetings with patients once her care has been complete, but for divisions in pediatrics that can be very different. Other great questions that Jennifer fielded included what is the biggest challenge she faces as a genetic counselor and what is the most rewarding aspect of her career. She stated the most challenging part of genetic counseling is receiving inconclusive results of genetic testing. Patients always come in with questions and it can be difficult to not have answers for families. On the contrary, the most rewarding thing is being able to have extensive amounts of time with her patients. She enjoys having the time to hear about patients’ family histories and the concerns of her patients. One of the last questions that Jennifer received was, “What is the biggest piece of advice you have for prospective students that are looking to go into the field?” Jennifer suggested checking out the National Society for Genetic Counseling website, as it has lots of resources for prospective students and is a great starting place to begin a career search. Jennifer mentioned that she loves what she does and loves the people she works with. She closed by recommending everyone finds a workplace that makes them feel the same.

As a student who is wanting to become a genetic counselor and about to apply to a master’s program, I found speaking with Jennifer was extremely insightful. I was able to see more of the profession and what it was like from her perspective working with hereditary cancer. 

A Few Words on the Return of In-Person Conferences

With the return of in-person conferences coming in hot, there are some things that can be easily looked over or forgotten. I recently attended my first two in-person conferences of grad school. Below you’ll find a list of things that I found helped (or maybe that I had forgotten) during these events.

  • Don’t be afraid to sit alone. Whether it be at a meal or before a talk, if you aren’t the type of person to break the ice, don’t feel pressured into having to ask someone to sit with them. Even if you are typically an outgoing individual, you don’t always have to be the first one to introduce yourself. I met some of the best people from taking a seat at an empty table and having others come up to ask if they could snag a seat next to me.
  • Don’t be afraid to sit with someone else. On the reverse, if you see a group of people who pique your interest, you can absolutely make the move to ask to sit with them! Remember, everyone is in the same situation and most likely hasn’t been to a conference recently. A lot of trainees have been lacking in the area of networking and social interactions over the last few years, so we’re all a bit rusty.
  • Check the weather for wherever you’re going. Nothing is worse than being uncomfortable in what you’re wearing during a time where you might already be a little stressed. Be sure to check the weather while packing to ensure the elements don’t one-up you.
  • Pack for free time. Also regarding packing for a trip, pack at least one non-business attire outfit for if you have some free time. Speaking from personal experience, you don’t want to be walking a few miles through a garden in your dress clothes while you wait to leave for your flight. Even if you don’t end up using the outfit, you won’t be upset for being over-prepared.
  • Bring a leisure reading book. It’s okay to not be tuned into science for 24-hours a day while you’re at a conference. In fact, it might be better to take a brain break every now and again. Plus, who doesn’t love a good airport read?
  • Don’t feel obligated to do work while there. Remember that you’re at the conference to learn, so you don’t want to miss the opportunity to soak it all in. It’s easy to get caught up in all the PI’s on their laptops – checking emails, writing manuscripts and grants, or scrolling through PubMed. I’m not saying you have to fall off the grid completely, but it’s reasonable to ask to miss a lab meeting or class while attending a conference if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Practice your elevator pitch of your research. Before arriving at the conference, it wouldn’t hurt to do a few quick run-throughs of your elevator pitch so that you have your personal introduction down. A good outline would be [Greeting] + [Your Name] + [Your Position/Title] + [Where you work] + [1 sentence summary of your research].
  • If there is a Slack channel or online platform, use it to network. With hybrid conferences becoming the newest normal, I often find organizers will use Slack or some other platform so that attendees can engage whether in-person or virtual. Use this to your advantage and post in the introductions channel. Feel free to include things like a fun fact about yourself, if you’re currently searching for a new position, or a shameless plug for people to come see your poster/talk. That’s what these platforms are for!
  • Keep track of who you meet and interact with. Often conferences will have a list of attendees and their contact information as a part of the abstract book. Feel free to jot down notes there about who you meet during the conference so you remember when the conference wraps up. For shorter conferences it might not be such an issue to remember people’s names, but for longer conferences it becomes increasingly difficult to remember all of those conversations.
  • Send your invitations to connect in a timely manner. Once the conference concludes, be sure to send your LinkedIn or email invitations to keep in contact with all the new connections you made. The networking aspect of being in-person is definitely richer than what we’ve had access to online, so make the most out of all of your interactions.
  • Take time to recharge your social battery. After a few years of isolation, it’s easy to feel drained more quickly than we used to. Feel free to take some time to yourself if you feel tired or over-stimulated without judging yourself for feeling that way. A few minutes of quiet can be more beneficial than going to that extra workshop or staying out late after dinner.

Using LinkedIn to Create Your Brand and Network

What is LinkedIn and why should you have one?

LinkedIn is a social media site like no other. The site is a virtual platform for professionals to connect, share, learn, and network. At any stage in your career, LinkedIn can be a useful tool and can help you “link” up with professionals in your field, learn about different careers, find jobs, and much more. Think of LinkedIn as your own professional brochure where you can develop your personal brand and showcase your skills and accomplishments. You can use LinkedIn to not only connect with others, but also demonstrate your knowledge, credibility, and expertise. LinkedIn additionally allows key decision makers and recruiters to see your profile for things such as jobs, internships, consulting, and other opportunities. 

Although some early career professionals such as students may be hesitant to make a LinkedIn page, it can be beneficial long term. Using this platform can help you learn about different careers, expand your network, and explore career development opportunities. The LinkedIn user base is large and global. In fact, according to https://kinsta.com/blog/linkedin-statistics/, LinkedIn has over 810 million members from over 200 countries with over 57 million registered companies. Many of these members are actively engaged with the platform with 40% of them accessing it on a daily basis. 

Getting the most out of LinkedIn 

Although everyone’s experience with LinkedIn will be different depending on their careers and goals, there are some simple tips and tricks to get the most out of this platform. First, it’s important to know what you can do with LinkedIn. This includes professional networking, building connections, staying in touch with former colleagues and associates, finding internships or jobs, following companies, exploring careers, getting career advice, joining interest groups, and building/promoting your brand. 

Here are some tips on how to get the most out of LinkedIn. Always make sure to keep your profile professional since you never know who might decide to visit your page. Along these lines, it’s also important to keep your profile complete and up to date even when you aren’t actively job searching. Another way to be more engaged with the site is to post and also engage with other posts that come up on your feed. You can also use LinkedIn groups to explore interests and career opportunities. LinkedIn is overall a great way to connect and chat with other professionals, job search, and do career exploration. 

LinkedIn Premium is also a paid option for those who need more than the what the basic features offer. Although there is a monthly fee, Premium offers in mail, expanded searches, premium search filters, expanded profile views, the ability to see who’s viewed your profile, profile organizer, saved search alerts, reference search, as well as easier introductions and connections. Premium can be a great resource if you are actively job hunting. 

Creating and Building Your Brand with LinkedIn 

Think of your LinkedIn profile as a digital resume. It’s a great way to market yourself and build your individual brand. You should use your profile to highlight your education, skills, accomplishments, involvement, and anything else relevant. There are things you can do to make yourself stand out against the rest. Your profile picture is one of the first things connections or recruiters see. Some tips for a great LinkedIn picture are making sure that it’s clear and high resolution, has only you in it, and is professional. Often a quality shot of your head and shoulders will do the trick. You can also customize your LinkedIn profile URL or do things such as sharing your personal website or blog if you have one. LinkedIn now gives you the ability to upload your CV or resume to the site and to use it for job applications. This can help potential employers or connections get a more complete understanding of your qualifications. 

A final way to enhance your profile is to have skills, endorsements, and recommendations on your page. Sharing skills on your LinkedIn profile is a great way to showcase your abilities to other members. You can have a maximum of 50 skills in a profile, and LinkedIn will automatically sort your skills into different buckets. Once a skill is added, your first-degree connections can validate your skills by endorsing them. Endorsements can strengthen your profile and increase its visibility. It’s important to note that your top three skills are the most visible ones. These are also the most likely to be endorsed since these are the skills that show up for endorsement when you connect with a new person. You can also have recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. A recommendation is a written testimonial that is added to your profile by a connection who took the time to write out why you are a professional worth working with. Once a connection writes you a recommendation, you can accept, dismiss, or ask for a revision of the recommendation. A recommendation is a great addition to your profile and often adds more value than an endorsement.  

Growing your network and connecting with LinkedIn

            You can use LinkedIn to connect with current and colleagues, peers, acquaintances, experts in your field, and others. It’s perfectly okay to connect with someone you don’t know if you are looking to get to know about their career or even just network. Many people are often happy to connect, talk about their career journey, current position, or answer questions. LinkedIn can be a great resource for career exploration and advancement. Networking during the pandemic has been especially hard, and LinkedIn can be a tool to meet new, like-minded people. In general, LinkedIn members are more likely to connect when there is a personal note. One caveat is that LinkedIn limits your introductory message to 300 characters. With this limited space, it’s important to make a strong impression, connect via a common ground, or if possible, connect via a shared connection. Don’t be afraid to reach out and grow your network! You never know what opportunities may happen because of it. 

Upcoming Career Showcase: Medical Science Liaison

Beyond the PhD is excited to welcome Dr. Leia Shuhaibar, a Medical Science Liaison, for our first hybrid career discovery seminar on Tuesday May 17th at 1pm ET. This event will be streamed via Zoom, as with most of our recent events, but we will have the in-person portion on campus at UConn Health in conjunction with the Cell Biology Department. Due to COVID restrictions, in-person attendance is limited to students, faculty, & staff at UConn Health Center only. We apologize for any inconvenience, but look forward to hopefully continuing more inclusive hybrid events in the future as it becomes safe to do so.

Our speaker, Dr. Shuhaibar, is a UConn alumna, having completed her Ph.D. studies at UConn Health in 2015. Under the mentorship of Dr. Laurinda Jaffe, Leia investigated the signaling pathway controlling oocyte meiosis in mouse ovarian follicles. Later, as a Postdoctoral fellow and Assistant Professor, Dr. Shuhaibar investigated clinical applications of reproductive biology research and translated discoveries into developing a new therapy for bone growth disease. She also collaborated with the UConn fertility clinic and worked as an Embryologist in the IVF lab helping infertility patients. For family reasons, Leia and her family moved to Texas where she took a 1-year break, taking care of her children and searching for new career opportunities. In August 2021, Leia started her position at Ferring Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company in reproductive medicine. In this role, she is applying her research, teaching, and embryology experience to support physicians treating infertility patients. Dr. Shuhaibar will be giving a seminar about her career path on Tuesday, May 17th at 1PM ET. Registration for the event is free and is open to anybody interested. To attend the event, you must register using the link below. In-person attendees also must register using the link below and select “In-person Attendance” for your ticket option.

We look forward to seeing you there, whether it be in person or virtual!

Summer Office Hours

This summer, Beyond the PhD is trying something new. We are offering a program called Summer Office Hours. For 4 years, we have offered seminars, networking events, and opportunities for you to build upon your own working documents. So what is the purpose of this program? Well, like many career development groups, we are offering the chance for you all to meet with us one-on-one to go over anything you’d like, whether it be your resume, your CV, your LinkedIn page, etc. Maybe you want to talk to us about career transitions, or ask us about our experience with academia and industry. Wow, so what’s the catch? – it is FREE. Many other programs make you pay for these services. We don’t think that is necessary. We ARE trainees HELPING other trainees. It has been our mission the whole time. So give us a try, sign up below, and if you’re happy, leave us a warm note to tell others what you thought. 

Amanda Rendall: Transitioning into an MSL Role

Do you have a passion for teaching and enjoy finding new ways to effectively communicate scientific ideas to the public? If so, a career as a Medical Science Liason (MSL) may be perfect for you. This past month, Beyond the PhD had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Amanda Rendall, an MSL affiliated with AbbVie pharmaceuticals who specializes in therapeutics designed to treat migraines. One of her primary responsibilities is meeting with headache specialists to discuss the latest therapies and drugs available on the market. Prior to entering the field, she contemplated the idea of becoming a professor after obtaining her Bachelors from Stony Brook University. However, she soon realized there were other avenues she wished to pursue instead. Following graduation, she obtained a position as a postdoc in Data Science, but once again discovered that this was not her true passion. Being newly married and looking to start a family, she was interested in a career that would be both exciting and challenging, but also provide her with some flexibility in terms of scheduling. As luck would have it, a quick google search for “What to do with my PhD” resulted in her discovery of the MSL field. It checked off every box in terms of her desire to teach and  communicate science to others as well as be involved with the dissemination of information that would help clinicians decide on appropriate therapies for treating diseases. According to Amanda, MSLs act as a bridge between healthcare companies and the physicians responsible for treating a particular disease. They can be found in biotech companies as well as pharmaceutical and medical device organizations. Some of Amanda’s main responsibilities as an MSL entail delivering scientific presentations, identifying and training speakers, supporting advisory boards and participating in investigator-led research. She also assists with the coordination of company sponsored research and trials. The thing she loves most about being an MSL is that she is at the forefront of clinical research, where she truly gets to make a difference in the lives of patients. 

For individuals interested in pursuing a career as an MSL, a Postdoc position is not required, however it definitely gives you more credibility in the field. Previous experiences that helped leverage her current position involved participation in outreach and community activities as well as teaching undergraduate and graduate students during her academic career. She also stressed that it is a necessity to have a strong scientific background so that you are able to explain how certain drug therapies affect the body. Amanda also gave some insightful information on what the Interview Process for an MSL looks like. The first stage involves a series of phone screens/video calls with the recruiter/talent acquisition, hiring manager and sometimes other MSLs who serve as directors. The second stage consists of an in person interview, followed by a series of one on ones and the delivery of a presentation. Finally, if offered a position, her best piece of advice is to know your worth. Salary negotiation is key and Glassdoor/MSL surveys can be used as resources to determine how much MSLs within the area are being paid.

One of the difficulties associated with becoming an MSL is that it is a highly competitive field, however, the compensation and benefits are excellent and there are plenty of opportunities to work from home where you can set your own schedule. Although it can be unpredictable at times in terms of when you need to be available for clients and some travel is expected, the work is rewarding and allows you to have a positive impact on treatment selection by clinicians. Some of the helpful tips Amanda provided for breaking into the field include participating in network-informational interview/conferences as well as making sure to keep your resume updated. She also stated that it’s an excellent idea to connect with recruiters on Linkedin that assist with the placement of MSLs in companies such as SEM Bio, TMAC, Syneos, Trinet pharma etc. If you are interested to know more about obtaining a career as an MSL you can contact Amanda at (need her email address).  

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