Top tips for a successful transition from academia to industry

Are you coming to the end of your PhD or post-doc? Are you considering a transition from academia into industry? Here are our top 10 tips that came out of the NextGen Life Sciences Supper Club to help you get started.

Take responsibility for your career

It may sound obvious but no one will progress your career for you if you don’t have the desire to do it yourself. If you want a change of direction in your career, don’t be afraid to take the right steps to make sure it happens. Be proactive and seize every single opportunity for career progression.

Recognise the importance of training

A career in industry may require additional skills that aren’t currently on your CV. Training schemes are a great way of gaining that experience and demonstrating a desire to learn and develop. Many institutions now run internal training programmes as do learned societies. The Academy also offers an array of career development events so there’s plenty of resources out there for you!

Networking, networking, networking

You either love it or you hate it but there’s no denying that networking is a great way to make contacts that can further your career. LinkedIn is a great networking website to start growing your network of contacts and increasing your visibility. It’s also a great way to stay up to date with companies’ latest news and job vacancies. However, don’t shy away from networking in person at meetings or conferences – physical meetings can make longer-lasting impressions on people than an impersonal email.  

Teamwork is highly valued

Being able to work in a team and take projects forward rapidly is essential in industry. Experience of team and collaborative work always stands out on a CV, even if it is not in a laboratory or work setting. You’ll be surprised at how many situations require these types of skills and you shouldn’t have to look too far to find opportunities to gain these skills if required.  

“Know thyself”

In order to identify gaps in your experience, it is helpful to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Whilst it is important to seek out those opportunities that highlight your strengths, it is even more important to develop your weaker areas. You may find that tests such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Belbin Team Roles, if you get the opportunity to undertake them, are useful and will help you with those all important team skills.  

Listen to your peers

Friends, colleagues (both junior and senior) and managers are a great source of advice and may have had interesting career pathways themselves. Be careful not to be unduly influenced though, personal experiences may be tarnished by unfortunate situations that may not apply to you.

Have a plan

It is definitely worth thinking about a career plan to ensure you are making the right career moves to get where you want to be. Your career plan could also outline “back up” plans, in case certain career moves don’t quite pan out.  

Do your homework

Again, it may sound obvious but when you are applying for a job or going for an interview, make sure you do your research into the company and the job you are applying for. Knowledge of the company comes across really well in applications and demonstrates a keen interest.

Don’t hesitate

Don’t worry too much if you don’t meet all the criteria set out in a job application. Providing you have some of the most relevant skills, employers are looking for potential, intelligence, character, enthusiasm, motivation and how a new member may integrate into their team.

Be brave!

Sometimes leaving an environment you are familiar with requires a little bravery. Don’t be afraid to take the leap or upset your colleagues by making the transition into industry. If this is something you are seriously considering, you shouldn’t be put off by the unknown. Once you have set up your career plan, stick to your guns and go for it. View it as a whole new adventure!

Find out more about careers in industry discussed at a Supper Club on skills industry needs today to build for tomorrow.

Find out more about the Academy’s careers activities.

Find out more about the Academy’s work around linking academia, industry and the NHS.

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