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079: The Insider’s Guide to Industry – with Randall Ribaudo, PhD

If you’re an academic scientist, applying for an industry job is a bit like traveling to a foreign country.

First, there is paperwork.

Will they accept your Curriculum Vitae as is, or do you need to crunch it down into a résumé? And how on earth do you get through the screening software that filters through the 1000+ applications?

Next, there’s the language barrier.

You’ll need to communicate your qualifications in an interview that may last just a few minutes.  You might describe a key experiment you designed with six controls and twelve replicates, but what the interviewer needs to hear is that you have experience in ‘quality control and quality assurance.’ Don’t expect them to make the translation.

Last, there can be culture shock when you actually get the job and start to work. There are aspects of your academic training that you will need to un-learn if you want to be successful. You can either begin the job with a sensitivity to these new cultural norms, or you can learn them the hard way…

This week, we talk with a scientist who acts as travel guide for academics who want to make the leap into industry.

“Scientists are leaders…”

Randall Ribaudo has experience on both sides of the bench.  A PhD immunologist, Dr. Ribaudo began his career as an academic scientist and PI at the National Cancer Institute.  Through connections he made as a researcher, he went on to a series of industry jobs, including five years at Celera Genomics where he wore many hats from academic liaison to product manager.

His unique experiences in both academia and industry led him to his current role at SciPhD, and his insights could make your own transition easier.

In our interview, Dr. Ribaudo answered some of the burning questions that may be on YOUR mind:

  • How are industry labs different from my university lab? Will I like that work style?
  • How do I write a resume that will get noticed?
  • Every job listing seems to require three years of prior experience. How am I supposed to get that if they won’t hire me?
  • I already know I want to work in industry – what can I do as a grad student or postdoc to get myself ready?

Even if you’re on the tenure track, you’ll want to listen closely to Dr. Ribaudo’s advice for improving academic labs. His industry experience with team building, project management, and strategic planning have direct parallels in the university laboratory.

For more insights, you can check out a handful of free videos from SciPhD or see if one of the Onsite Training Programs is available in your area.  You can also reach Dr. Ribaudo directly via the website or on Twitter @SciPhD.


For more episodes on building better teams in the lab, check out:

056: Team Up for Speedier Science

077: Google discovers five keys to a productive lab

The Early Squirrel Gets The Bean

Hey – remember the GRE?  Sadly, so do we.

But this week, Josh shares some good news about two major universities that have dropped their GRE requirement.  Both the Michigan Program in Biomedical Science and Berkeley Molecular Cell Biology have announced that they will no longer require GRE test scores for their applicants.

You can read the Michigan town hall debate white papers to see if you agree.

Since we had to record this episode early in the morning, we took an ethanol hiatus and sipped a Chemex pour-over of Suite C House Blend coffee from the Gray Squirrel Coffee Co. in Carrboro, NC.

Pour-over is a bit more work than just pushing a button, but it tastes so good.  If only someone would invent some kind of ‘automated coffee making device’ that could drip hot water over coffee grounds for us.  That’d be amazing!

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