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Academia versus Biopharma industry thoughts and feelings…

Hi Friends,

Its been 4 weeks since I started my journey away from academia and into Bio-pharmaceutical industry. I have to say that these four weeks have been the most confusing, exciting, busy and tiring all at the same time.

I loved working in academia and was used to it, having worked in the lab since the age of 19. At one time I convinced myself, for some reason, that I was better off staying in academia than moving into industry. My perceptions of what it was like to work in industry while on some level were correct but mostly turned out to be wrong.

Here are some of beliefs that I strongly believed in while working in academia in regards to industry:

Belief No. 1: I believed that one of the best things in academia was the freedom that you have to come and go as you please, which is very good for family life.

At the same time I believed that in Industry I would have no chance to breath and that I would not be able to dedicate as much time to my kids as academia allowed me to as I would have to do certain hours every day and would not be able to get out of work if I need to.

Well, I was completely wrong. What I learned in the last month in industry is that it allows for as much freedom as I had in academia if not more time-wise. Yes, you do have to do your contractual hours every two weeks (we are paid fortnightly), but you have flexi-time, which means that you have to be on site from 10 am to 4 pm. Outside of those specific hours you can come in and leave at whatever time you need to. No one is going to look at you and ask you why you are so late. Also if you do two more hours in a day than you are supposed to, you get either time-in-lieu or overtime, your choice. For now, I am taking time in lieu as I am aware that one of these days I will have to stay at home with kids and can use that then. So there are no guilty feelings when I leave at four on some days as I know that I am putting in longer hours on other days and will make up the difference and can get to my kids on time and actually have some time with them. This is really useful for us as my hubby works shift work and so some days he minds the kids so I do not have to hurry home to pick them up.

Belief No.2: People in industry are given one task and the job becomes boring after a while as there is not stimulation with variety of tasks.

Also wrong. In the position that I am in right now, I am doing something new every single day. I am constantly learning and trying new tasks, the work varies from presentations, to lab work, to writing documents, etc. and if eventually, when I get to grips with everything, I can also do additional courses to develop my personal skills. There are plenty of opportunities for personal development if you want it, this would also be looked at and you will be able to apply your new skills within the company at some point.

Belief No. 3: It would be too hard to constrict myself to do things within limits as I am too used to thinking and solving problems on my own, while in industry you have to do things the way you are told to do.

That also turned out to be wrong. Since I started getting more responsibilities In my new job, I am constantly troubleshooting, talking to people, trying to find solutions. I am definitely using my problem solving skills to my full capacity.

The people that I work with are lovely, everyone is a team-player, if you have a question, they will always be answered. Of course there are certain challenges that I still have to overcome such as understanding the jargon and abbreviations (I am getting better at that), knowing where to find necessary information (this will come with time) and knowing who to ask (also will take time). But I am happy because for the last month I came home content that I was doing sometime worthwhile and was being appreciated for what I can do rather than who I am (a mom who has her kids as a priority).

There are many other beliefs that went bust when I started working in industry and I will address them in another blog. For now what I can tell you that I have absolutely no regrets about moving to industry and am starting to wonder why did it take me so long to realize that this is something that I would enjoy doing. I see myself progressing in this job and am really looking forward to my future within this company.

I hope you all have a lovely day xxx

Photo taken by Babybluerascal
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