STEM careers: why it pays to think outside the lab
What careers lie ahead for a science graduate? Most people would assume a job in research, wearing lab coats and safety goggles all day. But this could not be more different for me. Since graduating from the University of St Andrews with a Masters in Chemistry, I haven’t stepped back into the lab once. That’s not to say a job in research isn’t a good path, it just wasn’t the one for me. So, when I was contacted by my college chemistry teacher to give a talk to current students about careers in STEM, I jumped at the opportunity to shine a light on the opportunities outside of the lab environment.
The new normal meant that I had to give my talk online rather than in person, and as the Zoom call started to fill up with unfamiliar faces, my nerves started to creep in. But as I began to talk about my time at university and my career in science so far, those feelings faded. It’s easy to talk about your experiences when they have been so positive and fulfilling. We talked about writing personal statements to get into university, top tips for completing a science degree, and maybe most importantly, not to worry about not knowing what you want to do in the future. How are you supposed to know what career you want to be in when you’ve never heard of most of the opportunities open to you?
Coming to the end of university, I knew I didn’t want to go into academic or industry research, the constant uncertainty and competitive environment was not for me. So, I started to look for alternative options that allowed me to continue to learn about the latest developments in science, but without doing the experiments myself. I soon found a job at a publishing company, for a medical journal. Everyday, I was reading about the newest science and had my first experience in editing materials, predominantly written by non-native English speakers. However, these articles were only read and used by the scientific community, and I knew I wanted my work to have a more far-reaching impact than that. This is when the world of medical communications became apparent to me. After some time searching, I found an editorial role with Cuttsy+Cuttsy and the rest was history.
In my current role, I have the opportunity to contribute to clinical trial support materials in a variety of disease areas, work on animations to help explain drug mode-of-actions, through to helping good causes as part of Cuttsy+Cuttsy’s own charitable programme, Cuttsy Cares. Every day really is very different and although I love the diversity of my work, the most rewarding part is seeing the projects come to life and the positive impact they have on everyday people.
I love my job and I hope I helped to inspire the students to think outside the lab when pursuing a career in STEM.
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