Networking: A conversation with...

Post date: Sep 28, 2012 4:33:41 PM

Joseph Scaduto, Assistant Director of business development at the New York State Center for Biotechnology.

How did he get there? We asked and here’s what we found:

As an undergraduate student at Binghamton University in the late 1990s, he was looking for career alternatives after straying from the pre-medical track – still a common story today. In search of a career plan, Scaduto organized a small cohort of peers who were also struggling, and they proactively identified and interviewed representatives from the human resources departments of life sciences companies to learn more about entry-level positions in industry, and the skills required to attain them.

["Take Initiative: Access campus resources like faculty, staff and the Career Center"]

Now more than a decade later, he is no longer surprised by the importance of hiring managers with “soft skills”, those that involved communications and public speaking, networking, the ability to work within a team, inquisitiveness, and a demonstrable knowledge of the industry in which you want to work.

“It is critically important for undergraduate and graduate students to develop these soft skills as they look to proactively pursue a career,” Scaduto says, “It’s going to be a challenge to find a position in industry if you don’t have soft skills to complement your technical capabilities.”

["Develop Soft Skills: oral/written communication, public speaking, networking, teamwork, and broad industry knowledge"]

Moreover, Scaduto added that it is increasingly difficult to land a job that is posted online, because many of them are filled by candidates the company already knows, either internally or through a trusted referral.

That leads us to the key soft skill—networking

Follow these steps:

1. Educate yourself - learn about industry trends and challenges, subscribe to industry journals, attend or volunteer at trade association events, and research individual companies you are interested in

2. Access your existing network – realize that you know more people than you think, update your profile on LinkedIn, and proactively interact with people you already know in the industry.

3. Expand your network - join relevant networking groups and attend their meetings, identify people who have 5-15 years of experience in jobs you’re interested in, ask for “informational interviews” to learn how they got there, as well as what they like and dislike about their position – be knowledgeable and inquisitive, and be sure to be appreciative and respectful of their time!

4. Cultivate your network - reconnect with new and existing contacts, keeping them abreast of your interests, projects and career trajectory, and always look for ways to add value to their lives. Work to convert key contacts into mentors who will keep you “top of mind” when job opportunities present themselves.

One key point Scaduto addressed is to start building these connections early—no less than 6 months before graduation, but preferably much, much sooner.

Beyond research and development (R&D) in an industrial or academic setting, there are a variety of alternative career options that leverage your technical and soft skills, including:

-Sales and Marketing

-Regulatory Affairs, Quality Assurance and Quality Control

-Intellectual Property and Patent Law

-Business Development and Technology Transfer

-Operations, Manufacturing and Production

-Product Management

“Employers look for job candidates who will clearly add value to their company.”-Joseph Scaduto