Starting a career in life sciences can be an incredibly rewarding and exciting endeavour in your life because it offers an opportunity to make a positive impact on the world through innovation and research on plant and animal life.
Diverse Sub-Sectors and Job Opportunities in the Life Sciences Industry
The life sciences industry includes all the organisations and companies whose focus is on research and development of living things, such as plants, animals and human beings. There are many sub-sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, agricultural science, animal science, fine chemicals and API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) manufacturing, bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics and synthetic biology.
In the above sub-sectors, the job roles available include process engineers, biotechnologists, biochemists, microbiologists, industrial pharmacists, computational biologists, QA (quality assurance) specialists, clinical researchers, research scientists, laboratory technologists and epidemiologists. Identify your passion and plan to specialise in your area of interest before you embark on the next step – building a strong educational foundation.
How to Kickstart a Career in the Life Science industry
1) Build a Strong Educational Foundation in Life Sciences
It is necessary to build a strong educational foundation in life sciences if you intend to start a career in this industry. Whether it is to pursue a diploma or a bachelor’s degree in life sciences, you will need to have a solid background in the sciences, such as biology and chemistry as a prerequisite.
You can also choose to advance your research in your specialised field to study new, innovative processes, expand your knowledge and contribute further to the industry with a graduate degree, such as a master’s degree or a PhD, in life sciences or a specific field of life sciences like biotechnology.
Also, many employers prefer well-rounded candidates with analytical, research and communication skills, so you may want to consider taking other courses that will be beneficial to your career advancement, such as laboratory, analytical, literacy and research skills.
2) Get the Relevant Experience
You can get some experience in the life sciences industry before your studies, during your studies, or after you have obtained your certification. The best way for you to do so is through internships, co-op programmes or research experience, which can provide you with valuable skills and knowledge needed to shine in your life sciences career in future.
Many graduate and undergraduate programmes offer opportunities for students to obtain hands-on experiences. For example, at PSB Academy, students can join its laboratory experience programme, where they can assist with the preparation of cells and materials to be used in classes. They are also encouraged to undertake internships in pharmaceutical companies while undergoing their studies at the same time.
It is advantageous for you to gain experience in a variety of settings, such as a biotechnology company, a hospital, a research laboratory and/or even in life-sciences-related publications and media. Such exposure will give you a teaser of what a future career in life sciences will look like and prepare you for it.
3) Network with Industry Peers
Networking with relevant industry peers in the life sciences industry will help you showcase your skills and knowledge, learn more about the industry and increase the chances of receiving job opportunities, internships and research projects.
You can network by attending scientific conferences and meetings, joining relevant forums, professional organisations, and social networking sites like LinkedIn, and connecting with other like-minded professionals in the same industry. After graduation, you can also leverage your alumni network to join their events and activities and connect with your ex-classmates.
As an undergraduate, you will have the opportunity to join student chapters, such as the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) or Parenteral Drug Association (PDA). Such organisations are usually chaired by experienced veterans and/or top management from the life sciences industry and regularly organise events to facilitate interactions between industry professionals, students and academia.
Joining such organisations can provide you with not only an opportunity to expand your professional networks, but also valuable updates on new industry research and publications, which are important in an industry that is constantly evolving.
Kick-start your Life Science Journey with PSB Academy
PSB Academy frequently invites industry personnel to be guest speakers at the school so that its students are kept up-to-date about industry happenings and the latest technologies.
For a head-start in the life sciences industry, you can choose to study Foundation Diploma in Life Sciences at PSB Academy. If you already have a relevant diploma or A-level qualifications, you can directly enrol for one of the undergraduate courses from its partner university, La Trobe University – Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Bachelor of Science (Molecular Biology and Biotechology), Bachelor of Science (Molecular Biology and Applied Chemistry) or Bachelor of Science (Molecular Biology and Pharmaceutical Science).
Ultimately, the actual steps you take to start a career in life sciences depend on your interests and goals. With hard work and dedication, you can surely turn your passion for life sciences into a fulfilling, long-term career.