Informational Interview

Dear Reader,
I am going to briefly describe my planning before the an informational interview.

1. The Hunt
First, I identified law firm in my area, typically using “Biotechnology law firms”, “patent law biotechnology” etc. etc. Then I read over the staff, starting with partners and tried to determine if that partner had a) Finished their PhD before getting a job with the company (bonus points if that person entered law school during that time, indicating evening school), b) done biology related PhD and then if the partner had been a postdoc.
After partners, I would try to identify groups within the company such as Biotechnology Patent group and go through the entire list of associates and find someone that had a similar path to what I want to embark upon.

2. The Contact
To date, I have sent emails that are specifically directed at the person, no general emails! I read general emails like I read spam mail, I don’t! I do not expect to read general emails either.
I start by introducing myself first and state what I am doing and what I want to do.

Dear Mr. Partner,
My name is #insertname and I am a postdoctoral student in #Department at #University. I am looking into ways of using my scientific experience to enter patent law.

Then I describe why I choose this person for advice. The research you have done above (1. The Hunt) comes in handy for this sentence.

I noticed on #FirmsName website that we share a similar background in science and you have successfully made the transfer from the bench to the bar. Thus, I look to you for career advice.

Then I go into a bit more detail what my plans are. I want to try to show the person that I am serious and have put a lot of thought into this career path. You also want to have your path listed because if this person thinks that she would not be able to help you, you can save yourself and this person a lot of time. If that happens, you normally get a negative-positive reply such as: “I am not sure if I can help you but I know a person that might…”

My proposed path is to become a patent agent and ultimately a patent attorney, #InDetail

As for the final sentence, I try to make it a strong salespoint by reassuring this person that I mean business and that this person will not waste his/hers time by meeting me. In addition, I suggest to meet at anytime available and under different scenarios. Finally, do not forget to put the words INFORMATIONAL MEETING, because otherwise the person will be turned off by talking to someone that is going to beg for a job. Remember, this is not a meeting to get a job, this is a meeting to get insight into the position and ways for you to get a job. Again, NOT to get a job.

Thats it really, I am limiting my contacts at the moment due to work but I have had a 100% success rate using this. It is mostly about doing the background research about the people and the company. The last minute preparation for an informational interview is going to be my next post, Informational Interview Part 2.

Thanks for reading and please leave your suggestions in the comments.

Interview Questions

Dear Reader,
I had a job interview last friday. It was a presentation that was done online, with three of the executives of the company. This is a consulting company that is advertising for a PhD in Chemistry, Biology or Biochemistry. I do not consider consulting my favorite cup of tea but everyone needs to work. It will involve a lot of travel, which does not really excite me (nor my wife) and I went into the interview with a certain relaxed feeling. The presentation went smooth, it was mostly for them to see the i can efficiently and clearly explain complex technologies. I thought I did ok, at least enough to advance to the next step.
As a guidance, these were the questions that I was asked:
1. Why are you moving away from research and academia?
2. What kind of work do you think that this position requires?
3. What are the qualities that you think you have that are beneficial for this position?
4. General questions about my resume, such as why I left my previous job (since I left that job to join my current postdoc position, because of the prestige reputation of the university).
I also asked them several questions, just to get a feeling how I would feel about learning from these executives, how they interacted and to find out more about the work that I am expected to do. Also, i asked about the company’s 5-yr plan.
I thought the interview was really dry, no nitty gritty questions and honestly reminded my of hostage negations where neither party actually wanted to spook or frighten the other one.

Also, I am back on my meditation plan and what a difference. I can not even describe how much it is helping me. To thank them back, I will be helping the Ananda community as much as i can by volunteering. If you are stressed, try it out.

Also, the sequester (yes, I am talking about that thing you hear on Fox) is affecting myself badly as well as every scientist in the US. Just got an email from my funding agency stating that due to the sequester, they will not be able to pay out any funding until the issues are resolved. And at the same time, John Kerry gives Egypt $250M? Sorry but Disease > Egypt >Department of Defense airplane.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a good day/evening wherever you are…and whenever actually too.

When your 100% is not enough for someone’s 50%

Dear Co-PI, 

About 5 months ago, you urged me to take another job in another lab. That would mean that I would be working 50% for you and 50% for another person. In a normal job, that would also mean that I would give my 20 hours/week for you and 20 hours/week to the other supervisor. Ok, lets be realistic…it is academia after all-25 hours/week for you. And since you have assigned my to 2 projects, that would mean 25% for each project or again lets say 12 hours/week per project. 

This is how you are failing as a supervisor. a) You want weekly reports every friday and you want to have two meetings every monday, one with the group and then a personal meeting. Since you have absolutely no positive or useful feedback, this is a waste of time for me. Especially since I need to explain to you every week what my projects are actually about. 

b) Last 3 weeks you wanted me to work on project A since there was a deadline for submitting preliminary data this week (tuesday). Today, you tell me that I need to supply you with a weekly report and a progress report for Project B. How is that fair…ok let’s leave justice out. What do you expect the progress to be when a person is shifting between 25% here and there? I wonder if you have ever worked in a laboratory. 

I wonder if you realize how this is affecting your student or staff. Speaking for myself, this makes my feel inadequate, not worth working, cutting my confidence and lastly hating the job that I once loved. I am dreading every email from you because it is like getting a curveball every time. 

As I see it, your job is to be a mentor, to be a guide. You are neither. I can not wait until I get out of your lab. It will be one of my happiest days yet. I sincerely hope that your laboratory runs out of money because you have waisted enough research money and you have destroyed enough souls and their future.

I will not let you take mine so easily, I will not give in and will not make this affect my life outside these bars. 


Another application, another day!


Hi Readers,

Have you ever been so swamped in work but still not working? That’s exactly where I am at now. After i was told that I would possible be let go in june, the only thing that I have been doing is WORKING on FINDING ANOTHER JOB! Is that so weird? I mean, nobody tells a person on death row that he needs to get up and work?! Or do they, I don’t really know but if it would be me, I would say “heeeellll no, I am staying here in my cell, working out and doing everything else than doing whatever you want me to do!” Or else what?!
Anyway, applied for a job today in a law firm that has an opening for a technical advisor/patent agent. I decided to change my approach in terms of the cover letter, wrote a bit upbeat letter, referencing people from the company and their reputation and also mentioning the fact that the company has a ping-pong tournament every year (Thanks Google). I will let you know how it works out. I also added QR codes to the bottom of my cover letter, with my contact info as a vCard and a link to my linkedin profile. That way I might get lucky and notice if someone scans in the linkedin code. Smart right?
Lets hope so!

Your Significant Other

Dear Reader,

Something just occurred to me…while it is easy to feel sorry for myself, doomed in the thought process of the waste of time my Phd has been, how is my wife still living with me!?
Although I try not to let the current work situation affect us, I am probably a bore to hang around with. Thats not cool. So today, I am going to come home and ooze positivity, forget about everything and just give myself and us a brake from it. Jeeez, my poor wifey.
I suggest that even if this is the only thing that is rattling inside that head of yours (just like it is in mine), lets give it a breather when I clock out from work today.

It’s important to stay positive.