Choosing a career after graduation can be a daunting task. I was in the same situation after completing my bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Behavior and later on, again, when completing my master's degree in biomedical engineering. My name is Myriam Belghiti, I am from Morocco and after abandoning the idea of becoming a physician I knew I wanted to work in a medical-related field but did not know where to start. During my masters I also discovered I had an interest in business and finance as it relates to life science. At the time, these topics seemed worlds apart from each other, but after a lot of research, recommendations, and a push from destiny, I realized there are actually many career opportunities that combine both fields. After a first internship in the business development team of a biotech startup, I eventually settled in the role of equity research associate at a life science-focused investment bank.
If you have been studying a topic in the life sciences and/or finance or are generally looking for jobs in the field, you might find yourself wondering which options for internships/jobs in the world of science are out there.
This is a non-exhaustive list of career options that marry an interest in finance/business and life sciences:
My path to my current position has been very difficult and long winded. In school I have always been interested in the sciences. I was first interested in becoming a medical doctor especially given I came from a family of medical doctors. Columbia University, which is the school I attended as an undergraduate, did not offer a pre-med major and recommended we take a science major and complete the requirements for a pre-med (organic chemistry, biology etc) independently. I chose Neuroscience and Behavior because I thought it was the most interesting, complex and where I would learn the most.
After I graduated, I found a position in a research lab in order to help my medical school applications where I was doing some bench work. I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me because the repetitiveness required was not something I enjoyed. Furthermore, I realized that becoming a medical doctor meant you lost a lot of control over where you lived geographically. I moved to the US to live in New York and was not willing to give that up, to go to school/practice somewhere else. Given the dedication the medical doctor’s path required I realized I should probably pivot away from medical school.
During my first job search I quickly realized that the title of engineer was in very high demand. For this reason, I decided to pursue a master’s in biomedical engineering in NYC at Columbia University again. During my masters I took an entrepreneurship class where we learned about the business/finance aspect of biotech and specifically biotech startups. I found myself really enjoying these topics and further pursued opportunities both in the classroom and outside where I could learn more about investing in biotech. After I graduated, I joined a startup in the business development dept where I helped mostly the CFO with his various projects. I then realized I wanted a more structured opportunity and looked for a job in consulting/banking. I applied to every job I could find an opening for whether it be on indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn or directly through company websites. I also contacted anyone in my network who had experience in either banking or consulting and asked if they could share my resume with the recruitment team. The interview process was very long including take home deliverables, multiple rounds of both behavioral and technical interviews cumulating in a super day. I was scheduled for multiple super days (3-4) but this was in the month of May 2020. Suddenly with the insurgence of COVID-19, people were no longer going to the office and the super days got pushed back until eventually recruiting was frozen and the super days were all cancelled one by one. After the months I spent prepping and the many previous interviews I had done to get to that point, I found myself really struggling to overcome this challenge. However, given COVID-19 ignited a spark in biotech and the markets were in an up-trajectory even if the consulting jobs remained frozen, banking eventually started recruiting again. Eventually, I found myself offered an opportunity in equity research at a life sciences focused firm where I could learn more and more about finance and biotech.
I would say to not give up. I had a very tough job search given COVID hit during my final rounds at various firms which meant hiring was frozen. I had dedicated a lot of time and effort to get to these final rounds and I started to lose hope. But I think it is important to remember that it only takes one yes for you to have a job.
I hope that my words have helped you understand that if you feel drawn to more than one field, there are jobs that incorportate more than one interest. I also hope you recognized that one internship or one job is not going to define your career and that pivoting and learning what you like and don’t like is simply a part of the process. I also think ,finally, that it is important to use these experiences to learn what you like or don’t like . Sometimes it takes experiencing something yourself to truly understand how you feel about it.