Fellow presentation and intro to your career path
Hi! My name is Aditya Goel. I was born and brought up in Mumbai, India. I moved to the United States to complete my last two years of high school in CT and then pursued my undergrad at the University of California Berkeley. Inspired by my father who is a physician, I built an interest in medicine. As a dedicated pre-medical student, I graduated with a major in Molecular and Cell Biology and minored in Bioengineering.
During my undergrad, I completed all the requirements to be a successful medical applicant (e.g., necessary coursework, volunteering and clinical experience, MCAT etc.) and decided to take a few gap years post graduating before applying to medical school. I thought it would be helpful to explore other opportunities in healthcare prior to committing to medicine.
After graduating, I worked at ClearView Healthcare Partners, a boutique life sciences consulting firm. There, I consulted for biopharma companies, supporting product, franchise, and corporate-level growth strategy. I really enjoyed working in the drug development space as it perfectly blended my interest in business and science. Thus, I decided to pivot away from my path in medicine.
At ClearView, I developed in depth insight into the biopharma landscape. However, I wanted to be more actionable in supporting the development of drugs (beyond being a consultant), so I sought a role as a healthcare investment analyst at a hedge fund in Boston. I have been working at this hedge fund for the past 2 years, investing in late-stage biotech and pharmaceutical companies to provide them with the necessary financing to successfully bring a drug to market. I have really enjoyed being an investor and want to explore additional opportunities in the investment landscape.
As a next step, I will be pursuing my MBA at the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania). I am excited to broaden my network over the next two years and explore how I can have a lasting impact as an investor in healthcare.
Molecular Biology career options
While people may believe that Molecular Biology majors are destined to be either scientists or physicians, that is a fallacy! Molecular Biology majors are well suited for a range of different career paths, few of which I have listed below:
- R&D Scientist in Biopharma
You can work on the lab floor at a biotech or pharma company, studying a range of different drug candidates to identify promising ones. Usually, it is recommended that you pursue a PhD to succeed in such a role. It will help you succeed in the long run, especially as you advance to later stages of your career.
- Healthcare Consulting
Several boutique life sciences firms specifically look for biology-background students to be consultants to healthcare companies (including life sciences companies). A lot of the work includes conducting scientific diligence (so understanding HOW a drug works), thus people without a biology background will not be able to perform well.
Not all healthcare consulting firms are the same! They focus on different industries (e.g., hospital systems/administration, biotech/life sciences, digital health/healthcare IT) so choose your field of interest wisely.
If your firm is catered towards life science, uour role would include supporting the product-level or franchise-level strategy of a biotech company (e.g., identify promising disease targets, novel drug platforms, etc.)
You do not need any advanced degree to succeed in consulting, although often you will see several MBA grads entering this field.
- Healthcare Investing
You will be in charge of conducting in depth due diligence on healthcare companies (including life sciences companies). You will build robust investment thesis to support or refute an investment in a select company. It is important to be able to build financial models to succeed in such a role. You will work closely with a portfolio manager who will rely on your advice to make investment decisions.
There are different fields of interesting depending on your interests: VC, PE, Public Equity trading, Debt/royalty financing
For VC and PE related roles, it is recommended (though not necessary) that you get an MBA.
- Physician / Physician Assistant / Nursing / Dentistry
You will work closely with patients in a hands-on manner, to help them with any difficulty they are facing.
You will require advanced education in the field of your choosing (MD, DMD, OD, etc.)
- Business/Corporate Development in Biopharma
You can pursue an internal role in a biopharma company wherein you will provide analysis for evaluating new business opportunities such as in/out licensing, collaborative research and development agreements, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions.
You do not need an advanced degree to pursue this career, though prior experience in consulting is helpful.
- Academic researcher
This is a great option if you want to continue your education and conduct research in a university setting. You could work on a variety of projects, from basic research to applied research.
You will likely need a PhD to progress in this role. In a university setting, you will also take upon additional teaching responsibilities.
Main hard skills you use on daily basis in your current job
- Financial modeling
I use Excel to build models that project the future financial performance of biotech and pharma companies. This helps me to assess the risk and potential return of investment opportunities. I initially learned financial modeling in my role as a consultant at ClearView, and I have continued to develop my skills through on-the-job training and online courses.
- Scientific diligence
I conduct in-depth scientific research on biotech and pharma companies. This involves understanding the company's scientific research, its pipeline of products, and the competitive landscape. I learned the fundamentals of scientific diligence in my undergraduate degree in molecular biology, and I have continued to develop my skills through on-the-job training.
- Data analysis
I use Excel to analyze data on biotech and pharma companies (e.g., scripts data). This helps me to identify trends, patterns, and insights that can inform my investment decisions. I learned the fundamentals of data analysis in my undergraduate coursework in statistics.
Soft skills you use on daily basis in your current job
I communicate effectively with a variety of stakeholders, including physicians/scientists, investors, and managment teams of comapnies. I am able to clearly and concisely explain complex scientific concepts and financial models to the investment committee. I have learned to communicate effectively through a lot of trial and error, and my role in consulting was key to my success. Good communication is an essential skill irrespective of what field you end up in. For example, I put my communication skills into practice in meetings, presentations, and written reports – things that you are likely to do in any entry level position.
I am able to identify and solve complex problems. I am able to think critically and creatively to find solutions, especially when I may not have all the data needed to make an investment thesis. It is important to learn to problem-solve as it is extremely common to not have all the data you need to perform an analysis. Managers often want you to take a stab at overcoming hurdles rather than just going to them directly for help. It will help you tremendously, especially when it is time for promotions!
I am able to work effectively with others. I am able to collaborate with others to achieve common goals. I have learned to work effectively in teams through my undergrad coursework and working as a consultant. Effective teamwork is essential to improving both efficiency and the quality of the deliverables you are creating.
Your personal path
I graduated with a degree in Molecular Biology in 2019, and I started looking for jobs in the healthcare industry right away. I applied for 15+ jobs in various verticals (e.g., product manager, consulting, scientist, bioinformatics, etc) because I did not know what I wanted to do beyond medicine. I felt a lot of different emotions during that time, including excitement, anxiety, and frustration. I was excited about the prospect of starting my career, but I was also anxious about the competition and the possibility of not finding a job. I was also frustrated by the number of rejections I received.
Opportunities showed up for me in a variety of ways. I found some jobs through online school job boards, but I also found some through networking. I attended industry events and met with people who worked in the consulting industry. I also reached out to former classmates and professors who might know of job openings. I ended up receiving 4 offers from competing life sciences consulting firms, and was excited to select ClearView for my first role.
My most recent job search was for a healthcare investment analyst position. That was a much more targeted search since I knew what I was looking for. I applied for the job through LinkedIn, and I was invited to interview. The interview process was fairly standard. I had a phone interview with a recruiter, followed by several interviews with various members of the trading team. The interview questions were mostly about my experience in biotech, my skills (e.g., modeling), and my interest in the company. I was offered the job a few weeks after the last round interview.
I think it's important for students to understand that no one lands their dream job at once, especially if you are not certain of what you want to do (like I was near graduation). It takes time and effort to find a job that you're happy with. Keep applying for jobs and dont be afraid to explore different industries. Eventually you'll find one that's a good fit for you.
What would you tell your younger you regarding building your current career?
Don’t get too fixated on one path. It is easy to have tunnel vision. Challenge yourself to explore what else is out there as the opportunities open to you are truly limitless. It is completely okay to pivot away from one path, if that means you are pursuing another path that is a better fit for you. Even of you need to take a step back (e.g., take an entry level position) when changing career paths, it is worth it in the long run.
Remember, your 20s is the best time to take risks. Do not worry too much about financial gain just yet. You are much more likely to succeed financially in the long run if you choose a career path that is of true interest to you. I have already pivoted 3 times (doctor -> consultant -> investor) and with each pivot, I feel like I have moved closer to my “calling”.
Final tips and insights
There are a lot of opportunities out there for a Molecular Biology major, many that I may not even be aware of. It is important to continue having conversations with your mentors, colleagues, friends to explore the true breadth of opportunities open to you. Remain flexible through your professional journey and remember that it is okay to pivot! Don’t just assume doors are closed for you because you do not come from a “traditional” background. You would be surprised to see how many firms out there prefer people from unique backgrounds rather than “cookie-cutter” applicants.
Here are some tips for students who are looking for jobs:
- Network with people in your field. Attend industry events, connect with professionals on LinkedIn, or reach out to professors or former classmates who are working in your field.
- Do your research. Learn about the different companies and positions that are available.
- Tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for. Make sure that your resume highlights your skills and experience that are relevant to the job.
- Practice your interviewing skills. The more you practice, the more confident you'll feel during your interviews.
- Don't give up. The job search can be tough, but don't give up. Keep applying for jobs, and eventually you'll find one that's a good fit for you.