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Ellie Giles

Candidates with science degrees have a vast majority of options to choose from when it comes to their careers. Many graduates are often uncertain of what roles will suit them, apprehensive of sales based positions and potentially unaware of the many opportunities available to them. 

Don’t overlook sales roles

Many science companies in the UK are on the lookout for fresh graduates to help promote their business, and sell their products. I have found that many candidates can be put off by the concept of targets/ new business development, and a career in sales is not what they anticipated when selecting their degree. However, scientific sales positions are often one of the most underrated positions in industry. Not only is the annual salary frequently higher than most entry level laboratory jobs, you will still get to use your technical knowledge to full advantage! A common question is if experience is required for such positions. The answer is no! Many clients just want to see evidence that you are a good communicator (dissertation presentations), have worked in a client facing position (retail) or have been in positions of social responsibility… such as a course representative?

Search based on your skillset, as well as your degree type

Matching your degree type to certain opportunities will ensure that your particular academic background won’t go unnoticed. For example, graduates with a neuroscience background would be especially valued by employees selling laboratory equipment to neurological R&D companies. However, understanding your skillset in detail will ensure you find a career you can really thrive in. This can be done by looking at a combination of your work experience, extracurricular activities, what you particularly enjoyed through your university course and the areas of science you are especially passionate about. For example, those who pride themselves on their leadership abilities (shown by perhaps, being the captain of a sports team) could find that they would be comfortable in a Project Manager position. Employers consider CVs based on an applicant’s personal history, as well as their professional background – and so should you!

Job Possibilities

The science industry is a very exciting place to be at the moment, with many companies growing year on year. Recent surges in technology, chemical discoveries and demand for new products has led to a variety of roles for our graduates. For example; those with commercial work experience in a laboratory environment, or even throughout their degree, can now hone in on particular techniques and use them to support new product development. Mass spectrometry, HPLC or DNA sequencing are just some of the methods often used in such processes. If you’d like to take a step away from the lab, knowledge of good manufacturing practice can help you begin a career in regulation. Every lab needs to abide by a set of strict regulations. Office based regulatory consultants and compliance officers have become experts in their fields, earn a good salary and have been able to use their laboratory knowledge in an alternative way. Finally, for those maths gurus, numeracy skills displayed at A level, or through degree choices such as physics or computer science – can often find themselves valued in financial settings. I am often working with companies requiring back room trading assistance – who use their mathematical skills to analyse data and recommend directions for the company.


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