Pharma, Biotech and Medical Device Careers
The biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries both produce medicines, but the medicines made by biotechnology companies are derived from living organisms while those made by pharmaceutical companies generally have a chemical basis. Furthermore, biotechnology provides products and technologies to combat debilitating and rare diseases, reduce our environmental footprint, feed the hungry, use less and cleaner energy, and have safer, cleaner and more efficient industrial manufacturing processes. (Adapted from Biotechnology Industry Organization.)
Meanwhile, the medical devices industry consists of articles, instruments, apparatuses, or machines that are used in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness or disease, or for detecting, measuring, restoring, correcting, or modifying the structure or function of the body for some health purpose, per Wikipedia.
To discover more about the different career paths available in these industries, check out Careers in BioTech (including useful videos about careers in biotech), NewScientist: A Day in the Life Of, 25 Careers in Biotechnology To Explore (With Salaries), and Bio-Tech Crossing’s list of careers in biotechnology for nonscientists.
Read trade magazines, newsletters, and popular websites in your industry area. Places to start include BiotechNOW, BioSpace and FierceBiotech. Subscribe to blogs and newsletters, follow industry insiders on social media, and research the types of positions that are available in those fields. Company websites, O*NET, and the Occupational Outlook Handbook are equally helpful resources. You must show not only an interest, but also knowledge about the industry.
- Vault Guides (sign up for free with your Georgetown email address) have comprehensive information on various careers, including Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Jobs, and Medical Equipment Manufacturing Jobs.
- Check out our YouTube playlist with recordings from Georgetown alumni working in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industry.
- Take this free career assessment by Science Careers to examine where your skills, interests, and values fit in this industry.
- Jobs in Demand: Top 10 biotech jobs, The 10 Biotech Jobs Most in Demand Through 2024
Attend employer information sessions, industry events – on and off-campus, and connect with popular professional organizations regionally and nationally. The most relevant professional associations in biotech and pharmaceuticals include American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), and the Harvard Biotech Club (for those interested in pursuing a PhD). Local professional associations include the Maryland Tech Council (see events and conferences) and Virginia Bio. Professional associations host a variety of professional development, educational, and networking events. If the cost of membership is prohibitive, contact leadership and ask if there are discounted prices for students. Volunteering for a conference, educational, or social event is another great way to connect with leaders in the industry.
Another way to make connections and potentially find employment is to search NIH databases to learn where research is being conducted around the world. The NIH’s clinical trial website and NIH RePORTER can help you identify privately and publicly funded clinical trials by various factors, including location, study area, and more.
Joining groups on LinkedIn related to your industry is a great way to meet new people, find mentors, contacts, and ask questions. Also, reach out to alumni through Hoya Gateway and Georgetown’s alumni page on LinkedIn. Our website provides helpful guidelines on networking and informational interviewing.
Making Connections at Georgetown
Georgetown offers a number of opportunities for Hoyas to get involved. Joining a school club is an excellent way to learn more about the industry, develop your skills, and get hands-on experience. The Center for Social Justice offers a variety of programs, including DC STEM, which provides STEM tutoring, project-based engagement, field trips, college and career programming, and connections with GU STEM faculty and programs. Get connected with PharmedOut, a GUMC project that promotes evidence-based prescribing and educates health care professionals about pharmaceutical and medical device marketing practices.
Increase your research skills by joining a lab around campus. The Center for Research and Fellowships offers the Georgetown Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (GUROP). Participate in research and get published in the peer-reviewed Georgetown University Journal of Health Sciences. You can also participate in a group based on a personal interest and develop your professional skills. For example, develop business or communications skills for a student group that interests you. For more student club information, visit Campus Groups. On and off-campus jobs are another excellent way to build skills valued by employers.
To better understand what skills you need to highlight on your resume, check out internships, fellowships, and entry level positions in these industries. BioSpace has numerous articles providing advice on writing resumes and cover letters, job search strategies, and interviewing, specific to the life science profession. See our resume and cover letter pages for more tips and advice.
- Biopharmguy provides a list of biotech employers by location and type of business, and Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) allows you to search employers, including biopharmaceutical research companies, in all states. A list of medical device companies can be found with the Medical Device Manufacturers Association.
- Government: Center for Disease Control | National Institutes of Health | Food and Drug Administration | National Center for Health Statistics
- For-Profit: Abbott Laboratories | Amgen | Celgene | Eli Lilly | Genentech | Gilead Sciences | Johnson & Johnson | Merck | Novo Nordisk | Pfizer | Schering-Plough
- Nonprofit: 37 related nonprofits