On Thursday, November 7th of 2019, the O’Brien Center for Career Development in conjunction with the School of Science & Engineering hosted its first ever Careers in Life Sciences Alumni Panel and Networking Reception at Merrimack College. The event encouraged all interested students to attend and take part in the opportunity to receive crucial career advice from notable Merrimack alumni panelists and reception attendees. The panel received full attendance of ardent students from all class years anticipating an insightful question and answer session with panelists Gabby Angelini ‘14, Research Associate at the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, Ethan Childs ‘17, Research Associate at Charles River Laboratories, and Havaria Haseeb ‘14, Associate Scientist at Pfizer.
Each of the panelists offered a unique perspective to the set of questions prepared for the event, as all alumni ventured into distinct career paths in their respective fields in science. Panelist Gabby Angelini provided reassurance for students who still feel uncertain of a career path post-graduation, and shared her own career ambivalence as an undergraduate student. “Biology was something I always loved and was interested in, but I didn’t always know what I actually wanted to do with that,” Angelini revealed. “It wasn’t until I started doing research in my junior year and really fell in love with it, and I had my internship with Pfizer, that I started to figure out what I wanted to do.” Angelini stressed the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity possible, even if it may not initially seem like a student’s first choice for a career. “Falling into all of these opportunities and experiences is what helps you to learn what you like to do and what you don’t like to do,” Angelini conveys, “and sometimes, you learn that what you thought you wouldn’t like to do turns out to be your new favorite thing. You’ll never know unless you just go for it.”
Ethan Childs also offered valuable insight to students regarding the development of a career in science. Reflecting upon his own undergraduate experience, Childs offered advice to students that he would have given himself prior to graduation. Childs highly recommended students utilize the various resources on-campus to advance their careers and prepare for the realities of the working world. Childs chuckled as he admitted, “I still use the O’Brien Center’s resume and cover letter templates sometimes, so I think that’s a great first-start to advancing your career. I also think while you’re right here, right now, you can and should practice interviewing and being in that position. [Interviewing] can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be, because that’s something you can start practicing for now.” Childs additionally revealed the realities of first navigating the job-hunting process, and stressed the importance of students to apply for as many positions that interest them as early as possible. “It can be tough when you send out resume after resume, and you don’t hear anything back,” Childs recalls. “Sometimes, that’s just the reality of it. But, the more you keep applying and the more you get your resume out there, the more opportunities you can create for yourself.”
Associate Scientist at Pfizer, Javaria Haseeb, further supplied essential advice regarding the working world and the realities of a career in science. She apprised students of the competitive nature of the working world, and assured students that not receiving a position immediately after graduation is perfectly normal. Haseeb encouraged students to promote their chances of getting hired by seeking out recruiters rather than shying away from them, and additionally revealed the key aspect employers look for when interviewing candidates and reviewing resumes. “It’s really important to show on your resume that you can communicate well and that you show how you interact with people,” Haseeb stresses. “If you volunteer and are involved in a lot of different communities, I highly encourage you to put that on your resume, because believe it or not, employers do look at that to try and get an idea of what your social skills and personality are like.”
As the panel concluded, all students and alumni were invited to join the Networking Reception for refreshments and the opportunity for one-on-one discussions regarding career development. As the reception commenced, the O’Brien Center for Career Development caught up with Biology major John Cobb, Class of 2020, to inquire about his impression of the first inaugural Careers in Life Sciences event. “I think this is an event the O’Brien Center should definitely continue in the future,” Cobb expressed. “It’s very valuable to help students learn about different career paths and connect with alumni who really care about the success of students at Merrimack. It was also really beneficial for students looking for insight on whether or not they should pursue their Masters or PhD.”
The Careers in Life Sciences Alumni Panel and Networking Reception presents students with a vital opportunity to learn about the possible career paths in life sciences and the realities of the working world from a variety of successful Merrimack alumni. If you missed out on the chance to attend this highly-anticipated career event, ensure that you don’t miss out on other upcoming events on-campus to aid in the development of your career and network – see the full list of opportunities here!
Written By: Kerry Reynolds, Class of 2021