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DO A POSTDOC OR CHANGE TO AN MSL JOB WHEN YOU LOVE THE SCIENCE - 14/04/2017

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Yesterday I spoke to a candidate. She was thinking of doing a postdoc, as she loves science. I asked her, “What do you think you will learn that you don’t already know?” A long silence! “Probably learn more of the same”, she said. “Exactly”, I said! Digging a bit deeper, she said “I really like to have an impact on patients’ lives, and as a scientist, the chances are very slim you will ever have that impact.” We then moved to what impact the Medical Science Liaison (MSL) has on patients’ lives. And I can honestly say that the... Show More

Yesterday I spoke to a candidate. She was thinking of doing a postdoc, as she loves science. I asked her, “What do you think you will learn that you don’t already know?” A long silence! “Probably learn more of the same”, she said. “Exactly”, I said! Digging a bit deeper, she said “I really like to have an impact on patients’ lives, and as a scientist, the chances are very slim you will ever have that impact.” We then moved to what impact the Medical Science Liaison (MSL) has on patients’ lives. And I can honestly say that the MSL job is the closest you will ever you get to having a major impact on patients’ lives without having a Medical degree AND still be close to the science you love.

Click here to join us for our free MSL webinar on “How to become an MSL without industry experience?

 

YOU EITHER WIN OR YOU LEARN - 14/04/2017

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You either win or you learn.
Last week I listened to a podcast were they said “You either win or you learn”. This reminded me of a candidate, who from day one I knew he would make an excellent MSL. He just had it in him! Almost all the recruiters and pharma companies ignored him, however. He actively approached almost everyone on LinkedIn from recruiter, to MSL to hiring managers and from every email/phone chat/interview he came back not losing, but learning and it made him more determined to get his MSL job. And he did. We connected him with his current employer and he is ... Show More

You either win or you learn.
Last week I listened to a podcast were they said “You either win or you learn”. This reminded me of a candidate, who from day one I knew he would make an excellent MSL. He just had it in him! Almost all the recruiters and pharma companies ignored him, however. He actively approached almost everyone on LinkedIn from recruiter, to MSL to hiring managers and from every email/phone chat/interview he came back not losing, but learning and it made him more determined to get his MSL job. And he did. We connected him with his current employer and he is acing his job.

You might not win, but you will always learn.

Join our free MSL webinar on how to become an MSL here

ANOTHER ONE OF OUR CANDIDATE HAS BECOME AN MSL - TRACEY QUINN - 14/04/2017

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We would like to congratulate another candidate trained and coached by us - Tracey Quinn PhD – in getting her first MSL job in Neurology at Merck KGaA. Tracey, It was great to see you at work yesterday after having been coaching you this year. It was even better to see your big smile and excitement of being an MSL now. We look forward to seeing you grow and develop further at Merck and we are happy to coach you along the way.

Cheers Martijn and the FSTP team

Join our free MSL webinar ... Show More

We would like to congratulate another candidate trained and coached by us - Tracey Quinn PhD – in getting her first MSL job in Neurology at Merck KGaA. Tracey, It was great to see you at work yesterday after having been coaching you this year. It was even better to see your big smile and excitement of being an MSL now. We look forward to seeing you grow and develop further at Merck and we are happy to coach you along the way.

Cheers Martijn and the FSTP team

Join our free MSL webinar on how to become an MSL here

ANOTHER CANDIDATE TRAINED AND COACHED BY US IS AN MSL NOW - DR SOUMYA MOHANDAS - 14/04/2017

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We would like to congratulate another one of our candidates Soumya Mohandas, MD in managing to get her first MSL job starting at Novartis in Ophthalmology.

It must have been a nice surprise coming home from holidays to hear you had the job 😊. It is an awesome achievement, not having any pharma experience and only started our MSL training on the 1st of February, well done! It was great coaching you and seeing how quickly you picked up things and acing that clinical paper presentation that helped you landing this ... Show More

We would like to congratulate another one of our candidates Soumya Mohandas, MD in managing to get her first MSL job starting at Novartis in Ophthalmology.

It must have been a nice surprise coming home from holidays to hear you had the job 😊. It is an awesome achievement, not having any pharma experience and only started our MSL training on the 1st of February, well done! It was great coaching you and seeing how quickly you picked up things and acing that clinical paper presentation that helped you landing this MSL job. I hope you enjoyed your this first week on the job and talk to you soon!

Cheers Martijn

Join our free MSL webinar on how to become an MSL here

WINING OR LOSING, IT CAN BE SO CLOSE - 14/04/2017

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This week I spoke to 2 of our MSL candidates in their last interview rounds – neither of them had pharma or MSL experience. One beat 2 MSLs and won, the other one lost to an MSL.
So, what’s the difference? Was it preparation? Was it that one answer? Was it team-fit? Preparation should never be a factor!! Period. That would be stupid, as you can fully control that.
Not sure if it were the other factors. Anyway, they both got to the 3rd round so they were good candidates. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That's just life.
Best is to learn from the experience, ... Show More

This week I spoke to 2 of our MSL candidates in their last interview rounds – neither of them had pharma or MSL experience. One beat 2 MSLs and won, the other one lost to an MSL.
So, what’s the difference? Was it preparation? Was it that one answer? Was it team-fit? Preparation should never be a factor!! Period. That would be stupid, as you can fully control that.
Not sure if it were the other factors. Anyway, they both got to the 3rd round so they were good candidates. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That's just life.
Best is to learn from the experience, further improve yourself, learn from the feedback and dust yourself off and go all in for you next MSL interview. Come back better, sharper, more determined and more MSL ready.
No-one said it was going to be easy!

If you need help, please feel free to reach out to us or join our free MSL webinar: https://goo.gl/AarJQm

 

Martijn

 

 

ON THE JOB WITH…DR MARTIJN BIJKER - AUSTRALIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCE INTERVIEW - 14/04/2017

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What is your current occupation or position?

Besides my day job (in pharma) I am the founder of a training and coaching company called ‘from SCIENCE to PHARMA’ that specialises in helping PhD graduates and postdocs to transition into the pharmaceutical industry as a Medical Science Liaison (MSL).
The MSL role is a very highly sought after job for candidates with a PhD. In this role, you are closely involved in bringing new drugs to the market and ensuring the proper use of the current drugs. As an MSL you a... Show More

What is your current occupation or position?

Besides my day job (in pharma) I am the founder of a training and coaching company called ‘from SCIENCE to PHARMA’ that specialises in helping PhD graduates and postdocs to transition into the pharmaceutical industry as a Medical Science Liaison (MSL).
The MSL role is a very highly sought after job for candidates with a PhD. In this role, you are closely involved in bringing new drugs to the market and ensuring the proper use of the current drugs. As an MSL you are connecting the outside world with the inside world of the pharmaceutical company. You are the eyes and ears in the field and you build peer-to-peer scientific relationships with the top clinicians and scientists in your specific disease area by engaging with them using the latest clinical data. The discussions you have with the clinicians will allow you to obtain crucial information that will help drive the strategy for the current drugs and the pipeline drugs. In short, you are literally working at the forefront of medicine, potentially changing the lives of millions of patients. 

How did you get into the area?

Five years ago I moved from science to pharma as an MSL myself. At this time the MSL role was still quite unknown in academia and little useful information could be found online. It was one of those mysterious roles: no one knew exactly what it consisted of and how to get into it. All I knew was that a PhD was highly desirable to have and the pay was almost twice that of a post-doc. It took a lot of time reading and talking to people in industry to get myself fully prepared and ready to excel in the MSL interview(s).
During my two MSL jobs in two pharma companies, many of my old colleagues and friends asked me how I transitioned into the MSL role, and asked me if I could help/coach them to make the same transition. Halfway during my MBA study, I thought “Why don’t I start a training company to help other PhDs and postdocs make the same transition as I did?” And that’s what I did two years ago. I developed a comprehensive MSL training and MSL recruitment readiness coaching program. I have since coached several hundred candidates across the globe including people from Australia, The Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Singapore, Italy, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Spain, UK, Germany and the US. 

What do you enjoy most about working in this area?

As an MSL, I enjoyed working at the interface of scientific research and clinical development, and bringing next generation truly innovative drugs to the market and to the patients. This is true translational clinical research at 1000 miles an hour, something that you can’t do in academia.
In my role as the founder of ‘from SCIENCE to PHARMA’, what I like most is the interaction I have with my candidates. I was in academic research myself for more than 10 years and I fully understand why some of the researchers want to get out (and why others want to stay). And with my academic background, I am able to extract the strengths and qualities they have that they take for granted and my pharma knowledge allows them to become fully prepared for the interviews. It is helping them find their true potential, helping them rewrite their resume to make it stand out as an industry resume that gets traction with recruiters and companies all the way to the (personal) coaching from the first interview to the last interview round. Yes, there are many rounds of interview in pharma, up to four sometimes. During this time I see them grow in knowledge, expertise, and confidence. And the best feeling is when I talk to them and hear that they have managed to get a MSL job! It just feels fantastic. 

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

There are two challenges that I face day in day out. The first challenge is to build a company from scratch. It takes a lot of time, commitment and dedication to build a company and even more when you have to do this in your spare time alongside a day-job.
The other challenging (and sometimes frustrating) part is to see many people going into this new MSL journey un(der)prepared. I am not sure if it is a mindset, thinking one can wing it, or rather the unknown world outside academia that none of us were exposed to during our academic research and therefore not knowing what to expect in a pharma interview.
We see CVs that show no understanding of what it takes to be an MSL as the CVs often look like one is applying for a postdoc position. Then we hear people reach out to recruiters with really very limited understanding of the MSL role and how the pharmaceutical industry operates. It is therefore not uncommon to hear the phrase “you do not have any (MSL) industry experience and come back when you DO have that experience”. It really takes weeks and weeks to get yourself fully upskilled for the MSL role and get fully prepared for the MSL interview rounds. Even for a ‘simple’ discussion with a recruiter you HAVE to come fully prepared. And if you don’t, you have just burned your bridges with this recruiter who had access to MSL jobs at several companies. It takes time to get fully prepared but with proper training and coaching, a lot of hard work and dedication from the candidate, we have seen many PhDs get into an MSL role without any previous pharma experience.

Describe a typical day in your job?

My alarm will go off around 4:45 [Ed. Who needs an alarm, my five year old does that for me]. I go to the gym/swimming pool or squash court at 5:30 and be back in the car around 6:30 for a 30 minute drive to work and call with one of my candidates from either Australia, the US or Europe. I will arrive at work at 7am to start my day job. I leave around 4pm and on my way home in the car I am either talking to more candidates or talking to recruiters looking for MSL candidates. Then I come home, spend time with my family and work some more at night either doing emails, LinkedIn messaging, talking with business partners or having teleconferences with people we are collaborating with either in Australia or overseas.

What excites you about your area?

What excited me the most when I was an MSL was having hour-long in-depth scientific and clinical discussions with the doctor, where you were able to explain to the doctor the complex mode of action of your drug, followed by discussing potential trials to pursue with that drug in Australia or discuss clinical research project that the doctor had in mind with your drug. You feel you are so close to the clinical science and you are making an impact into translational research and patients’ lives right there on the spot.
As an MSL coach, I love to see my candidates grow over time. I see how they get a better understanding of the MSL role; they are getting better at selling their skills and strengths as a potential MSL; what they are learning from each interview round and their increasing confidence; and then finally I hear the joy in their voice when they have managed to secure an MSL position. That is just priceless.

How did your PhD or postdoctoral research assist you with a career in this area?

For the MSL role you need to have a strong scientific or clinical background and be able to quickly learn new and difficult topics and present them in easy to understand language to doctors (who might not be as scientifically strong as you). For instance, it is common during the second MSL interview rounds that they will give you a clinical/scientific paper to present, but only 24 hours to prepare. For one of my interviews they gave me just 45 minutes, a slide deck and a paper and off you go present. You have to be quick in getting up to speed on that particular topic, extract the right information and be able to present it in a clear and concise way to an audience and at the same time be ready for any difficult questions. Having done many journal club presentation during my PhD and postdoc really helped with this.
Finally, perseverance. As a PhD or postdoc, you have learnt to deal with setbacks. You learn to always get back up again. It is not a shame to fall, as long as you stand up quickly, brush yourself off and get ready for the next opportunity. Similarly, it is not easy to get into a MSL role, you will hear NO quite a few times. Just get back up again, upskill yourself even more and try again. You will get there eventually.

Any advice for EMCRs wishing to pursue a career in your area?

Come prepared to any interview! They pay you well, starting total packages range between $135,000 and $165,000!!! And there’s a reason for that. They are looking for the best, so make sure you are the best and come fully prepared!

ANOTHER CANDIDATE TRAINED AND COACHED BY US IS NOW AN MSL - DR DANIA YAGHOBIAN - 24/03/2017

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We'd like to congratulate another candidate of ours - Dr Dania Yaghobian - who has managed to secure an MSL job in neuroscience with Novartis this month. You only started our MSL training and coaching program just 3 months ago and here you are 3 months later on the job. We are proud of you! You have done amazingly well!! Would you like to do the same as Dania and become an MSL? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"

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We'd like to congratulate another candidate of ours - Dr Dania Yaghobian - who has managed to secure an MSL job in neuroscience with Novartis this month. You only started our MSL training and coaching program just 3 months ago and here you are 3 months later on the job. We are proud of you! You have done amazingly well!! Would you like to do the same as Dania and become an MSL? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"

MY BOSS WON’T WRITE ME A GOOD RECOMMENDATION LATER IF I LEAVE NOW - 18/03/2017

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Many candidates we have spoken to are afraid to annoy their bosses by leaving before their contract expires. These are mainly postdocs. They would rather work all the way till their contract ends to then start looking for jobs. This will often mean that you will end up without a paycheque and without a job, because that great opportunity was four months ago, but you did not apply to it because there was still 4 months left on your contract.

Yes, good recommendations are good to have, don’t get me wrong. But a good job is in our views even better. Cross the bridge when you get ... Show More

Many candidates we have spoken to are afraid to annoy their bosses by leaving before their contract expires. These are mainly postdocs. They would rather work all the way till their contract ends to then start looking for jobs. This will often mean that you will end up without a paycheque and without a job, because that great opportunity was four months ago, but you did not apply to it because there was still 4 months left on your contract.

Yes, good recommendations are good to have, don’t get me wrong. But a good job is in our views even better. Cross the bridge when you get there. First, apply for that job in order to get to the last round and be considered for the job. And then, and only then, worry about your recommendations.

When the time comes you need to hand in those recommendations, you can explain the situation that your boss is a bit angry that you are leaving. They will understand. They will often ask if anyone else can vow for you. This could be a senior person from the same team, someone senior from another team/group you have collaborated with or your previous boss (if it isn’t too long ago).

So our tip is not to bother too much about how your actions will affect your recommendation from your current boss. If you are good, people will be more than happy to provide a recommendation for you. 

Martijn and the FSTP team

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

OUR 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY BLOG - 18/03/2017

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Dear MSLs, MSL candidates, MSL wannabees, and anyone in between.

We have been in business for a year now and it has been fun, full-on and a rewarding journey working with you as our students. In 2017 we will be bringing some really cool extras to help you in your journey to increase your chances of becoming an MSL in 2017. As always we are fast, agile and thinking outside the box to bring the best of the best to you. Stay tuned as there is a lot to come for you this year!

We wouldn’t be here without you! A big THANK YOU to all our students. Some o... Show More

Dear MSLs, MSL candidates, MSL wannabees, and anyone in between.

We have been in business for a year now and it has been fun, full-on and a rewarding journey working with you as our students. In 2017 we will be bringing some really cool extras to help you in your journey to increase your chances of becoming an MSL in 2017. As always we are fast, agile and thinking outside the box to bring the best of the best to you. Stay tuned as there is a lot to come for you this year!

We wouldn’t be here without you! A big THANK YOU to all our students. Some of you have already transitioned and some have just begun their MSL journey and we will be with you all the way. A big thank you to everyone who likes, reposts and comments on our posts. It means a lot to us. These topics are things we experienced ourselves or hear from you when we talk to you on the phone during our one-on-one coaching sessions. We will endeavour to continue to write more and more post on topics that matter to you. Your likes, sharing and reposting is what keeps us going, so don’t stop. And again, the one-on-one coaching when you require guidance, help and in-depth preparation and coaching for your next MSL interview, is what helps you get that MSL job. We keep it personal, you know who you are talking to and we know you, and we are here to help you get that MSL job!

The number 1 online Medical Science Liaison training/recruitment company. We finished 2016 with a BANG, being recognized by NATURE as the number 1 online Global Medical Science Liaison training company. You, as a scientist, must know how much this mean to us. Natureeee………….. J Which scientist doesn’t want their name (and picture) in NATURE?! For those who haven’t seen it please click here to read the full interview by Nature of me on “the transition from science to the pharmaceutical industry”.

ONLY ONE goal in mind; to maximize your chances of becoming an MSL. Earlier last year, we redeveloped our MSL training program with ONE goal in mind; to maximize your chances of becoming an MSL. Based on years of experience in working in 3 leading pharmaceutical companies and helping countless candidates transitioned as an MSL, we designed a comprehensive online MSL training course that provides an in depth understanding of the MSL role, the pharma industry, drug development and a lot more (6 chapters). Importantly, we realised that to fully benefit from this knowledge our candidates needed to know how best to implement it. So we developed another 6 chapters “the recruitment readiness platform” to show you how to utilize this knowledge to build an MSL focus CV, an MSL LinkedIn profile and how to succeed at the interview. Transparency is important for us so No hidden cost, no yearly repayment, just a simple payment and you have access to all our materials from any device, from anywhere for as long as you’d like.

More resources, relevant blogs and more real life stories. We also believe in sharing. We provide you with many free online resources/links nicely sorted by topic very useful for our MSL candidates and also for current MSLs. These resources are across multiple countries, as it contains links on the FDA, EMA, CFDA, therapeutic area guideline, you name it. And if you think we missed something, just send it to us and we are happy to review it and put it on the website. We are building the best MSL online resource database for YOU!

Some of you also wanted to share their success and their struggles. It is always nice to hear another one of our candidates becoming an MSL but it is important to realise that it takes hard work, lot of preparation and sometime several tries. Dr J’s posts on his journey to become an MSL is a good reminder that it takes dedication. Thanks for sharing 

JOBS, JOBS, JOBSThe WIN-WIN situation.  Our ever-growing list of aspirant and current MSLs is the perfect resource for the pharma industry looking for the ideal MSL candidates with the perfect matching therapeutic area and skills. We just had over 1000 registrations for our last free online MSL Q&A webinar!!!
This is the perfect WIN WIN situation, pharma wants to have access to the best candidates available and we have an ever-growing list of up-skilled, highly qualified and highly driven candidates, YOU.  As we have moved in 2017, we will further strengthen our connection with pharma to provide you with more and more MSL job opportunities on our website. It’s simple; if you are the right candidate, we will recommend you!

Stay tuned as we are breaking boundaries (as usual) and will be bringing a lot more cool stuff to you that will make your transition into an MSL role easier and more effective.

Kind regards,

Martijn and the FSTP team

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

ANOTHER CANDIDATE TRAINED AND COACHED BY US IS NOW AN MSL - DR ASHISH BANERJEE - 13/03/2017

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We would like to congratulate one of our MSL candidates Ashish Banerjee PhD with his new job at MERCK as an MSL Oncology and Immuno-oncology. Welcome to the team mate and look forward to working with you on our pipeline. It is always good to see more of our candidates... Show More

We would like to congratulate one of our MSL candidates Ashish Banerjee PhD with his new job at MERCK as an MSL Oncology and Immuno-oncology. Welcome to the team mate and look forward to working with you on our pipeline. It is always good to see more of our candidates moving into MSL roles.

Would you like to become an MSL like Ashish, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

Dr N #1.2: FROM FRUSTRATED POSTDOC TO HAPPY MEDICAL SCIENCE LIAISON - PART2 - 23/02/2017

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Throughout my career in basic science research, I had always found opportunities to teach and mentor others, and I loved the seeing the light of new understanding in a student’s eyes. I also loved reading exciting new journal articles and relating that knowledge back to my own research. When I discovered that being an MSL entailed lifelong learning and sharing knowledge without having to kill mice or endlessly, mindlessly, repeat the same PCR and Western blots, I was sold.

I immediately began revamping my resume and fin... Show More

Throughout my career in basic science research, I had always found opportunities to teach and mentor others, and I loved the seeing the light of new understanding in a student’s eyes. I also loved reading exciting new journal articles and relating that knowledge back to my own research. When I discovered that being an MSL entailed lifelong learning and sharing knowledge without having to kill mice or endlessly, mindlessly, repeat the same PCR and Western blots, I was sold.

I immediately began revamping my resume and finding parts of my experience that translated from academia to industry. At first, this required some deep introspection, but I discovered that, in fact, I already had many of the skills I would need to succeed. I had trained numerous graduate students and technicians, which required management skills, interpersonal skills, and a passion for educating. I had learned how to distil complex primary scientific information into a few sentences, and how to translate statistical jargon into real meaning. I had learned how to work with professors across many institutions to collaborate scientifically, and I felt comfortable approaching all of the professors at my institution to better understand their research and to inform my own. I felt comfortable presenting complicated information to large audiences ready to pounce on inconsistencies, and I had learned how to network with people at all levels of their careers. In fact, in going through my postdoc job interviews, I had already done many of the things an MSL does each day. I had read the prospective mentors’ papers, found ways in which their research complemented mine, and had come up with questions to ask them. I had also had to think on my feet and present my data to groups of people completely unfamiliar with that data. I had traveled to a number of cities and had created friendships with the lab members I was interviewing.

My only real hurdle was that many of the MSL positions I was researching required previous experience as an MSL. I prepared myself for an uphill battle and began applying for positions, expecting that it would likely take me a year to find the company willing to take a chance on me. I tailored my cover letter to each job description and tweaked my resume so that the keywords would match. I read obsessively every night about what the job was like. I reached out to current MSLs for informational interviews. That whole time, I was learning that the MSL job could look very different depending on where in the lifecycle a drug was, the size of the company, what was in the pipeline, and how involved in clinical trials each MSL was expected to be. I only applied for the positions I felt truly matched my experience, and found myself applying for 1-3 positions per week. Then, against all odds, I applied for my dream position at a large pharmaceutical company. I knew the likelihood of getting this job was low, so I messaged the listed recruiter on LinkedIn with my cover letter. Suddenly, two days later, I found a message in my email saying they wanted to do a preliminary interview. I waited by my phone anxiously for that initial interview. After more than an hour of waiting for the call, my phone rang! 20 minutes later, the recruiter said it had gone well and that he would pass my information on to the hiring manager. Then, everything went silent for almost two weeks. Finally, the hiring manager called me for another preliminary interview in which she asked me about my history and experience, and why I thought I would make a good MSL. I enthusiastically told her that this was my dream career, and that even if she didn't feel ready to take a risk hiring me right now, I would be back the next time she had an opening. We hit it off instantly, and she told me that the next round (if I was selected for it) would be in person. Again, I heard nothing for 10 days. Finally, I got an email from the recruiter stating I’d been selected for an in person interview, and that I should make my travel arrangements to Denver for a one hour meeting. The following week, I was en route to the company, with my short talk prepared and company drug pipeline memorized. I interviewed with a panel of managers and MSL’s, and the hour flew by. They asked me to describe what an MSL does, how I would handle a particularly difficult medical expert, why I wanted to do this job, and what I could bring to the MSL team. The interview went amazingly well, and they were impressed with the short presentation of my thesis work. I could not stop smiling for the rest of the day, because I knew that I had nailed the interview, and the only reason I might not get the job would be if someone more qualified than me nailed it too.

Two days later, I got an email stating my offer was being prepared, and then the following day I received the offer over the phone. I said yes and have not looked back since.

I was very lucky to be hired at a large pharmaceutical company since the training is very formalized and structured. I’ve been given all the resources I need to succeed, and I’m loving my job more every day. As I write, I’m on an airplane en route to meetings with medical experts and I can’t wait to learn more about their treatment philosophies and their knowledge needs.

Thank you Dr N for sharing this great story. We have to hear more from you as an MSL on the job.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

Dr N #1: FROM FRUSTRATED POSTDOC TO HAPPY MEDICAL SCIENCE LIAISON - PART 1 - 23/02/2017

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We have another writer on our FSTP blog page named Dr N who shares the story of getting out of a depressing postdoc into a highly rewarding Medical Science Liaison role where one is fully rewarded emotionally (and financially).

For as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to understand the mechanisms driving the world around me. This has often taken the form of the question “Why?”, and this constant quest for understanding lead me right into science. I grew up in a family of scientists and always knew that I&rs... Show More

We have another writer on our FSTP blog page named Dr N who shares the story of getting out of a depressing postdoc into a highly rewarding Medical Science Liaison role where one is fully rewarded emotionally (and financially).

For as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to understand the mechanisms driving the world around me. This has often taken the form of the question “Why?”, and this constant quest for understanding lead me right into science. I grew up in a family of scientists and always knew that I’d be a scientist (aside from the elementary school ballerina years). Picking my major of Animal Physiology and Neuroscience at a highly ranked US university was pretty much a no-brainer. In those years, I discovered that I loved knowledge, but I also loved confronting the unknown and finding answers through experimentation. Shortly after graduating, I was lucky enough to find a research assistant position in a neuroscience lab at another university and I got to keep learning and experimenting. During this time, I decided that I would one day have my own lab, despite the pressures I saw all the lab heads facing. The thought of pursuing answers to any question that I wanted to ask was intoxicating. I knew that it would be many years before I would have that opportunity, but the thought alone kept me going. I set my sights on graduate school and got into a wonderful program in Oregon. It soon became apparent to me that the funding environment was beginning to change, and the realities facing young professors were harsh. My adviser, a young principal investigator, was constantly chasing funding and jumping through hoops to answer questions that he thought funding agencies would like. I watched him spending countless hours researching what the new hot (read – fundable) topic in neuroscience would be while also having to teach courses, run his lab, and try to find time to mentor me, his first graduate student. He was given very little formal guidance how he was supposed to mentor a student and manage a lab. After all, he had spent his whole career working long hours, doing experiments, and writing grants. Needless to say, this lead to many miscommunications and frustrations for the both of us. However, after a few years, things started coming together and a paper became imminent. After much deliberation, I decided to have a baby and finish my degree at the same time. There was no formal parental leave policy at the time I got pregnant. So, with a group of like-minded female students, we formed an Association for Women in Science chapter and petitioned the university for protected time off. To our surprise and joy, we were able to pass an 8 week leave policy for any student with a new child. With the support of my mentor, I was able to take 12 weeks off after my baby was born, while submitting my first author paper for review just days before giving birth. The year that followed was both hectic and rewarding. I finished my experiments, wrote my dissertation, and began learning how to raise a child all at the same time. The day of my defense was both empowering and exciting. I felt that I could manage this work life balance thing after all.

A few months later, when I started my post doc at the same institution, but in a different field of neuroscience, I was excited and motivated. I looked forward to the freedom to ask more of my own questions and begin to shape my future career. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn a whole new set of experimental techniques, thus poising me to master my own niche in my future research. This started off well, and I initially had successes in the lab. However, as any scientist knows, successes and failures go hand in hand, and one can often be confused for the other. My adviser was young and excited, but also emotionally volatile and under a lot of pressure to succeed. As my period of experimental successes dried up, so did his excitement about my research questions. I quickly became an overqualified lab technician to him and was not allowed to follow my own directions. I became nervous and depressed every time an experiment failed, not knowing how he would respond. The lab environment quickly became intolerable and I began to doubt my future. After all, if I didn’t publish a high impact paper in the first few years of my postdoc, it was extremely unlikely that I’d get funding, and subsequently, a faculty position. In an attempt to mentor me, my adviser suggested that I could just become a staff scientist, essentially a lifelong postdoc with slightly better pay but no rights to publish in my own name or write my own research grants. This was the final straw, and I quickly began researching career options.

I used a wonderful resource called myIDP which helped me identify my strengths and interests, and suggested a number of career options. The top among these was “Sales and support of scientific products”, which I immediately discounted.

Around this time, Martijn messaged me on LinkedIn and suggested that I look into the medical science liaison career path. Lo and behold, the MSL career was hiding in that “sales and support” category in myIDP. This seemed like fate, and the more research I did, the more excited I became.

Read part 2 from Dr N, click HERE

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

DR J #7: MY MSL INTERVIEW ROUND 2+ - 23/02/2017

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Interview Round 2+

To pick up the thread from my last post: After my initial contact with a recruiter some time ago, I was invited to a next interview round for a MSL role in oncology that  I find tremendously exciting. I was extremely happy, nonetheless a ‘healthy nervousness’ now descended upon my mind. This was the real thing! This is what I wanted to happen! What I heard various times before, resonated in my head: fail to prepare = prepare to fail. It is true.

So, I set out to maximally prepare myself for this new interview round using t... Show More

Interview Round 2+

To pick up the thread from my last post: After my initial contact with a recruiter some time ago, I was invited to a next interview round for a MSL role in oncology that  I find tremendously exciting. I was extremely happy, nonetheless a ‘healthy nervousness’ now descended upon my mind. This was the real thing! This is what I wanted to happen! What I heard various times before, resonated in my head: fail to prepare = prepare to fail. It is true.

So, I set out to maximally prepare myself for this new interview round using the online MSL training materials/videos. I invested all the time I could sensibly free-up besides my ongoing job, and I mean ALL the time I could find before the interview took place: evenings, late-nights (canceled those loose appointments), mornings, lunch breaks, I must admit I even dreamt about it. I went deep, deeper and then a bit further. II studied about the company, the drugs, the trials, the competition etc. You name it and I had read about it. I accumulated so much information, that at one time I used our kitchen table (see picture) and some chairs to systematically arrange all information in clusters for the interview, so that I could get them in my head.

And it worked. By systematically working through as much information as I could find, I could construct a picture of the role, the company, and the landscape it is operating in. Preparing as many interview questions as I could, made me feel more self-assured and took away some of the nerves. The information on the TA and MOA made me feel secure in those areas. Knowing the basics of the treatment algorithm, raised confidence there.

Then, roughly a day before the interview, I heard I would be interviewed by multiple people. I briefly thought, regarding the classic 4-stage interview system, this made my interview like a ‘level 2½.’ I always assumed, a first company interview is usually performed by a single company interviewer. And if succesfull, it may be followed by the multiple interviewers-stage. Well, in any case, I went from the first level straight into the multiple-person interview. As I think there is no ‘easy level’ in interviewing and one- or multiple-interviewer constellations are equally tough for distinct reasons, I revved-up the prepping in those final hours before the interview. Making sure to allow those 15 minutes of tranquility before actually entering the interview. Just to get the mind at ease, settle that prep-dust, and get truly ready to rumble.

And we did..! Following the interview, the same day I was invited for the next round at HQ! How fantastic! I almost couldn’t believe it at first, it felt so unreal. Not because the interview didn’t go well, but because I was still in the interview ‘buzz’ and had to convince my mind it truly happened. Having progressed to the next interview level, I’m now prepping further. The MSL role should come naturally now, especially so as an academic with no previous MSL experience. So once again it is: Let’s get ready to rumble! I hope to also give you some good news from the next interview stage.

Have a 10% discount on us on the global MSL training course if you liked reading this blog. Use the coupon DRJ10% at the checkout to get 10% discount on the course. Also check out our MSL jobs on the jobs page.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

OUR FREE AND LIVE ONLINE MSL WEBINAR WAS A SUCCESS TODAY. - 18/02/2017

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We have just finished two of our three FREE and LIVE MSL webinars this weekend on "How to become an MSL without industry experience". We had more than 1000 subscribers and we were blown away with the attendee numbers and the great questions you all asked. (See for the recording of it at the end of this post).

We hope we have shown you the light at the end of the tunnel and given you hope in a time where grant money is drying out, salaries are not great for your years of education and scientific training and don't even start talking about getting a faculty position, as winning the lo... Show More

We have just finished two of our three FREE and LIVE MSL webinars this weekend on "How to become an MSL without industry experience". We had more than 1000 subscribers and we were blown away with the attendee numbers and the great questions you all asked. (See for the recording of it at the end of this post).

We hope we have shown you the light at the end of the tunnel and given you hope in a time where grant money is drying out, salaries are not great for your years of education and scientific training and don't even start talking about getting a faculty position, as winning the lottery gives you a higher chance. As we discussed today, with the right MSL training and coaching you can dramatically increase your chances of becoming an MSL without having any industry experience. And as we discussed today, don't try to wing your interview with the recruiter or the pharma company, thinking you know it (all). Trust me, you will be flying out of the interview very quickly. We have seen it happen. So come prepared.

As we have recently written in our Nature interview, the MSL job is here to stay and is growing in numbers. As the fixed pool of experienced MSLs can not cope with this growth in MSL jobs, pharma has to find candidates somewhere else. And where better to start with you - a scientific/clinical expert with years of science training. So, get your act together, have a look at our recorded free and live MSL webinar from today with great Q&A discussions at the end and start today with changing your career.

Our online MSL training platform accepts new enrollments until the 26th of February midnight (Pacific time) when we will close for an undefined period, to focus on our new students and to develop more new content for you. So be quick! There are 9 days left.

All the best,

Martijn and the FSTP team

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

OUR ONLINE FSTP MSL TRAINING PLATFORM - HOW DOES IT WORK? - 7/02/2017

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Our online MSL training/recruitment platform is a platform that allows you to start your MSL training whenever you want to. It also allows you to watch it on any device (ipad/iphone/computer) as long as you have an internet connection. There is also no limitation on how often you can watch the MSL training, you can watch it as often as you'd like. And we hear a lot of our candidates watch our videos over and over again as they learn new things every time OR they need a quick refresher prior to the MSL interview. No problem, that comes with the MSL training. You can do it at your pace: slow,... Show More

Our online MSL training/recruitment platform is a platform that allows you to start your MSL training whenever you want to. It also allows you to watch it on any device (ipad/iphone/computer) as long as you have an internet connection. There is also no limitation on how often you can watch the MSL training, you can watch it as often as you'd like. And we hear a lot of our candidates watch our videos over and over again as they learn new things every time OR they need a quick refresher prior to the MSL interview. No problem, that comes with the MSL training. You can do it at your pace: slow, fast, pause, fast-forward, rewind and view it as often as you'd like.

Recently, we have built the "MSL Acadamy" on our websitethat you should read (and do) after you have done the MSL training videos. These resources are fully free to all our enroled candidates, to further maximize their chances of becoming an MSL.

Finally, we will also provide you with group and individual coaching to get you ready for the MSL interview. We are there every step of the way.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

Talk to you soon.

Martijn and the FSTP team

 

AS A PHD STUDENT, WHEN SHOULD I START PREPARING FOR MY MSL ROLE? - 7/02/2017

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<p>So many PhD students ask me when they should start preparing for their next job/MSL job? And surprisingly, we get a lot of PhD candidates, who come to us, already submitted their thesis and want to quickly find a MSL job in the next month. Easy, right? Should be doable! Unfortunately, that is not the case. It is not that easy to find a MSL job. There is a lot of competition and it takes a lot of learning and preparation (all topics we cover in our MSL training course www.fromSCIENCEtoPHARMA.com/Training in order to become a competitive candidate.</p>
<p>We have see... Show More

<p>So many PhD students ask me when they should start preparing for their next job/MSL job? And surprisingly, we get a lot of PhD candidates, who come to us, already submitted their thesis and want to quickly find a MSL job in the next month. Easy, right? Should be doable! Unfortunately, that is not the case. It is not that easy to find a MSL job. There is a lot of competition and it takes a lot of learning and preparation (all topics we cover in our MSL training course www.fromSCIENCEtoPHARMA.com/Training in order to become a competitive candidate.</p>
<p>We have seen it can take our candidates anywhere between 2 and 12 months and we had some really great candidates in that pool. It takes time to understand the pharma industry, the MSL job, making your CV and update your LinkedIn profile, networking, doing several rounds of interviews and this is all besides the fact that it depends on the supply and demand of MSL jobs in your therapeutic area and country.</p>
<p>They might have recently launched a new product and all the MSL jobs have been filled. Or in your therapeutic area there are not so many things happening, so you cant find a MSL job. So our tip is to start to slowly prepare yourself and get familiar with the whole MSL job application process 9-12 months before you submit your thesis. That gives you ample time to get ready for your next jump.</p>

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

Talk to you soon.

Martijn and the FSTP team

 

Dr J #6: LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!! - 7/02/2017

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How much can happen in one week, regarding mood swings and career possibilities..? Quite a few things to be honest, but I’ll get to the career options later.
First I want to share something typical with you that I experienced this week, actually a discussion I got into with a colleague. It wasn’t the first time I had a likewise discussion, but this one was a bit fiery. If you’ve read my last post, you may have sensed that I had gotten stuck in a bit of a ‘dark spot’. And this did not go entirely unnoticed at work either. Most probably, my mood and a moti... Show More

How much can happen in one week, regarding mood swings and career possibilities..? Quite a few things to be honest, but I’ll get to the career options later.
First I want to share something typical with you that I experienced this week, actually a discussion I got into with a colleague. It wasn’t the first time I had a likewise discussion, but this one was a bit fiery. If you’ve read my last post, you may have sensed that I had gotten stuck in a bit of a ‘dark spot’. And this did not go entirely unnoticed at work either. Most probably, my mood and a motivation to revolt were to blame. Anyhow, I started to discuss with my colleague one of the points that I find “most unjust” in academia: the meager pay. Especially combined with the effort and energy invested, and the overall lack of secure contracts and true career options. Since my colleague is of the more traditional academic type, the discussion rather quickly got somewhat out of hand. I had apparently struck a purist-string. It went like this:
X: “What?!!”
DR J: “You know, I think the pay we get is meager, unjust, and you could almost say that at least the student- and postdoc levels are almost being extorted. To the benefit of the more senior. Academics, at all levels, would be more productive and happier if they could earn a better and more honest salary, get a solid contract for a change. Instead of the rather small amount one finds deposited at the end of the month. Yeah, maybe someone someday wants to buy a house, a car, or plan a family you know?! Mostly it’s like you have some month left over at the end of your salary, rather than vice-versa. I mean, think of all the effort and time invested in requesting funds with a scarce 10-15% success rate.. Time that otherwise would be invested in talented people actually doing talented science happily.”
X: “…You serious?!”
DR J: “Well, yes. I also think academia is losing bright talented people at a high pace, much more than they can afford to lose. Mostly because they are met with low salaries, short contracts and few true career options. It’ll kill the system in the end. Academia should re-focus on truly investing in talent, develop bright people, have a talented and happy core workforce. Rather than letting talent fight one another to smithereens. Simple cause-consequence, action-reaction, you know.”
X: “Wah. You… My, oh my. You’ve lost it clearly. Are you ill? J you’re not running a company here. This is University. It is an Honour to be an Academic Scientist, you know? Science is about earning credit, traineeship, investing and learning. Not about undertaking research with things like ‘investing money in careers’ or ‘mutual goals’… Let alone about ‘earned reward for invested efforts’ – that would open the floodgates!! They would all come running!! No. Strong competition and adamant conditions fosters talent and ambition.”
DR J: “Truly? You mean that..? That is exactly what’s wrong with academia. It’ll.. Hello?”
X left the scene, waving a hand in the air.
Deep down I thought there might have been more business inside me to begin with. Nevertheless, I really wonder why so many people, especially the ones that have been on solid well-paid (‘old-school’) positions for many years, believe that relentless over-competition and insecurity will stimulate aptitude. In my opinion it is kicking talent out by the masses and making academia an unattractive career path. The system needs an overhaul.
And that actually brings me to the point I wanted to share too: I have been invited for a second interview!! Yes, that makes me very happy! I’m prepping like crazy and will receive the date and time soon. On the one hand I’m tremendously eager to go into the interview and show what I have already learned. Still, to be very honest, I am also a bit anxious... I really hope I will make it through and then get to the next level, on my way to that MSL contract! Let’s get ready to rumble..!

Have a 10% discount on us on the global MSL training course if you liked reading this blog. Use the coupon DRJ10% at the checkout to get 10% discount on the course. Also check out our MSL jobs on the jobs page.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

DR J #5: THE HEAVINESS VS. HAPPINESS - 21/01/2017

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Does everyone who wants to exit academia and go into pharma, come to this point? Since roughly a year I have been working on finding a personal path to transition out of academia, two years if you count the “early days” of bold exploration and idea-sculpting. So, since about a year I’ve been working fully upskilling myself on the MSL role (see my previous posts 1-4). I am now in fruitful contact with several recruiters and have had some first telephone interviews that went well this time. So, there are palpable possibilities in the air, maybe even a face-to-face interview ... Show More

Does everyone who wants to exit academia and go into pharma, come to this point? Since roughly a year I have been working on finding a personal path to transition out of academia, two years if you count the “early days” of bold exploration and idea-sculpting. So, since about a year I’ve been working fully upskilling myself on the MSL role (see my previous posts 1-4). I am now in fruitful contact with several recruiters and have had some first telephone interviews that went well this time. So, there are palpable possibilities in the air, maybe even a face-to-face interview soon. And honest to say, I really feel an increasing tailwind.
So you might think "that’ll pan out, it’ll just take some time”. True. Still, going to my academia job makes me feel dismal, every day. I don’t feel connected to the ‘larger goal’ anymore, really don’t like the over-crowded 1-option career-path… The everlasting uncertainties, the relentless always-a.s.a.p. deadlines, backroom politics, mistreatment, work consistently spilling over into evenings and weekends. It has become the standard, and it’s killing spare time and relaxation in general. It has been going on unchanged for too long, for years on end, and I have had enough of it.
Last years’ venture on the road into pharma, hasn’t just been a transition of career focus, it truly has been one of the mind too. Unexpectedly profound and illuminating. My focus and ambitions have now shifted so profoundly that they have - by figure of speech - shifted my point of gravity and are squeezing me against the window that looks out from academia into pharma. I want out, but still need to find the appropriate handle to open that window and climb out towards happiness. I would rather have opened it yesterday than today. I need to stay patient and allow chances to correctly play out. To find the best-fitting handle I can find. Still, I firmly believe this means my idea of transitioning, has now matured into a very strong and positive drive to get out of academia into a career that will provide plenty of opportunities for a scientist like myself.
Even though that notion has materialized, I can personally share it only with a very select crowd. Since, for different reasons, I need to keep my pharma-ambitions “below the radar”. Which is a pity, as I am actually quite excited about the recent developments in my search for an MSL job. Furthermore, I know more than a couple of people around me who would greatly appreciate some hands-on info from me about how to potentially exit from academia. Nonetheless, at work, I need to continue as usual with the same vigour and creativity. And that is what I feel as “the heaviness”; the unwanted need to keep going on a track you no longer want to follow; a track you know you will exit sooner or later, and the silent joy that I have found a way out. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. That light is called MSL.
Are you ready to jump ship?
Have a 10% discount on us on the global MSL training course if you liked reading this blog. Use the coupon DRJ10% at the checkout to get 10% discount on the course. Also check out our MSL jobs on the jobs page.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

We are building the BIGGEST and BESTEST online MSL resource page free for YOU! - 8/01/2017

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from SCIENCE to PHARMA is building THE BIGGEST AND BESTEST ONLINE MSL RESOURCE page with links to the best MSL resources that are essential for you as an (aspirant) MSL. It will be freely accessible to anyone and is all in one easy location.
We have been building this page for a while and it already contains quite a lot of really good and helpful MSL resource links. But we need YOUR help to make it THE BIGGEST AND BESTEST ONLINE MSL RESOURCE page. So we would like to ask you to send us any online resource that covers the following MSL/Pharma topics:
  • relevant (international) therapeutic area guidelines
  • national regulatory agencies/reimbursement agencies
  • national compliance regulations
  • info about clinical trials
  • info about public and private healthcare systems in your country
  • drug naming
  • all international conferences in all therapeutic areas
  • and anything in between that you think is important to have as an MSL.

So please share your precious links and resources with the rest of the MSL global community to make this THE BIGGEST AND BESTEST ONLINE MSL RESOURCE page on the internet. Just go to the resource page and paste the URL and click send.

Look forward to your responses.
Can’t wait to see those resources pouring in.

HOW LOW CAN YOUR POSTDOC GO? - 19/12/2016

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Recently I was talking to one of our candidates - who is currently working as an MSL - about the time we first spoke on the phone. The first time we spoke, was about her interest in our “from SCIENCE to PHARMA” MSL training course, as she desperately wanted to become an MSL (and leave academia – or the other way around, I can’t remember).
In our phone calls with our candidates we always tell them that it is a competitive landscape. It requires a lot of work from the candidate’s side and we tell the candidate that it can therefore take up to 12 months to f... Show More

Recently I was talking to one of our candidates - who is currently working as an MSL - about the time we first spoke on the phone. The first time we spoke, was about her interest in our “from SCIENCE to PHARMA” MSL training course, as she desperately wanted to become an MSL (and leave academia – or the other way around, I can’t remember).
In our phone calls with our candidates we always tell them that it is a competitive landscape. It requires a lot of work from the candidate’s side and we tell the candidate that it can therefore take up to 12 months to find an MSL job. The reason for the 12 months is based on our experience with candidates from the past. It takes time to do our training, to fully understand the MSL job and pharma, to do your own upskilling, then work on your LinkedIn profile and CV, find the jobs and apply to them and then go through several rounds of interviews and potentially do this a few times if you are unsuccessful in the first few rounds. I remember this conversation with her very clearly, as she was quite desperate and adamant to get out of academia.
What I don’t remember, and could not have remembered, is that after she hung up she started crying. She started crying because – as she told me last week – she could not bear the thought of being in her postdoc position for another 12 months. She pledged to herself and later to me in our next phone catch up, that she was going to find that job within 6 months, no 4 months, she told me. She was going to prove that she could get this done in less time. And she did!
She prepared and prepared and prepared even more and every time we spoke on the phone, I was amazed about how much she had researched and learned. How much she knew about the topics, the MSL job, pharma, clinical trials, regulatory approvals, competitors, pricing, the disease landscape, guidelines, etc. She was always overprepared every time we spoke to prepare her for her next interview round. She was nervous, she wanted this so badly. She was the one who made it happen, she was the one in control, she was the one who put in those many hours. She was the one that got the job!
I told her it reminded me of my time as a postdoc, where I dreaded every morning going to work. Walking – maybe more dragging myself – up the hill to the institute, stressed, angry, defeated, stuck in a postdoc position I thought I could not get out off. I loved the science, and what better way to do science than as a scientist, I thought. But it made me feel miserable, made my wife feel miserable.
My thing to get me going every morning, despite all those feelings, was swimming and going to the gym every morning. It was my kick-starter of the day, endorphins racing through my body, just to get me going (up that physical and emotional hill) to get to work. I told her that I had days that even that massive boost of endorphins racing through my body could not get me to work and I called in sick twice. The first time I went shopping (I still use those runners for my squash games now) and the second time I went to the movie (can’t remember the movie). Sick of work, sick of the environment, sick of myself that I could not get out of this postdoc job.
I think I hit rock bottom, when I contemplated becoming a taxi driver. No offence to taxi drivers, many of them are good guys (and galls). But when you are looking into a career as a taxi driver when you have spent over a decade in uni, having three degrees, you KNOW you have hit rock bottom. I hedged my bets and also ordered a DVD on how to become a fitness instructor – at least that was an activity that I enjoyed doing most of my mornings before going to my postdoc job.
Talking to a good friend of mine, he shared a similar story when he was a postdoc. He needed to get out, but also did not know what he could do, what he was capable of. The only thing he (and we all) know was science. He was thinking of becoming a waiter or working in a bar just to support his family. He was in the same situation, many years in uni, many degrees and feeling stuck, so stuck and not knowing what else he could do when his funding would end soon. I also coached him on what it takes to become an MSL and he too became an MSL pretty quickly.
Or the candidate that was yelled and screamed at by her supervisors. I could physically feel the pain in her voice when I spoke to her the first time. She said she stopped working in weekends (besides 12 hour weekday shifts) as the yelling did not got less with her working more. She tried to do some nice things during her time off in the weekend. I recently spoke to her as well. She is an MSL, she works less, she tripled her salary, loves what she is doing, and most importantly, she feels appreciated by her manager and colleagues and EVEN has a career development plan in place. Wow, ever heard of that in academia?
Luckily, we all found a great escape after our postdoc in becoming an MSL. It felt like a huge weight had come of our shoulders. Finally, we were appreciated for who we were and what we were capable of. Still working on the science, talking to top clinicians on how to improve patients’ lives and having the feeling that your work DOES matter now. I always call it “talking science for a living”. A very well paid “living”.
What more would you want as a scientist. Being close to the science and talking about the latest scientific and clinical developments and at the same time helping thousands of patients get better OR would you rather continue to bang your head against the wall or against that rock bottom of your postdoc job? You tell me!

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

"I SENT MY CV AND NEVER HEARD ANYTHING BACK" - SOUNDS FAMILIAR? - 9/12/2016

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Let’s stop blaming bad luck and the fact that pharma wants MSLs with years of experience. Let’s look at it in a pragmatic way.
The demand for MSL is growing and there is just not enough experienced MSLs to fill this demand. This gap of MSLs has to be filled by highly scientific and clinically qualified candidates and who better to choose from than people like yourself: PhDs, MDs and PharmDs (without previous MSL/pharma experience) or MSc or BSc/BPharms WITH industry experience as a CRA, Med Info or PV.
Every week we see MSL candidates without previous MSL experienc... Show More

Let’s stop blaming bad luck and the fact that pharma wants MSLs with years of experience. Let’s look at it in a pragmatic way.
The demand for MSL is growing and there is just not enough experienced MSLs to fill this demand. This gap of MSLs has to be filled by highly scientific and clinically qualified candidates and who better to choose from than people like yourself: PhDs, MDs and PharmDs (without previous MSL/pharma experience) or MSc or BSc/BPharms WITH industry experience as a CRA, Med Info or PV.
Every week we see MSL candidates without previous MSL experience getting a MSL job. Perhaps, your CV is just not geared enough towards the pharma industry and still looks like a academic CV. Trust me, this is the most likely explanation. Once you recognize this, throw your old CV and start again from scratch and THINK PHARMA & FORGET ACADEMIA and everything that was important back then.We have great resources to help you write a industry MSL CV. Just look at https://www.fromsciencetopharma.com/CVs
It’s funny when I look back at my first CV (before my PhD) and what was i thinking of writing Pubmed as a skill. Really? I have to say I have reviewed a lot of CVs since then and even better than my Pubmed skill, someone actually wrote vortexing as a skill. Just too funny!
Anyway, in order to write a CV that will be seriously assessed by pharma you need first to understand the role you are applying for. Sounds maybe obvious but I think that is the main reason why most candidates highlight things in their CV that is just not relevant for Pharma (like western blotting). Just to list a few, focussing on your technical skills, how many publications you had, the name of your supervisor, the number of conferences you attended etc. These are very important in academia, but not at all important in pharma anymore.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

WILL IT BE THE YEAR OF THE ROOSTER OR RATHER THE YEAR OF MSL FOR YOU? - 9/12/2016

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We believe that 2017 will be the year of the MSL for many of our candidates. We just had a week of webinars with close to 1000 registrations to learn more about “how to become an MSL without industry experience” based on our No.1 Global online MSL training platform.
Asking what many of them drive to move into an MSL job, the majority of the responses were the scientific nature of the MSL job. And that is completely true. As an MSL I spent a lot of time (probably more time than when I was a postdoc) on reading papers and discussing the actual (clinical) science with people... Show More

We believe that 2017 will be the year of the MSL for many of our candidates. We just had a week of webinars with close to 1000 registrations to learn more about “how to become an MSL without industry experience” based on our No.1 Global online MSL training platform.
Asking what many of them drive to move into an MSL job, the majority of the responses were the scientific nature of the MSL job. And that is completely true. As an MSL I spent a lot of time (probably more time than when I was a postdoc) on reading papers and discussing the actual (clinical) science with people (in this case the KOLs). As an MSL you are so close to the science, explaining the mode of action of the drug, training internal people on the drug and the disease area, reading about your own company’s trials and your competitors’ trials, ploughing through disease guidelines, being involved in the clinical trial site visits and all of this to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands to sometimes millions of patients. What more do you want in a job (besides a nice salary, which comes with the job as well)?
One disclaimer, what you do as an MSL depends on the company, the country and largely on where the drug is in the pipeline, the latter we cover in our MSL training course.

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DR J #4: FROM “QUALIFICATIONS” TO “COMPETENCES”; HOW I FINALLY ACHIEVED A GOOD BUSINESS CV… - 9/12/2016

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It appears the more I write the more ideas I get for postings… For example, I made it to Round Two via a second recruiter interview (not the same recruiter as the first time, I likely burned that bridge, I think) and that development could be worth a post in itself. Also there is the personal transformation that was 2016. Still, I’ll write about those subjects in other posts. Because my entry into Round Two would not have existed had I not transformed my dry science-style CV, listing mostly qualifications and locations, into an more inclusive account of my competences and perso... Show More

It appears the more I write the more ideas I get for postings… For example, I made it to Round Two via a second recruiter interview (not the same recruiter as the first time, I likely burned that bridge, I think) and that development could be worth a post in itself. Also there is the personal transformation that was 2016. Still, I’ll write about those subjects in other posts. Because my entry into Round Two would not have existed had I not transformed my dry science-style CV, listing mostly qualifications and locations, into an more inclusive account of my competences and personal achievements, which now forms my new CV.
Maybe some of you have read my previous posts and know about my prior experiences on the (unpaved) road leading from science into pharma. This particular one started off by Martijn from FSTP mentioning he heard of a truly great MSL opportunity in my TA and area of the globe, and him mentioning nicely - but thoroughly - that my CV in any case would need “some adjustment” before applying. A somewhat “different scope” on things, so to say. I truly wanted to have a chance there, and as a fresh ‘graduate’ from the FSTP MSL course I had indeed learned that my rather arid summary of labs, professors, diploma’s, some papers and a thesis was not going to cut it with a corporate recruiter sifting through 100+ CV’s a day. Let alone a hiring manager. So, when Martijn put this to my attention, I thought: “OK he is surely right. I got a feeling of what is needed, shouldn’t be too hard.” Right?
Wrong. Most definitely. Actually my CV wasn’t bad in the sense that I lacked experience or expertise, it was just written down so dryly that you’d have to concentrate rather hard to distill from it any competences there might exist. It didn’t even include a proper executive summary. So for the first revision, Martijn told me that I needed to “spell out” my experiences upfront, what did I do to achieve XYZ, what competences that are important for an MSL job had I acquired and put it on my résumé? Why should the recruiter put my CV on the “interesting” pile, instead of straight into the bin..?
Well, I think I overdid the “spelling out” a little for the first revision. Because I started off by describing meticulously what I did on each past project. I nearly turned my CV into a story instead of a summary, trying to maximize the included experiences. I thought I delivered an honest step forward, but got a chopped-up version back beyond recognition. Interestingly, I at first couldn’t get my head around it. Since in academia I’ve always been told that you should just briefly describe where you were, at which lab for how long, maybe even decorate a project with a title and that’s it. Plus the publications, certificates and awards of course. So I set to work on revision 2. In a sense it was the same as revision 1, with half the adverbs and adjectives, and an executive summary that filled nearly a page. Safe to say, this wasn’t moving forward extremely rapidly. In the mean time, I had already passed the deadline for the application, and was starting to feel somewhat boggled as to adjusting my actual mindset into the ‘MSL’ mindset. Since, that is what the problem was: for me to write a good Pharma CV, demanding the attention of a recruiter, I would need to start thinking as an MSL and what competencies an MSL would have to get noticed by the recruiter. When it finally worked out after most welcome guidance, I had arrived at a clean crisp new CV that did not focus on publications and labs, but rather on how I worked and organized, on how I applied knowledge and expertise and talked about result orientated outcomes. It now indicated what would be useful for Pharma and a role as MSL specifically. I am very grateful for the great help I received, as it was quite a mindbender to re-align my thoughts and in a way re-appreciate the value of my past- and current work that would help me get my next job – Medical Science Liaison.

Are you ready to jump ship?
Have a 10% discount on us on the global MSL training course if you liked reading this blog. Use the coupon DRJ10% at the checkout to get 10% discount on the course. Also check out our MSL jobs on the jobs page.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

DR J #3: THE INTERNAL STRUGGLE OF LEAVING ACADEMIA - 16/11/2016

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After two posts about my early adventures on the bumpy road out of academia and into pharma, I got into some sort of internal struggle. I was going to write about why I actually aspire to leave academia. Until that subject got me questioning that exact point. Sounds familiar? Please do leave any suggestions or feedback to this post if you have experienced the same.
So first of all, I do not gravely dislike academia, and actually I really like science (these are, of course, different things). And my current job position in academia could be described as “doing good”, some ... Show More

After two posts about my early adventures on the bumpy road out of academia and into pharma, I got into some sort of internal struggle. I was going to write about why I actually aspire to leave academia. Until that subject got me questioning that exact point. Sounds familiar? Please do leave any suggestions or feedback to this post if you have experienced the same.
So first of all, I do not gravely dislike academia, and actually I really like science (these are, of course, different things). And my current job position in academia could be described as “doing good”, some people have mentioned I’m on the right road to getting “established”. Published nicely, not an extreme amount (there’s always room for improvement) but I’m still happy about the general level and the numbers. Several new manuscripts are now ready to be sent out. Had some high-impact papers, have been invited to give lectures in far-away cities, acquired several competitive grants and I am even leading a small research team now. “So what's up?”, you might think. Indeed, what's up? Am I crazy…?
Well, and this is what has caused my delay in writing my third blog. I first wrote down “no”, followed by a paragraph or two of text (which I have now deleted). Because, in my head I slowly switched from “no” to “ehm…?” and then to “am I not…?”. You know, it is as it is with all things in life – nothing is black or white. And so this step I want to undertake is likewise neither black nor white. And this is what I discovered: If the choice was black or white, I would have long since left. Still, I love science, the investigation, the discovery, the development, I inevitably like the part of academia which is exactly that. The science, until even today, has kept me ‘hooked-on’. The “wet work”, the experiments to design, the discussions and the excitement when looking at an outcome graph with ** above it, to indicate its significance. Sometimes I simply find the LCD-screen of some buzzing detection machine more exciting than a Saturday-night movie. Those sensations, have me hooked to science and medical development.
Thing is however, that exactly those things, I practically never do anymore... I delegate nearly all experimental work now. And of course, I am overtly excited when students show good results, bring ideas and I like designing experiments and strategy. But the rest of my daily work takes place on the other side of academia – which deals with funds on sharp deadlines, politics, getting published, answering reviewers (especially #3) and survival strategy. Thing is, that side of academia is ever-lasting and rather monotone. In years to come, I will keep dealing with these same things. Probably at an increasing pace. Having a very translational personal research interest, I thereby feel that I have slowly but surely drifted off from the actual work I like the most – finding the best way to cure malignant disease. Somehow I’m circling in a behind-the-scenes flow-pattern that will last. From a ‘research scientist’, I have become a ‘science strategist’. That would be great, if the strategy actually had to do with the advancement of medical treatments. And that’s the culprit – it largely doesn’t. Of course, with our research we try to contribute to new insights, and hopefully new treatments. Nevertheless, most work goes into thinking about how to keep the lab financed to survive, how and where to publish to stay attractive, work politics to manage collaborations between groups with non-shared interests, etc. To me, it feels like surfing an ever-lasting wave, you need to keep powering that wave constantly or the board will crash and (you'll) go down.. Of course, I am happy to have discovered the things that I did, and I am happy that in the past my research has even materialized into the initiation of clinical trials. Still, the current academic process that it is all part of, might just not be “my thing”.
In the end, what I discovered is that I love biomedical- and especially translational science and I really like to develop new medical strategies and -treatments. In the last years, my academic job has however slowly floated me away from those things, and has made my actual work only distantly attached to the actual goals I like. Therefore, I believe a role in Pharma as an MSL, in which I could use science in a strategic way for the advancement of new medical treatments, would suit me better.

Are you ready to jump ship?
Have a 10% discount on us on the global MSL training course if you liked reading this blog. Use the coupon DRJ10% at the checkout to get 10% discount on the course. Also check out our MSL jobs on the jobs page.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

DO THE NAME DROP OF YOUR RESOURCES! - 13/11/2016

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I am not fan of name dropping, maybe because I am really bad with names. However, you can use the name dropping when you mention the resources you found the information in when you are discussing something in the interview. For instance:

  • I read in the PI/SPC (this abbreviation you should know, more on abbreviations in other posts) of the drug that it should not be used in combination with…
  • Going through the annual report of “the company” I noticed that the sales are forecasted to go down due to the patent cliff of your blockbuster (&... Show More

I am not fan of name dropping, maybe because I am really bad with names. However, you can use the name dropping when you mention the resources you found the information in when you are discussing something in the interview. For instance:

  • I read in the PI/SPC (this abbreviation you should know, more on abbreviations in other posts) of the drug that it should not be used in combination with…
  • Going through the annual report of “the company” I noticed that the sales are forecasted to go down due to the patent cliff of your blockbuster (>$1Billon in sales), what impact will that have on building the medical affairs team...
    I feel strongly aligned with your mission statement where the science will drive the next innovation to bring patient care to the next level, what are your thoughts on
  • The investor day slides from last year’s annual year’s presentations, show that the pipeline is even bigger than presented on your company’s website. Which molecules will be included in the MSL portfolio?
  • Fiercebiotech mentioned there was a M&A bid from Pfizer on your company, what are your thoughts on the likeliness of this happening and how is management viewing this hostile takeover bid?
  • Clinicaltrials.gov showed that there are 30 trials in this MSL territory for this pipeline molecule and includes Teaching hospital 1,2,3 and 4. What will be my involvement as a potential MSL in these trials sites and potential collaboration with the clinical department?
  • The latest phase 3 publication of your drug x in NEJM showed that the safety profile is quite challenging for this pipeline molecule. Have you put in place any strategies to handle these safety issues yet? What will be my role as a potential MSL in this?


Think about which resources to mention next time you are going into an interview.

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HOW LONG SHOULD YOU WAIT UNTIL FOLLOWING UP AFTER YOU HAVE SENT THEM AN EMAIL/LI MESSAGE? - 31/10/2016

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I have spoken recently with a few MSL candidates and one thing that comes up quite a lot, is the lack of following up on their great actions.

Many of the candidates we speak to have taken a lot of courage to reach out to someone or actually have had an interview. But then after that initial burst of courage and outreach, they stay quiet for a very long time. And when I ask them, they often don’t know why they did not follow up. Sometimes they say, I didn't want to annoy them.

If you are serious to get a MSL job, you HAVE to put 200% effort in it. So after sending your ... Show More

I have spoken recently with a few MSL candidates and one thing that comes up quite a lot, is the lack of following up on their great actions.

Many of the candidates we speak to have taken a lot of courage to reach out to someone or actually have had an interview. But then after that initial burst of courage and outreach, they stay quiet for a very long time. And when I ask them, they often don’t know why they did not follow up. Sometimes they say, I didn't want to annoy them.

If you are serious to get a MSL job, you HAVE to put 200% effort in it. So after sending your nice introduction message on LinkedIn follow up with a courtesy follow up message after a week and then again after two weeks and three weeks again. There are a few reasons for this.

First, I myself accept a lot of LinkedIn invites on my iphone, for some reason I do not see the full message and after accepting it, the message from that person is gone. And it is hard to track who and where the message is. So resending the same message is always good after they have accepted your invite.

Second, I often know I should reply back to you, but life is sometimes overwhelming. By you reminding me with a courtesy follow up email, you get yourself back on the top of my list quickly and I think “let’s quickly get this off my to do list” and I reply.

Third, many people in pharma in medical affairs are travelling a lot and could be at an international conference and out of the office for 2 weeks. So your second reminder might catch them when they are just back from a conference.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

DR J is back again#2: How NOT to go into a phone interview with a recruiter. - 31/10/2016

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Dr JB is back again after popular demand. This time with an interview with a recruiter. We hope you enjoy it.
After a short leave of absence, I am back online. Let me now share how my telephone interview ended my happy MSL spell. Most frustratingly, I wish I could turn back time and re-do that interview, as I have burned an important bridge there. Not gonna happen again of course, so let me illustrate what went down: As I wrote in my first text, I was in for quite something else than what I expected. When I got the voicemail saying “Hi, this is David from XYZ company, I was wond... Show More

Dr JB is back again after popular demand. This time with an interview with a recruiter. We hope you enjoy it.
After a short leave of absence, I am back online. Let me now share how my telephone interview ended my happy MSL spell. Most frustratingly, I wish I could turn back time and re-do that interview, as I have burned an important bridge there. Not gonna happen again of course, so let me illustrate what went down: As I wrote in my first text, I was in for quite something else than what I expected. When I got the voicemail saying “Hi, this is David from XYZ company, I was wondering whether you would be interested in a position like MSL with us. I’d like to share some thoughts and see what your view is, I’ll send you an email so we may set a date and time to talk on the phone”, I was both highly excited and even a tad bit confident. Because, what could happen, right? It’s just a hello-get-to-know-you-chat to set another date and time? Did that before. Nope. It wasn’t at all casual, it turned out to be my First Interview. And it went somewhat like this:
“Hi this is David again, hope you’re doing fine”. “Very much so, thank you, how are you?” I asked. “Great, thanks!” and following a brief friendly and casual chat, he asked: “So, I have seen your interesting LinkedIn profile and the thing is that we are setting up a MSL team for a client of ours, ABC Pharma, which is looking to get their new anti-cancer therapeutic 1234 into a phase-I clinical trial. Your experience looks promising for the role, can you briefly explain how your skills might fit that role?”.
Ehm, OK, this is something else than a professor talking for 45 minutes about his pet molecule, numbing your brain into standby-mode, and at the end him asking you to teach his pet some tricks in the coming 2 years. So, (of course) I explained by summing up my research; “Yes, thank you so much for calling, and for arranging this time of day, that sounds very interesting (streeetching time to arraaange my thoughts). Wellllll, uhhh ssseeee, in the last years I focused mainly on molecule A that interacts with cascade B to activate C cells. This I hope one day will lead to a therapy against this terrible form of cancer. Also, we have been establishing a new immunotherapy by targeting D molecules specifically in E-type cancer cells. Which also we hope can get into a clinical application one day. In any case, I think my experience with A and B, C cells and D molecules is a bit different from what ABC Pharma is aiming at. Still, I’m eager to learn new skills and really interested in the position”. I was happy that I managed to squeeze all my research interests, outlook and the pet molecule into that 5-minute elevator talk – must have been a bit compressed for him. Still, my condensed summary fits normal academic conduct. A short silence followed. There was some static on the line I noticed. Suddenly I questioned if David was still there and also if he actually had a background in my field, any field for that matter, did he know what C cells are – if he at all understood, even my ‘lay version’ was complex… Damn I thought. I responded in an academic reflex, did’t think of the opportunity at hand, how my experience and insights could help ABC Pharma to get ahead, my possible new employer! I didn’t even ask what 1234 did..! Could I rescue this??
After what felt like ages he replied: “Yes, OK, so … (scribbling) … You mean that these D molecules can activate your…(paper rustling), ehm, C cells? That-is-so-interesting-indeed. Maybe one day a possible cancer cure”. Oh, he misunderstood, I should explain it again to him. Truly brief and simple now! Not a chance. David happily chattered on; “But you see, this novel therapeutic from ABC works by targeting certain processes, you know about those?”, indeed I heard about it and explained, concisely. I felt the job-chance slipped away. “Indeed, so hence you’re not that far off, experience-wise” he mentioned. “Your immuno-oncology expertise really fits. You got more to offer than you think.” That sounded unsettling. “So when does your contract end, when can you start? We are looking for someone who can start end of next month”. Not good news I thought. This is tight, I have a longer cancellation-period. “Well, my cancellation is a bit longer than that, so we’d need to figure that one out”, I mentioned. David said “OK, we could look into that, what is your salary by the way?”. That’s quite direct indeed I thought, so I tried to bounce the question; “Well, what would the salary be for the position at hand?”. The starter salary he vaguely indicated was a apparently not fixed. While I was frantically thinking of how to get the interview going smooth again, and come up with a good answer to the vague salary, David ever-so-friendly, but dryly, mentioned “What do you know about the MSL role?”. It suffices to say that at that point, it were mostly the standard definitions, I didn’t know the deeper layers yet. So I fed him what I knew, hoping to convince. He said “well thank you so much! I got all I need. Maybe talk to you in the future”. After some friendly words he hung up. Too late, that was it. I ended up on a side-track. Stalled. We didn’t get to know each other, I confused him with utter jargon! I was talking too narrowly, didn’t appreciate the bigger framework, actually forgot to ask about the whole company altogether…!! The interview lasted under 20 minutes… It felt like ages. Still, next time they’ll find me prepared.

Dr J

Are you ready to jump ship?
Have a 10% discount on us on the global MSL training course if you liked reading this blog. Use the coupon DRJ10% at the checkout to get 10% discount on the course. Also check out our MSL jobs on the jobs page.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

COME BACK WHEN YOU HAVE FINISHED YOUR PHD (SAYS THE RECRUITER) - 24/10/2016

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You told me to start preparing for my MSL job early, but when I start networking they tell me I am too far away from my PhD graduation date.
We mentioned to you to start 6-12 months before you submit your thesis. This will give you ample time to get you fully trained and ready for that MSL job. There is a lot of information to take in from our global online MSL training platform and to process. And this will take a lot of time. So when you are about 3 months away from submitting your PhD thesis - and you have done all your research about the MSL job and Pharma and much more - we belie... Show More

You told me to start preparing for my MSL job early, but when I start networking they tell me I am too far away from my PhD graduation date.
We mentioned to you to start 6-12 months before you submit your thesis. This will give you ample time to get you fully trained and ready for that MSL job. There is a lot of information to take in from our global online MSL training platform and to process. And this will take a lot of time. So when you are about 3 months away from submitting your PhD thesis - and you have done all your research about the MSL job and Pharma and much more - we believe it is time to start networking with people in pharma with MSLs and medical managers/advisors on LinkedIn and with recruiters.
When they ask you if you have finished your PhD, you can always say, we are connecting the last loose ends and it should be submitted any time and I will be granted my PhD title in a very short period. And this is all true, it is only a few months based on the total of several years of work, just tying up the loose ends.
By the time you have secured your first interview and gone through 2-4 rounds of interviews, you could easily have covered 3-6 months and you hit the ground running as a MSL just after you have received your PhD.
So our tip of the week is to plan your last year of your PhD very carefully around your next career move.
Our questions for you. How far are you out and what have you done so far to prepare yourself for your next career move?

Cheers,
Martijn and the FSTP team

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

GUEST WRITER: DR J IN SEARCH OF AN MSL JOB - 21/10/2016

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Dear MSL candidates. From now on we will have guest writers who will share "the good the bad and the ugly" experiences of preparing and getting into a MSL job. Real life experiences from the field, that you are facing already or will face soon too.
The Rise and Fall of my telephone interview
Probably I am alike a lot of you. A biomedical scientist thinking about taking the step from academia into the world of Pharma. You may also call it ‘preparing’, or maybe even ‘dreaming’. If you think that is formulated too theatrical, let me tell you about how I dro... Show More

Dear MSL candidates. From now on we will have guest writers who will share "the good the bad and the ugly" experiences of preparing and getting into a MSL job. Real life experiences from the field, that you are facing already or will face soon too.
The Rise and Fall of my telephone interview
Probably I am alike a lot of you. A biomedical scientist thinking about taking the step from academia into the world of Pharma. You may also call it ‘preparing’, or maybe even ‘dreaming’. If you think that is formulated too theatrical, let me tell you about how I dropped from ‘preparing’ back to the ‘dreaming’ level.
So, about two years ago I finally made the decision. Even though my science career wasn’t going bad, I thought to myself “Alright, I want out. I’ve had it with this one-lane career path. Let’s do it!”. Recognize that moment..? Mind you, a whole multi-year internal struggle of uncertainty, fear, anger and melancholy led up to my courageous decision. Since somehow in academia they always make you believe that there is no world outside of academia, only a hazy void. Well, at least they make you believe you’ll abandon your honorable “life’s work” and will only feel unsatisfied ever after. I have even heard professors refer to academics going from science to pharma as “we have lost him/her to Pharma”, like those people died.
But I’m drifting off here. Back to the point. So I made my decision. I was prepared, wanted to take that step, get off the ever-narrowing track of options in academia. And what then happened was… nothing. Nothing at all happened. The party was all in my head. I mean, I could surely not tell my colleagues I wanted to pursue an exciting Pharma career as they would have regarded me ‘unfaithful to the cause’. There was also no respectable training- or support program for “scientists wanting to transfer” in place at my University, let alone I talk to my professor for guidance.. It also shook me up to realize that all people I knew appeared to be rigidly underway in academia. Except for a few, with whom I somehow lost contact long ago. Then I did what most of you did: I made a LinkedIn profile. I knew that was clever, that’s what business people do, so I put all my academic skills in there, collected a whole 30-odd contacts by inviting some colleagues and friends and checked who visited my profile 3 times a day. Still, the visitor number hovered scarily close to zero. As you can foresee this smoldered along. Disappointed by the harshness, I got back to my academic life. Which I actually found rather dissatisfying. Still, I started to think “what if this is just as good as it gets? Don’t complain, you got a job and even some responsibility”. I rearranged to stay put.
Hence, my LinkedIn profile was left behind like a mildewy remnant of yesterday’s hopes, and I even started to avoid looking at it. This phase lasted about a year, in which I still managed to double my contacts nonetheless. One rainy Sunday afternoon in between the stress of trying to acquire 2 personal research grants on tight deadlines, juggle thick department politics and trying to finally land that big publication, I once again started to explore the job advertisements on LinkedIn which always appeared to me as ‘postcards from beyond’. Strange names, unknown companies, exotic job descriptions, promises of good financial weather. I found a job named “MSL”. After increasingly interested googling, rebellious sentiments and bold thoughts of redemption I hit that “Apply Now” button the next day, and pop – there went my outcry. Of course I didn’t hear much except from the automated “Thank you for your application and good luck!” system-message in my inbox. It was not until 3 months later I suddenly had a recruiter visit my LinkedIn profile. She read through my derelict online resume, sifted through thick academic jargon, international labs and professor’s names. It must have still sparked a shimmer of hope in her mind as she called me two days later. I was baffled and almost enchanted – I had it made! I was contacted! My exhilaration not withstanding, I was in for an epic fail. I didn’t realize that as a classic scientist, approaching all things with a rationally naïve but optimistic scrutiny, I was in no way prepared for the clear-cut goal-oriented questions I was about to face, let alone the actual meaning of the telephone interview.
I now wish I was better prepared for the MSL role before I was contacted by her, as it would have saved me the pitfall. Let me tell you in my next post how my first telephone interview went. I post these stories here online, as I am tremendously curious to see if any of you have gone through, or are going through, the same phases, thoughts and sentiments. Please, feel free to provide feedback! -

All the best, Dr. J

PS: if you are like Dr J, ready but unprepared, then use the coupon and get 10% discount to start your MSL career: DRJ10%

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

SHOULD I FINISH MY CONTRACT BEFORE APPLYING TO MSL JOBS? - 21/10/2016

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Should I finish my contract with my current boss first before applying to a (MSL) job

We speak to a lot to candidates and for some reason they are all very loyal (to their not so loyal boss). It is a good trait to have, don’t get me wrong. Especially when it works two ways. However, the problem often is (in academia) that it is a one-way street. You give all your loyalty and in return you get the boot when the money runs out on the project and you are on the street, not knowing how to pay your rent and support your family.

Our tip is to see your work a... Show More

Should I finish my contract with my current boss first before applying to a (MSL) job

We speak to a lot to candidates and for some reason they are all very loyal (to their not so loyal boss). It is a good trait to have, don’t get me wrong. Especially when it works two ways. However, the problem often is (in academia) that it is a one-way street. You give all your loyalty and in return you get the boot when the money runs out on the project and you are on the street, not knowing how to pay your rent and support your family.

Our tip is to see your work as a transaction. You perform the work you do and in return you get paid for it. No more no less. Once the money runs out, you are out. Once you find a job, you are out J

Therefore, when looking for a position in pharma or trying to become an MSL, forget about the fact that your still have a year contract that you’d like to finish, or you’d like to finish that manuscript (pharma does not care if you have one more paper, really), or there is no one to fill the gap when you leave, or you are afraid of not getting a good recommendation from your boss (we get back to that one in a later post). Think of the opportunities to embark on a new career. Think about the financial stability for you and your family. Think about the intellectual growth opportunity. Think about YOU!

So our tip of the week is to think of YOUR own career first!

Martijn and the FSTP team

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"  

TO POSTDOC OR NOT TO POSTDOC? THAT IS THE QUESTION - 21/10/2016

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To postdoc or not to postdoc? That is the question (we get from our candidates when we speak to them about the MSL career). We can honestly say, it doesn’t hurt if you have done one. You are more senior, you probably have done more (international) collaborations with KOLs, you have supervised more people, taught at uni etc. These skill sets all come in handy for a MSL job. Most people however are at a cross-road after finishing their PhD, and wonder, should I do a postdoc to increase my chances of becoming a MSL. The short answer is NO and the long answer is NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
O... Show More

To postdoc or not to postdoc? That is the question (we get from our candidates when we speak to them about the MSL career). We can honestly say, it doesn’t hurt if you have done one. You are more senior, you probably have done more (international) collaborations with KOLs, you have supervised more people, taught at uni etc. These skill sets all come in handy for a MSL job. Most people however are at a cross-road after finishing their PhD, and wonder, should I do a postdoc to increase my chances of becoming a MSL. The short answer is NO and the long answer is NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
Our tip of the week is make sure you have a job that pays the bills. If becoming a postdoc is an easy transition, and it pays the bills for you (and your family) then TAKE IT!
BUT, make sure you are not doing this for years, as the skills you learn as a postdoc are not much more than you have already acquired during your PhD. Of note, a more clinical focused postdoc would be much better.
So the second part of the tip is, once you have the steady income, you will have to take two routes. First, get into pharma to get industry experience, does not matter which role. Again it pays the bills, you are getting exposed to how things work in pharma, and more importantly internal candidates often get a chance to get promoted to a MSL job.
The second part, is to continue looking for and applying to MSL positions, while being a postdoc and even while you have taken a job in pharma. Don’t sit out your contract, because you are a loyal person. Take charge of your career, and be in the driving seat.

We are here to help you and we have all the resources to get you upskilled to maximize your chances of becoming an MSL.

Would you like to become an MSL, but you don't have any MSL experience and have been rejected several times? Then sign up HERE for our FREE and LIVE MSL webinar on "How to become an MSL without havnig any MSL experience"