DR J. #8 - So close to the MSL role....

My brief ‘radio silence’ on the blog has had a cause. After completing multiple interview rounds successfully, I finally had an MSL contract in hand! Yes, indeed a contract! However, I didn’t sign it.

Let me describe how my final interview round unfolded, how great of an experience it was and how well it went. And how and why I reached that final decision of not signing the contract.

I have been wanting to transition from academia into pharma for a considerable time, with an MSL job as my prime focus and ambition. And this still is my ambition. So what happened..?

My previous interview round went very well (a telephone interview with multiple people from the company). And I quickly learned from the recruiter who had initially contacted me that the company wanted to subsequently invite me to an assessment center. I was exhilarated and knew this was the final step towards the MSL job. I wanted to land that MSL job, so I needed to excel at every step of the interview. I received some information on how the testing day would go. Knowing what was expected, I prepared intensely for several days and transplanted myself into the MSL role, immersed myself fully into it and speaking to current MSLs in that therapeutic area to get ready. To land this MSL position. I needed to arrive there on the scene as an MSL, feeling as if I was an MSL, talking like an MSL and dressed like an MSL. No longer be that ‘academic-wanting-to-become-an-MSL’ person.

Luckily for me, the trip to the test center was not too far. I took the travel time to go through the main details once again in my head. Even though I can’t elaborate on the actual tests, I can tell you that it was one truly intense and well-organized day. I have never experienced anything like that before in my life. And it was a great experience too. I did well and received a good offer. I was there, I had the offer in my hands! I just needed to sign it. Easy, right?

After my initial never-ending-high, I however realized there were some characteristics in the project, the territory and the job that didn’t feel right to me at that time. A thought, which I really did not want to be thinking of at this stage with the contract in my hands for the MSL role I so desperately wanted. Still, there it was. It was actually nothing adverse or concealed, just a constellation that I personally could not align to my current life, to put it generally. It was also something that after talking to several MSLs was in their eyes quite unusual for an MSL. Still, it also had the added potency to form exciting possibilities down the road. Nonetheless, upon kindly and thankfully double-checking with the company, it appeared that this was the way the job was ultimately set up. And it would not likely change. Of course, fully understandable. I was so very thankful for the offer, so happy, but it was completely torn in my head. I was so very near, literally ‘just the signature’ away from achieving my first MSL job. Moreover, I really did like to company and this project! They gave me several days to think, a flexibility that I greatly appreciated. In the end, I chose to follow my gut and thankfully and respectfully needed to decline the offer. Unexpected, also for them. Yet they mentioned they could understand. Even though I was confident about my decision, another part of me was logically feeling rather down. So close, but still so far…

Now I am back to ground-level. Reset. Replenish. Reload. I am still in contact with the company, as well as with 2 other companies. Hence, I hope that I will be able to land the right MSL position soon, or maybe even one at the same company under a different setup. It was one very intense experience, and it has taught me a lot in a very short time. Most of all, my self-inflicted ‘hard reset’ has made it very clear to me how much I want to transition into pharma as an MSL. Still, I need to find a position that harmonizes fully with me and my family. Even if this means taking somewhat more time and investing that added effort, to find it.

Are you ready to jump ship?

If you like reading Dr J’s blog and want to come as prepared as he did for YOUR OWN MSL job interviews, then join the most comprehensive global Board-Certified MSL training platform today. Just go to the Board-Certified MSL training page and use the following coupon to get a 10% discount:


Or join our free MSL webinar to learn more about the MSL career by clicking HERE

Do you have a great story to share, or an MSL topic to talk about? Email us on [email protected]


MSL newsletter

Receive MSL blog stories, great MSL content, MSL news, career advice, MSL jobs, tips and discounts straight into your inbox.