Readying students for careers in industry: A guided inquiry activity to prepare students for success in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry positions.


Gross S(1)(2)(3), Sohl CD(4).
Author information:
(1)From Department of Biochemistry, Agios Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
(2)Gordon Entrepreneurship Institute, Tufts University School of Engineering, Medford, Massachusetts, USA.
(3)Department of Developmental, Molecular, and Chemical Biology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
(4)Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA.


While science students are well prepared for careers in biotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences in terms of technical expertise and critical thinking, they rarely have an opportunity to practice the due diligence required for success in industry in their coursework. This includes framing their expertise as solutions to challenges a company may be experiencing, an important skill for the interview process. As most academics have not applied for positions in industry, they may feel ill equipped to help students practice the important skills of framing their expertise within company goals and to discuss the business and financial concepts relevant to careers in scientific industry. Here, we describe an educational activity first developed by a leader in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry that was modified and given educational context by an academic in a class of upper-level undergraduate and graduate students. In this guided inquiry activity, students were instructed to select a start-up company in their field-ideally one to which they intended to apply for a job. Students were empowered by scaffolded hands-on exercises to research the company's scientific focus and finances, and to frame how their expertise could help companies achieve stated goals. Students compiled and delivered their research as an in-class presentation.