PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Lindsay Roth (Hosted by Merck — Neuropharmacology)

In the spring of 2020, 36 PhD students from a range of academic disciplines at Penn participated in Career Services’ PhD Career Exploration Fellowship (CEF) program, where they were matched with a host organization in Philadelphia to learn about different careers beyond academia. Lindsay Roth, a PhD candidate in Pharmacology, was placed as a Fellow with Merck –Neuropharmacology. Read about her experience in the CEF below!

What was your fellowship experience like working with your host? What activities did you engage in?

Since we were limited to virtual activities, my host did a fantastic job of connecting me with various colleagues to learn more about their career trajectories, ask questions and get advice on transitioning to industrial scientific research. Given the situation, I really found this experience useful and it will continue to serve me well as I finish my PhD and use my connections to transition to research in the pharmaceutical industry.

What did you learn from this opportunity (about yourself, about career fields, the job search, etc.)?

I learned a lot about the job search and interview process for research scientists in the pharmaceutical industry. I strengthened my abilities in performing informational interviews and feel more comfortable talking to referred contacts or even complete strangers, especially via LinkedIn. I realized through my experiences with this fellowship that most people are extremely friendly and are willing to chat about their experiences so it’s always worth it to put yourself out there!

How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?

Even though I didn’t get much hands on experience at Merck, I’ve kept the contacts I’ve made through this fellowship and will keep in touch with these scientists via email and LinkedIn to follow up with future questions and advice.

What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?

This experience was valuable to me since it solidified my reasons for pursuing a research career in the pharmaceutical industry. Many of the thoughts that scientists at Merck shared with me really resonated with me and strengthen my drive to transition to this career field. This experience also made me feel more confident when talking with strangers and made me more confident in my own research abilities and ability to communicate that research.

Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF?

I highly recommend this program to anyone that has even the smallest inkling that academic science is not their top career choice. This fellowship showed me so clearly that there are so many options out there and made me more confident to go talk to people and find out what’s out there!

For more information about Career Services’ PhD Career Exploration Fellowship, please visit our program webpage here.

By Helen Pho
Helen Pho Associate Director, Graduate Students & Postdocs