Starting your career in pharma with a Life Sciences degree

By Chris Costello, Market Access Consultant

Graduating this summer with a Life Sciences degree?

Fancy working in ‘Healthcare’ or ‘Pharma’ but don’t want to work in a Lab?

In line with the time of year and the job hunt that most graduates now face, I am often surprised / astounded at how unaware candidates are of the options that exist in today’s market for them. A BSc Lifesciences Degree can open a lot of doors and lead to a very fulfilling (and often lucrative) career, but you must start somewhere and that’s where I feel grads could do with some extra help.

Every day myself and my colleagues field calls from bright, articulate and well qualified graduates who are looking for that first step into Pharma but, when asked what area of Pharma they are interested in, the answer of “I’m not sure, just Pharma” is an all too common response.

As a comparison and whilst (obviously) not as glamorous and as famous as the footballing world, this is the equivalent to ringing Manchester United’s main reception and asking for “a job in football”. We all know there are so many roles that exist in football – such as scouting, commercial, legal, support sales, operations, finance, physiotherapy, strength & conditioning, administrative etc – but, because all of these areas are so well defined most people will have some sort of inclination towards one or two areas and, naturally, pursue that particular path.

Whilst Pharma isn’t as clearly defined as the roles within a football club, and switching paths is by all means possible, the focus (similar to the football analogy) should always be on what you enjoy the most and what you want to do in the future! There are so many different career paths in the Pharma / Lifesciences industry that, whatever your passions or inclinations, I am very confident that there will be a route for you.

Here at Carrot, we’d recommend thinking about the following to help you decide which career path within pharma to take:

  • What experience have you gained during your degree?
  • How could this transfer into a career in pharma?
  • Which areas of the pharma industry interest you the most?
  • Have you had work experience within a specific sector/with a specific company?
  • Speak with your tutors or career advisors – they are there to help with these big decisions.
  • Do your research! Before approaching a pharma company or recruitment agency we’d highly advise you have a brief understanding of the sector you wish to work within.

For further information to help you with this big decision, both Prospects and the ABPI have written fantastic articles on which sectors within pharma you Life Sciences degree could help you transfer in to.

Many of the big pharma companies run their own graduate schemes (as opposed to going through a recruiter) but to give you an idea of the type of roles out there within the industry you can take a look at our jobs page here.