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Tips & tricks for your job search (from a scientist in business)

Mariana Cerdeira holds a PhD in Medical Neurosciences and works as a consultant at Catenion, a pharma consulting firm in Berlin. With us she shared how she transitioned from academia to consulting.

Mariana really enjoyed doing research, but never strived for becoming a professor or PI. However, like most young researchers, she was not exposed to other career options – so she embarked on an expedition for the right fit herself. Thinking strategically about your career path is something she suggests doing during your PhD – check out her tips below.

While hard skills seem to be more appreciated in science, it was soft skills that turned out to be really important for Mariana. She build on and expanded them specifically in science communication – she participated in a TED-talk, in science slams, and wrote a well-clicked piece on LinkedIn.

Today, she found the job she wanted to do in pharma consulting.

Mariana on Consulting

»I did not leave science, I left academic research.«

  • Consulting is one of many possible career paths for researchers
  • Also called “Business/Management/Strategy Consulting”, this field defines best strategies and solves problems that companies (or other organizations) have
  • There are not only the big, well-known companies, but also small boutique consulting firms focusing on topics, such as Life Sciences and organizational development, or sectors (public, private, nonprofit)
  • The “consultant profile”: extrovert, socially confident, pro-active, ability to work more than 9-5
  • Meeting and working with clients while helping in delivering solutions is very rewarding

Tips & and tricks for your job search


1. Get informed 

… about what’s out there & get informed about YOURSELF. Be honest to yourself: what am I good at? What’s important to me?

GSO resources on career strategies:


2. Narrow down your options

Let’s say you find consulting interesting, apply filters using keywords, such as a location, a field, English-speaking options, …

You can do that easily using LinkedIn as a research tool.


3. Target your options

Use LinkedIn to write direct messages to someone with a relevant job profile or to someone who works at a company you’re interested in; ask them for an informational interview – it’s better than a standard email, because your CV is right there.

  • For the informational interview ideally meet in person or via video call.
  • Be respectful of your interviewee’s time and ask specific questions.


4. Know you transferable skills

Skills you acquired in academia are useful in other sectors – but the wording might be different.


  • time management,
  • analytical skills,
  • problem-solving,
  • building collaborations,
  • being resilient etc.


5. Take the advice that works best for YOU

You might want to adjust your CV, and go with the gut feeling when exploring career options.

Helpful articles:


6. Just TRY – a “No” you already have

The more you reach out to people the more comfortable you get and the more you learn!