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December 7, 2006
Are You Experienced?
Here's a mighty topical question for some of my associate colleagues these days: what is it that people are looking for in a presentation from a MS-level candidate?
Associates are expected, first and foremost, to make SAR analogs. If you can crank out a stream of reasonable compounds, you're probably going to do fine, and if you can't, you almost certainly won't. But making a pitch to get hired somewhere can be difficult if you've worked, say, on several projects, but none of them long enough to make a big coherent story based on your own analogs. You don't want to look like you're taking credit for the work of others, and it doesn't look good to complain about being shuttled around from project to project, either. What to do?
It's also tricky if you've had a fair amount of boring-but-necessary analog work. This gets at the tension between neat chemistry and good med-chem, which two fields don't always overlap very well. What if you made a fine string of compounds, important for the direction of the project, with maybe a solid contender or two for the clinic in there - but you made them via yawner reactions that undergrads learn in the first semester of Organic?
My advice would be to make a virtue out of necessity. The thing is, it's actually a good thing when compounds can be made by old-fashioned reactions. Rather than apologize for it, I'd say make it a selling point. Of course, you would want to find some way to show that you're capable of fancy stuff (or at least fancier than what you're showing). If there aren't any examples you can dredge up from your project work, it may be worth including some slides from your graduate work if they're more showy.
The same technique can be applied to work done on a large number of projects. The best thing I can think of in that case is to show it off as a wide range of experience, and demonstrating the ability to pick up new projects quickly without getting distracted.
Anyway, I'll throw this one open to my lab-head level readers. If you're hiring an associate with some industry experience, what do you most want to see from them? Comments welcome. . .
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