What happens when you have all your ducks lined up and the universe throws you a curveball? That’s the moment when you have to regroup, reflect deeply on what you want the new path that is opening up to you to look like and trace a game plan that will allow you to come out winning. Drew Slack was well on his way towards a life in the professoriate when his curveball arrived. In today’s episode, we’ll learn about the principles, the resources and the values that were key in building the career he has carved out for himself today.
Drew Slack is an experienced Medical Affairs Director with accomplished career history in the biotechnology and health regulatory sectors. Skilled in Oncology, Molecular Biology, Biotechnology, Management, and Clinical Research. Scientific professional with Postdoctoral experience in Translational & Clinical Oncology Research, with Ph.D. focused in Molecular Pharmacology and Oncology from McGill University.
What You’ll learn about in this episode:
- Everyone is subject to sudden changes coming from external factors, such as the abrupt cancellation of a grant program
- The importance of physical activity and community outside your research as a graduate student and as a postdoc
- The regulatory domain as a career outlet for PhDs in the life sciences
- How to rebrand yourself when interviewing for a non-academic position
- How informational interviews can help you navigate the hiring process for jobs in governmental organizations
- Moving laterally inside an organization to reach a position that fits you best
- How your hobby or your side-gig can shape your professional future and have a tangible impact on your career opportunities
- The importance of committing a portion of your time to you and your own personal and professional development
This episode’s pearls of wisdom:
“That confidence going in is so important, right? If you don’t possess that, you’re not going to be fluid, you’re not going to smile, you’re not going to present yourself in a way that is natural and authentic. So, I think this is important to secure the position. You have to present yourself professionally well, but you have to present yourself well personally, as well. And I think all of those things are tied together by having that confidence that you know the organization’s mission and values, you’ve read every document that is publicly available, you’ve really taken every step to educate yourself about the position… If you haven’t done that, if you haven’t completed your due diligence in that regard, then you’re not ready.”
“Postdoctoral work is the most physically and emotionally challenging environment, I think. I think that’s where people find themselves most explicitly tested. It’s a real walk of faith to do that. So, I say that’s one thing – is that you really learn to trust and rely on yourself and without question, that’s where you develop your strongest work ethic and determination.”
“That capacity to calculate and to actually take risks is a skill tat every good academic researcher develops almost to the point of intuition. And I do think that that’s amongst many of the skills that you develop in a research setting – that self-reliance, that confidence that you inevitably have to develop in your own hypothesis, in the quality of your own work. You’re really the captain of your own ship and I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for it. When you go into professional environments, you see that you, in some of those regards – autonomy, self-sufficiency, professional engagement – all of these things, I think, help PhDs stand above their competitors.”