Are you wondering which career path fits you the best? Huck Graduate Student Advisory Committee (HGSAC) aims to help you figure it out by presenting the choices of our alumni.  Dr. Chen Wang’s experience will help you get an overall idea of the career path into a pharmaceutical company. Pharmaceutical industry is a hot area for bio-major graduates. It provides you with the opportunity to participate in life-changing medicine development as well as a good life-work balance.

Dr.Chen Wang graduated in 2014 with publications in top journals including Science. She was coadvised by Dr. Carsten Krebs and Dr. J Martin Bollnger, Jr during her graduate studies at Penn State.  Dr. Wang went to The Scripps Research Institutes after graduation and worked as a postdoctoral fellow for 1 year and 3 months. She started a career with Amgen in February 2016. If you want to know more about the industry, please contact her on LinkedIn.

chen wang

  • What’s your educational background? Is there anything specific that prepared you for your current career?
    Undergraduate—Food Science; MS-Microbiology; PhD—Biochemistry
    Technical skill set is the top priority and a good publication record will be very helpful while looking for a R&D job with a pharmaceutical company.
  • What’s your career path after graduation from Penn State?
    After finishing my PhD at Penn State, I chose to get postdoc training in a lab with an extensive industrial network. This postdoc training provided me a chance of getting involved in various projects in a very short time.
  • What are your current roles/responsibilities? How have these changed over time?
    My current work focuses on the development of an in vitro assay for drug screening. I just started this job, and maybe in the future I may take on more responsibilities of leading a project.
  • Was this career path something you had always considered?
    Yes, the current job is within my plan. I prefer to do research work in an industrial setting. This job could provide me very good work-life balance.
  • What skills have made you and others in your field successful? Were there any unexpected skills that you needed to learn?
    Technical skills and collaboration are required for an entry level R&D position in a pharmaceutical company. If you want to be more successful in the R&D department, leadership and interpersonal skills might be needed.
  • What can a young scientist do to position him or herself for a career in your current position? Any tips on specific ways to network in the field?
    Build up your network, try to get involved in various projects and learn about the job market.
    Internships can give you a good chance to learn about industry and the job market.
    Try to get in contact with some professional recruiters in your field.
  • Would you consider making any change to your current career? What’s your career plan in the future?
    Just starting this new job, I’m exploring various possible opportunities.
  • How easy/difficult is it to balance work and personal/family life in your career?
    Usually, an industrial job provides a good work-life balance.
  • What advice do you have for a foreigner to work in the United States? Have you been through any difficulty? Is the international background helpful in your career?
    My immigration status was a big issue, while I was looking for a job. However, if you make a plan in advance, everything is possible. My personal feeling is that big companies don’t care if you are a green card holder or not.
  • What advice do you have, about anything, for current graduate students?
    Build up your connections and be open-minded.
    Being patient with research and job-hunting.
    It is worth putting in effort on research.
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