Career Center

In the Spotlight: Tiara Kawahara Shiell, PhD

Find Your Career Path by Identifying and Realizing Your Passion

Stanford Affiliation: Graduate Student
Department: Cancer Biology
School: Medicine
Degree: PhD
Industry:Consulting
Position: Life Science Specialist
Location: L.E.K.; Los Angeles

"When I began graduate school, I imagined that I would eventually lead a laboratory at a research institute or in industry.  I initially planned to contribute to the treatment of disease by running a lab which studies their mechanisms.  As I continued through graduate school, however, I realized that I was less interested in discovering the detailed mechanisms driving disease and more excited about how one could apply this knowledge to development of therapies.  In addition, I realized my attraction to frequently changing gears and working on many different short term projects that span diverse areas of biology.  I decided to explore what other types of work, aside from research, could fit me.  To better identify my strengths and the work that best motivates me, I visited the Career Development Center (CDC) and took a number of surveys which helped to identify my preferences, strengths and weaknesses.

I used what I learned at the CDC and next tested career possibilities by joining the Stanford Scientific Magazine as an editor.  I also enrolled in a Patent Law and Expert Testimony course at the law school and a marketing course in the department of Management Science and Engineering (MS&E).  Through these experiences, I soon realized that I am energized by collaborating with individuals who have a background much different from my own to learn and solve problems.  I particularly enjoyed the practical and immediately actionable nature of my business course, and thus continued taking courses in the department of MS&E and the business school.

After taking many more classes, I was convinced that I wanted my future job to be at the interface of the life sciences and business.  Now, I was certain wanted to be much closer to the development end of multiple disease treatments rather than the research side of one biological pathway.  After attending career fairs and a two-day consulting workshop, I knew consulting was the right fit for me.  It would best allow me to leverage my background in biology and problem solving, participate in the development process and also gain a solid foundation in business.  I worked with the School of Medicine Career Center to prepare for my interviews and after months of preparation, I am excited to start my new job as a Life Science Specialist at L.E.K.  At L.E.K., I will work with a diverse team of individuals to help companies in the life science industry answer strategic business questions.

My job search and interview process made me realize how many different post-graduate career options we have as Ph.D. students.  Unlike many other graduate schools, Stanford has an excess of formal and informal ways for us to explore these options.  I encourage you to take classes or join clubs that interest you, use the career centers, and/or attend the School of Medicine Career Center seminars if you’re also wondering what job opportunities are out there for you."

Tiara Kawahara Shiell
September 2010

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