Career Center

In the Spotlight: Michael Zastrow, PhD

Looking for results in your job search? One Postdoctoral Scholar found success by identifying goals and exploring career options through informational interviewing

Stanford Affiliation: Postdoctoral Scholar
Department: Developmental Biology
School: Medicine
Degree: PhD
Industry: Biopharma
Publications Associate
Location: Actelion Pharmaceuticals, South San Francisco

"The decision on how you are going to spend the large chunk of your life known as your career is one of momentous importance.  After spending numerous years in active research at the laboratory bench, I decided to explore options outside of the academic world.  This is a daunting task, and I turned to the library and online information to begin this journey.  While printed materials gave me a well-rounded view of research based and non-research positions available to classically trained scientists, I was still left with the difficult decision of what career fits my skill set as well as my personality.

This is where Michael Alvarez and the members of the School of Medicine Career Center (SOMCC) helped to open my eyes.  With Michael’s guidance I identified personal goals and aspirations and was encouraged to contact people currently working in positions I found interesting.  Asking people to take time out of their busy work schedule to share the attributes of their jobs (an informational interview) was something I was uncomfortable with at first, but gave me valuable information in my fields of interest.  I found most people were more than willing to take time out of their schedules to meet with me, and I established numerous friendships that I still maintain today.

If you are considering working outside of academia, I recommend talking with everybody you know about what they do and what your goals are.  I made a great contact by talking with someone in the supermarket checkout line; you never know who you will meet. The skill of networking is very powerful and was the best way to get results. Blindly sending a resume, initially my main way of convincing myself that I was searching for a job, yielded little success.  A smile, handshake and pleasant conversation truly made all the difference.
The end-result from my career search: I am a Publications Associate who insures that data generated by clinical trials is shared in a timely and unbiased manner.  Working at Actelion is an amazing experience.  I participate in cross-functional teams and am gaining experience in many facets of the pharmaceutical industry. I find it very exciting and rewarding."

Michael Zastrow
January 2010

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