The University of Sussex recently hosted a panel discussion giving PhD students the chance to learn
more about a career in the pharmaceutical sector and wider STEM fields. We were delighted to see
Dr Steven Ross, one of our senior formulation scientists, take part as a panellist. As someone who
made a successful leap from academia to employment, and continues to progress in a career path,
Steven had a lot of insight to share with these budding scientists.
There’s no doubt that a doctorate in a STEM discipline lays the foundations for a successful career in
a related field. Steven’s PhD in pharmaceutics and drug design stood him in excellent stead to join
our team and develop the high-quality medicinal products we’re known for. There’s certainly room
for more enthusiastic doctors like him to come and join the STEM sector.
On the panel alongside Steven were other people in STEM sectors who studied for a PhD. While their
roles differ, one thing they had in common was their view on what STEM employers are looking for
in PhD students.
Panellists advised PhD students to take the following steps to prepare themselves for a successful
transition to employment:
- Take charge of your project: Be a leader, not a follower! PhD students are recruited for their
unique insight to problem solving, and won’t be joining at the bottom of the ladder. They
should show how successfully they have spearheaded their project and how their decisionmaking led to positive outcomes.
- Build your network: The STEM sector offers many conferences and symposiums, and it’s key
to get in front of as many people as possible. It’s never too early to build your reputation in
the sector, and your first career opportunity could come from attending an event and
speaking to an employer looking for PhD talent.
- Make your mark: Don’t underestimate how far and wide a thesis can go! Look at whether
any chapters can be published in a journal or may be of wider interest to the public. It shows
an employer how prevalent you are in your sector.
- Teamwork makes the dreamwork: Studying for a PhD shouldn’t be a solitary experience.
Joining research groups and collaborating with other universities on joint projects won’t only
enhance communication skills but also strengthen your research.
- Join professional bodies: Make the most of groups relevant to your PhD topic. They provide
access to supportive resources and people. And when the time is right, they can guide you
through making your first foray into the working world.
Dr Steven Ross says: “Not long ago I was studying for my doctorate and it was always in the back of
my mind what employment options followed my studies. That’s why I was keen to support this new
generation of PhD students and put their research, knowledge and great minds to good use!
“I had a great day at the University of Sussex. It was fantastic meeting people who are just as
passionate as I am about turning a strong educational background into a successful career. Let’s
keep this momentum going!”