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Healthcare & STEM Careers Forum - Update

  • 28 February 2019

The speakers from left to right: Dr Niamh Cosgrave, Dr Siobhan Mulhern-Haughey, Hazel Allen, Dr Marie Barrett WITS, Laura McGloin, Tina Coleman, Susan Treacy, Julie Hogan WITS Chair

Healthcare & STEM Careers Forum 16 February 2019

We want to thank everyone who attended our WITS Life Science Career forum held at Science Gallery Dublin. The purpose of the forum was to inform students and graduates with life science qualifications of the many career options available to them and to provide a platform for people to network and meet the speakers to get advice and tips.

The speakers (above) offered advice on better understanding roles in specific areas such as Diagnostics & Biomedical Science, Academia PhDs, Pharma and Clinical Trials. The speakers also provided an overview of the many possibilities having a STEM career can offer and better understanding how transferable skills from a STEM qualification can open doors to other industries. Thanks to our speakers

  • Susan Treacy – Owner, Treacy Healthcare Consulting
  • Dr Niamh Cosgrave, PhD – Director of Sales & Marketing, MedLab Pathology
  • Hazel Whelan - Pharma Manager at Recruitment Plus
  • Laura McGloin – Chemical Analyst, State Laboratory Ireland
  • Tina Coleman - Laboratory Manager, Beacon Hospital
  • Dr Siobhán Mulhern-Haughey, PhD - Scientific Knowledge Manager, Janssen.

Susan Treacy began by laying out the many and various roles in healthcare and biomedical science. Many of the roles, while in industry, satisfy the need that some people with these qualifications have to feel connected to the patients, to help and to to provide real and impactful improvement in outcomes for patients. This is done in many ways such as access to improved diagnostics and communication of scientific research and information to the field.

Dr Niamh Cosgrave spoke about the pros and cons of doing a PhD in academia or industry, and how to take your PhD to boardroom. Hazel Whelan reminded us that we could be working for 50 years so have time for more than one career, or more than one career pyramid. She spoke about how the job market is split into three parts - the obvious job market, the hidden job market (accessed through professional organisations or networking) and the really hidden job market of internal promotions or contacts.

Laura McGloin talked about her own experience of recognising how she could use her transferrable skills to scale the career pyramid, going from a pharmaceutical science degree to working in a lab in HP, then bringing her lab experience to an analyst role in the State Laboratory.

Tina Coleman pointed out the many opportunities and roles in Quality and the passion and enthusiasm everyone on the panel had for their jobs. Irish STEM qualifications are very well regarded abroad and offer very rewarding and interesting areas to work in.

Finally Dr Siobhan Mulhern-Haughey talked about how her career story had gone in different directions, and even apparently stalled while she prioritised her family. She discussed too how her "breakthrough roles" that she identified as a Clinical Trial Project Manager and Medical Scientific Liaison had brought her to her current position as a Scientific Knowledge Manager.

After the presentations was the Q and A panel. This was both engaging and informative. It offered the audience the opportunity for questions to be asked of the panel of speakers. We were delighted that the audience wholly embraced this opportunity. There were many areas explored, discussed and questions answered throughout including questions regarding the academic route, careers for the attendees, how to better engage with our community in STEM and also in relation to navigating personal responsibilities. Other questions included - how to evaluate options? How to know the best avenue? How to get a PhD? What if the choice is ‘wrong’? How to manage a busy career with personal commitments? How to better engage with the STEM community in Ireland and how to network?

We would like to thank the speakers for giving their time to the day but more to the audience for embracing the spirit of the forum and helping to make the day a success. We have had many queries around availability of the slides and presentations and they are available. please click on the speaker names above to see their slides. Again, we thank everyone involved and we would encourage you to join WITS, get involved with your STEM community and begin your networking journey.

Key message from the Careers Forum

  • A STEM degree is a fantastic foundation for a career as it's easier to add business, HR or other qualifications to your STEM degree than it is to add a STEM qualification to a business degree.
  • The same degree can take you to many different places. Don't feel pigeon-holed or constrained by your choice.
  • Think of your career as a pyramid rather than a ladder. It has a much broader base and many more routes to the top. Even if a job isn't exactly what you were looking for, it may take you to your goal via a different route.

So why do a STEM degree? It can take you anywhere. It makes a difference in the world. It's a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Don't give yourself a hard time if you take a sideways move or take time out for whatever reason. Just stay in the game, pause and regroup, then pick another direction that looks interesting.

Participant feedback (thanks to Susan Callaghan)

I attended your careers event today and was so inspired by the speakers. I am currently in the third year of my PhD in chemistry at TCD and am trying to make the jump to industry. I got some great advice today so thanks so much for organising the event.

Thanks to Science Gallery Dublin for supporting this event with WITS. All photographs by Yvonne Ryan Photography.