Regulatory Affairs – Getting An Entry Level Position

Working in Regulatory Affairs is one of those “less well known but interesting career options”, particularly if you want to combine technical knowledge with a commercial role.

Regulatory Affairs Officers, Executives and Managers are responsible for pulling together technical, development, quality and safety information on a product, and negotiating with licencing authorities for those products which are regulated. This is particularly associated with the pharmaceutical industry (where critical information needed will also include clinical trials results) but regulated products are also found in the medical devices and chemical industries. The TOPRA (“The Organisation for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs”) website has a good description of what Regulatory Professionals do.

One difficulty, however, is often: how do you get your first post*?

You don’t often see “Regulatory Affairs Trainee” posts advertised, whether at graduate or postgraduate level. I have seen occasional “graduate trainee” posts advertised for the big pharma companies, but only sporadically.

Here are 3 strategies for finding your way into this career:

1. Start somewhere else and move sideways
This is the most common route into regulatory affairs. It’s such a wide role that having an understanding of technical development, or quality, or safety, or clinical trials could give you an awareness of regulatory frameworks and a good foundation to make a sideways move.

For those aiming at the pharmaceutical industry, TOPRA surveyed its members, asking “Please indicate the area of work of your last NON-regulatory job in the pharmaceutical industry”. It’s a really revealing list showing the routes which have led regulatory professionals into their current role. This was a 2006 salary survey in which 127 people replied. At that stage around 17% had entered Regulatory Affairs directly from university, but most had come from research, QA, QC, safety and other regulatory roles before ending up in Regulatory Affairs. Another survey of 200 UK regulatory professionals with between 2 and 5 years experience shows only 10% going into the profession straight from university. (You can see the results on a pdf, from this page on the TOPRA website on career pathways – no date given unfortunately, but the pdf dates from 2010.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if the number going straight from university to regulatory affairs roles continues to shrink. The organisations who traditionally could afford to take a chance and train up new graduates and postgraduates were the big pharmaceutical companies – and look what’s happened to them over the last 10 years. There’s still lots of employment in the pharmaceutical sector but the growth areas are in the smaller companies and contract research organisations who often want some sort of proven knowledge or experience of regulation before taking you on.

Another way of finding out how people got into their regulatory roles is to search LinkedIn profiles. You’ll need your own LinkedIn account to get access to search, and you’ll get more information on individuals’ career paths if you have some sort of connection with them (1st or 2nd degree ie you know someone who knows them; or if you are in the same group). It doesn’t mean you can randomly send out job requests to anyone you find but it could give you some ideas of alternative starting points.

2. Broaden your search terms
I searched the scientific and health jobs we’ve advertised through CareersLink over the past year, using the term “regulatory”, and found we’d advertised more jobs related to scientific regulation than I’d expected. Most of the posts working within scientific product regulation weren’t called “Regulatory Affairs Officers” or trainees. They were often safety, quality, technical or experimental officer roles – but when you read the descriptions, they could give you the experience you’ll need to make the move into a purely regulatory role later.

3. Be prepared to start at the bottom
If you haven’t got the experience needed to go straight into a regulatory affairs role, and someone else isn’t prepared to invest to retrain you, you have to decide if you’re prepared to invest in yourself.

Unless you’ve already got experience in a related role, you’re essentially a career changer, and most career changers have to move backwards to ultimately move ahead in their new career. (I know a bit about this. When I moved from a senior management role in industry to a trainee careers adviser, it took me 7 years to get back to my original salary – but I have absolutely no regrets.)

Regulation involves a lot (and I mean a lot) of admin and documentation. You may feel your PhD prepared you for more than a job generating and organising quality or safety documentation relating to regulatory control, but when you’re a senior Regulatory Consultant on ~£100K, responsible for Western Europe or Asean markets, you’ll look back and realise that investment was worth it.

Further resources
Here are a few other online resources for would-be regulatory affairs professionals:

NB. I wouldn’t recommend relying on either of these agencies (or others) for finding you an entry level post in regulation. Specialist agencies can be great once you’ve got experience. However, they’re unlikely to be very interested in you if you’re looking for a career change (why would a company want to pay an agency a fee to find someone with no relevant experience?!).

* This was partly in response to a question from “Weebz” on our Feedback page (thanks – hope it answers your query) but it’s a question I’ve been asked by several scientific postgrads when they’ve discovered that this sort of career exists.

Vacancies: PhD E-Tutors, Manchester Leadership Programme

We’re recruiting more e-tutors for our undergraduate Manchester Leadership Programme. If you have an interest in

  • sustainability in its broadest sense, whether economic, environmental or social
  • the challenges which leaders face today in all kinds of organisations
  • teaching and supporting undergraduates, using online discussions and face-to-face contact
  • taking part in novel assessment and teaching methods
  • hearing leaders talk about their experiences (Dame Ellen MacArthur was the hot ticket a couple of years ago – see more guest lecturers here)

then this could be for you.

The e-tutor roles take up an average of 5 hours a week but can vary quite widely with peaks coming at assessment time. You are paid at the GTA rate (currently £14.29 per hour). We specifically recruit PhDs for these roles as you need to be trained and ready to go before the start of the autumn term and be available for the full academic year, including attending scheduled MLP lectures (so wouldn’t suit most Masters).

Some of our recent e-tutors commented:

“I learned how rewarding teaching can be. I thought that there would be aspects I enjoyed about it, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to.”

“From tutoring on the MLP online unit; I have gained a wider outlook on life, have enhanced my tutoring abilities and developed new ones, and have had a lot of fun.”

“In terms of development for postgraduate students, the interdisciplinarity of the programme, an increasingly important factor in the research community, enables eTutors to develop transferable skills in terms of communicating and sharpening positions, both through identifying gaps in student responses but also by taking on board student positions.”

“I have learnt a huge amount of practical skills and now have more confidence in this area that will be useful in the future, and is particularly in demand for academic posts.”

If you want to read more comments from some of our e-tutors, have a look at this blog post from a couple of years ago – “What has being an MLP tutor ever done for me?“.

Further details:

Full details of the posts, including application form, are on the MLP e-tutors webpage.

The closing date is 6th August at 12 noon (we will look at all applications up until the closing date). The interviews are scheduled for 20th, 21st or 22nd August, and if you get the post, you must also be available for e-tutor training on either Monday 3rd September or Monday 17th September.

I’ve also updated some FAQs from previous MLP e-tutor posts – just click below to get some inside info.

Continue reading

2013 Graduate Schemes Start To Open

If you’re not quite ready for starting a job yet, for example, if your Masters or PhD won’t finish until later on this year – don’t miss out now. Some of the big graduate employers are already starting to look for 2013 new starters.

Here’s some sound advice from our Information Manager, Holly Seager, from our Graduate Blog:

“While there are lots of graduate jobs being advertised at the moment with immediate start dates, some 2013 graduate schemes are also opening now. These opportunities are open to graduates from previous years as well as the class of 2013. If you are graduating this summer, or have been out for a while and think you might be interested there are many reasons why it is a good idea to get in early…

  1. The opening date of a job is always more important than the closing date. Often organisations will close the opportunity without warning when they get enough quality applications.
  2. Organisations may start interviewing immediately. You might be able to get a firm job offer for 2013 within the next few months leaving you free to go travelling or take some time out.
  3. Some schemes fill up really quickly and if you don’t apply early you won’t get in at all. One example is Teach First, for the last three years they have filled their places for humanities graduates by September! Even if spaces are left on the scheme you are applying for it is always better to be interviewed when they have dozens of jobs to fill than when they only have one or two left. Every year I meet students and graduates who pass the recruitment process but are told that they are not being made a job offer as the last place has just been filled.
  4. Applications take a long time to do properly. You can do a better job if you apply to one or two a week as they open, rather than trying to send 15 all at once later in the year.

Here are a few companies advertising at the moment:

  • AECOM – starting June 2013
  • Tesco procurement graduate programme
  • Factset – this one starts January 2013
  • Teach First – starting summer 2013, or you can apply for a deferred place for 2014.
  • Clarksons (global shipping)
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Accenture – limited opportunities to join from spring 2013 in Consulting

More will be opening applications soon. Ernst and Young for instance have contacted us to say they are opening applications on July 1st. Investment banks in particular tend to open applications in the summer.

If you are interested in a particular company be sure to check their website regularly/follow them on Facebook or Twitter/sign up for email notifications so you don’t miss out. You can start researching them now and deciding which opportunities to apply for so that when applications open you can be one of the first to send a well thought out, polished application.”

Pathways – The Panels Revealed

Only a couple of days to go, and the panels and panellists have now been pinned down, barring last minute cancellations and additions (always a feature of Pathways – we just take it in our stride …).

This year, in addition to the titles of the panels and panellist profiles, our Event Manager, Anna, has put together a summary of what to expect on the panels. Personally, I think this is the best way to choose which panels to attend – more so than trying to find panellists who happen to match exactly your career aspirations or your discipline.

There are 24 panels running in total; you’ll be able to attend four panels if you come for the whole day. In response to feedback last year, we’ve reduced the number of panels by avoiding running the same panels more than once. However, we’re still expecting over 60 panellists to attend, so this does mean that you’ll have to prioritise the panels you want to see. All sessions are relevant to delegates from all disciplines, unless otherwise stated below.

So here they are, in all their diversity.

Academic roles for…..
Our panels comprise those who’ve pursued their careers within an academic context including those who have research roles and teaching positions, at all stages of progression. (Separate sessions for Humanities, EPS & FLS/MHS.)

Achieving work/life balance
For many people, their job is only a part of their life plan.  Family, personal interests and other commitments are just as important.  Our panel will talk about how they have managed to achieve a work/life balance, the compromises they may have made to make this happen, the difficulties and rewards of keeping this balance.

Communicating Science
A PhD can take you into a broad range of science communication roles -  from being a facilitator of public engagement and outreach opportunities to those involved in shaping policy.  Our panel can outline just some of these options.

Developing your skills and experience through volunteering
Our panellists have all undertaken voluntary work and will explain how you can make the most of such opportunities to improve your employability.

Industry versus Academia
Our panels will compare and contrast their experiences of working inside and outside Universities – Which have they enjoyed more? What are the benefits that each can offer? How have they moved between the two areas?

I’ve done things that aren’t related to my PhD – so can you!
Whether they planned to or simply have found themselves taking a ‘scenic’ career path, our panellists will talk about the positions they have held which are not related to their specific discipline of study.  A session for anyone who wants to change direction or simply wishes to find out what’s possible with a PhD. 

Marketing yourself and your PhD
How do you articulate the benefits of having studied for your PhD and convince employers that you have the skills they are looking for?  Our panel will draw on their own experiences and of providing skills training to PhD students to discuss how you can ensure you give yourself the edge over other applicants.

Non-academic roles in universities
Enjoy being part of a University environment but not sure you want to pursue an academic, research or teaching career?  Have you ever thought about the wide range of non-academic jobs within universities?  Come along and find out more.

Options for ……/More options for…..
We’ve brought together panellists who are connected by discipline area (separate sessions for Humanities, EPS & FLS/MHS) but who’ve followed a range of different career pathways to give you just a flavour of the options available to you.

Research roles outside universities
What are the opportunities to continue a research career outside Universities?  How do these roles differ? Where do you find them and how do you get them? Relevant for Engineering, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical & Human Sciences.

Self-employment, starting a business and enterprise opportunities
If you like the sound of being your own boss or have a great idea that could earn you a living, this session is for you.  Our panellists are a mixture of those who work freelance, have portfolio careers, have set up their own businesses or support others in developing their enterprising ambitions.

Teaching positions in HE, FE and Schools
Whether you want to stay in a University or would consider working in a school or further education college, our panel can share their experiences of following a teaching based career.

What do you do if your career isn’t going the way you want?
Our panellists have faced challenges or obstacles to pursuing their career ambitions.  They will discuss how they managed these situations, the decisions they made, what they learnt from the experiences and pass on their tips on how to stay positive when things aren’t going to plan.

Working Overseas
Panellists will talk about their experiences of pursuing careers in different countries, working cultures/environments and the advantages and disadvantages in comparison with working in the UK.

Working as a Postdoc
Our panel will talk about their experiences of working in Postdoctoral roles – the highs and the lows. Relevant for Engineering, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical & Human Sciences.

More info:
We’ve also now uploaded the final (until it changes on the day :-)Timetable of sessions (.docx file) and Panellist Profiles 2012 (.pdf file), for all those of you who like to get their day sorted beforehand.

Pathways – Get In While You Can?

We’re seriously discussing the future of Pathways, our annual PhD career options event on Friday 8th June (previous blog post here). It’s a massive event, gets great feedback from attendees, we love hearing from our panellists and we get a buzz from seeing our researchers getting excited about their future.

However, every few years, you need to review whether even successful programmes are still the right way to go.

So, this is just to forewarn you, that if you’re thinking “I’ll go next year” – there’s no guarantee it will still be there! Register now to ensure your place.

Some of the amazing things our PhDs get up to
Of course, if we didn’t run it again, we’d miss out on hearing about some of the downright unexpected things some of our PhDs get up to in their careers.

The prize for this year’s “Most unusual career path for a PhD in Atomic and Molecular Physics” goes to Patrick Tierney, who works for Leisure Technical Consultants Ltd – as an “Amusement Ride Inspection Engineer” (really hoping to hear that one).

Patrick inspecting a rollercoaster


What can you do with a Materials Science PhD?

Unfortunately, I never did get to hear last year’s winner of the “Most unusual career path for a post-doc materials scientist”, and she can’t come this year. However, it’s for the very good reason that Beth Mottershead’s cake business is going from strength to strength. If you want to drool (or order some fab cakes), have a look at her beautiful website, Cakes by Beth

Cakes by Beth

Paid P-T Jobs For PhDs: Applications Advisers

If you’re a current University of Manchester PhD who will still be here next year, do you have what it takes to be one of our Applications Advisers?

What’s an Applications Adviser?
Our Applications Advisers provide the bulk of our “Quick Query” advice for students who want help with their CVs and applications, during the Autumn rush. It’s quick fire: only 15 minutes to review a job spec and the application and give considered feedback to help the student improve – then straight on to the next one. You could be seeing CVs from any discipline, from any year – including other PhDs.

This role is part-time, initially for the first semester with the possibility of extending into the second semester, with hours varying according to levels of demand from students. Each Applications Adviser will work ideally at least two shifts of two hours per week (morning, lunchtime or afternoon) with any additional hours by agreement. The rate of pay will be £8.75 per hour.

Why do it?
It’s a much appreciated service by all those who use it, which is one of the rewards for doing the job. Another is the fact that you can help students make real improvements to their applications. Just by asking a few pertinent questions, you can help them realise that they have loads of other important information they can add to an otherwise rather “thin” CV (often it’s the best students who discount their real selling points). Frankly, I find it humbling sometimes, seeing some of the amazing things our students have already achieved (particularly you postgrads). Oh, and you get paid, of course!

Do you need experience?
You don’t have to be a careers adviser (though if there are any out there, we’d be keen to hear from you), but it would help if you had some relevant experience, such as supporting students, coaching, recruitment or HR. It also helps if you’ve already been employed, so you know what it’s like to go through the selection process. Whatever your background, you’ll go through training, observation and feedback before being let loose to advise on your own, and you’ll have ongoing support from members of the Careers Service.

Language requirements
You do need to have impeccable English communication skills, both written and spoken. However this certainly doesn’t exclude our international PhDs: many of our clients are international students and it helps to understand the challenges of writing good business English when it’s not your first language.

Why do you need a PhD – what about Masters?
It’s purely logistical. We need Advisers trained and ready to start by the first week of term, as that’s when our rush starts. We also hope to use some or all of the Advisers into the second semester. In general, this excludes both new Masters (not here for selection or training) and finishing Masters (not available after December). However, if you have the right experience and you can fit in with our logistical requirements, argue your case. (It will be a good test of writing an effective covering letter.)

I’m interested – what do I do next?

  1. Look at the vacancy on CareersLink for further information an details of how to apply. Not registered? Get registered now! You’ll need to be familiar with our services if you’re going to work for us.
  2. Talk to someone in the Careers Service about the role, ideally in person. Either call in or talk to us over lunch at Pathways, our annual careers event for PhDs on 8th June.
  3. Book time to talk to someone as part of our Quick Query service. Just tell our information staff (they’re part of the selection & training team for these roles; they also book our quick query appointments) and they’ll book you in – either call 0161 275 2829 or call in to the Careers Service in Crawford House, entrance opposite the Aquatics Centre.

Critical dates:

  • Closing date for applications: 22nd June 2012
  • Interviews: 18th & 25th July 2012
  • Training will take place: 21st & 22nd August 2012 and will be paid. You need to be available for both dates.

The Big Annual PhD Careers Event

Maybe that’s what we should have called it? However, we went with “Pathways” instead.

If you’re doing a PhD at the University of Manchester, or have recently completed one, or are a member of our research or teaching staff, do set aside Friday 8th June 2012 for our biggest PhD careers event of the year.

What is it?
It’s your chance to find out what PhD careers are really like.

When you’re booking a hotel, do you read all the glossy websites and believe what they say – or do you go to TripAdvisor and read reviews from people who’ve been there before ?

That’s the principle behind Pathways – you get behind the glossy employer websites and earnest careers information, and get to hear from others who have a PhD about the reality of careers for researchers.

You get the chance to hear from up to 4 panels of PhDs (from 3-6 people per panel) who talk about their careers so far and answer questions from delegates. You should come armed with:

  • lots of questions about careers
  • an open mind – sometimes, you get the most helpful careers advice from someone in a job you would never consider doing yourself.

When and where is it?

  • Date: Friday 8th June 2012
  • Timings:
    • Registration from 9.15
    • Welcome address from 9.45
    • Choose your panel sessions 10.30-11.00
    • Panels start at 11.00, 12 noon, 1.45 and 2.45
    • All done and dusted by 3.30pm
  • Lunch: Provided!
  • Venue: University Place

Who is eligible to attend?
Any current doctoral researcher (PhD or other doctoral degree) at the University of Manchester, and any current member of research or teaching staff at the University of Manchester can get a free place by registering in advance. If you graduated from the University of Manchester with a doctoral degree in the last three years, you are also welcome to register in the same way.

If you are a doctoral researcher from another university, please either contact your own university training team to see if they will fund a place (modest cost), or contact anna.lomas@manchester.ac.uk directly to arrange a place.

“But I’m more interested in postdoctoral research or teaching”
Come along – last year over half of our panellists had been post-docs. Some of them went on to become academics, some moved out of academia altogether. Find out how they did it!

What did previous delegates think of Pathways ?

“Such a wide range of friendly experts to talk to”
“I have a clearer picture of things ahead”
“I have new focus and inspiration!”

What’s great is that people who previously attended Pathways as doctoral researchers are now coming back to talk about how their careers have worked out – could that be you?

 

Winning Funding For Research

If you aspire to becoming an academic, this is a topic you’ll really need to get to grips with in detail. I won’t pretend I’m any sort of expert in winning research funding – but I do know people who are.

Dr. Paul Spencer, former post-doc researcher, now researcher developer at UWE, has just written a blog post about “How to win funds and influence people“. Recommended for good advice and a very snazzy embedded Prezi from his recent workshop.

Want To Be A Business School Academic?

If you’re a management or business PhD, looking for an academic job in a Business School, you might be interested in Akadeus, an agency which focuses on advertising jobs in Business Schools across the world.

There are only a limited number of jobs on there, but they do include jobs in Europe, North and South America, the Middle and Far East. You can sign up for regular e-mail alerts, as well as registering online so you’re searchable by potential recruiters. Don’t know how successful people have been with this approach (see the recent post on uploading your CV online) but given the international nature of academic recruitment, at least it’s somewhere which focuses on one discipline, but not one location.

There are more general academic recruitment websites on An Academic Career, under “How to find job ads“, but I haven’t included discipline specific sources there. If you know of other sources of academic jobs which are specific to your discipline, let me know and I’ll start to build up a list to include in future.

Many thanks to Prof Julie Froud for sharing the Akadeus resource with me, when I talked to her PhDs yesterday in Manchester Business School.

Graduate (& Postgraduate) Entry To Medicine

If you’re considering going on to study medicine as a next step, whether you’re an undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate, we’ve just released a new online Slidecast (that’s slides with audio podcast) to help you:

  • think through the options
  • understand the funding required and available
  • understand how to apply

Some of the commentary refers to undergraduates and doing medicine as 2nd degree, but the information is also aimed just as much at Masters and PhDs (and even post-docs). There isn’t any difference in terms of your options, funding or application process, other than there is one other possible source of funding for PhDs and post-docs – the Foulkes Foundation. It may seem like a long shot, but I do know of one University of Manchester post-doc who really wanted to progress into clinical research, who gained funding from this source to add a medical degree to her tally of qualifications.

So, over to our medical careers expert, Alex Langhorn, the latest recruit to our growing band of slidecasting careers consultants: