Networking, research, and strategic tenacity are three keys to entering and thriving in the clinical research profession, a panel of experts told attendees of a recent ACRP webinar on career development.
“No matter what your background is, there is a position for you in the clinical research industry,” said Danielle Coe, CEO and founder of Black Women in Clinical Research. She encouraged potential entrants to “do your own research and join organizations like ACRP” and start networking.
Coe’s fellow panelists echoed the value of networking. “Networking is so helpful,” said Aldona DiSandro, a clinical research associate with Merck Research Labs. She advised setting up informational interviews with people you identify on LinkedIn or via industry events. “It’s a great way to see if their job is something potentially interesting to you,” she said. You should remember to thank them for their time, she added. It’s polite, and “a nice way to establish a relationship.”
Clinical trial professionals are eager to help newcomers, said Rod Walker, senior director for healthcare operations with Javarra. “There is definitely a ‘pay it forward’ mentality in this industry.”
“My in-box is always open” to those exploring careers in clinical research, Coe said. “I remember the lost feeling of not knowing who I should reach out to, or where I could find resources” in years past.
“I always encourage people to reach out to me,” DiSandro said.
“I’ve had several people already connect with me on LinkedIn during this webinar,” Walker said.
Walker also encouraged those exploring opportunities in clinical research to keep an open mind. “Don’t put yourself into a box,” he said. “There are so many different pathways” in the clinical trial industry.
“There are so many different job roles and so many different positions in clinical research,” DiSandro echoed.
Put a good resume together before you begin reaching out, Coe said. While a job search can take time, and there’s often lots of rejection to be faced along the path, when lightning strikes in the form of a potential employer reaching out to you, reaction time is a factor. “You don’t want to be fumbling around, updating your resume and LinkedIn [profile] after someone” expresses interest in you, Coe noted. Have it all ready to go for immediate delivery, she advised.
Patience is also a virtue, Walker said. “It’s a broad industry, and you aren’t going to be CEO overnight,” he cautioned. “If you put your mind to it and do the hard work,” advancement will come, but it takes time, he stressed.
“Be persistent and determined,” Coe added. “Your time will come; you’re going to get” into the clinical trial workforce if you follow the right steps and put in the effort as you search for the right door to knock on and hopefully go through.
Author: Michael Causey