How do I market a Biology degree for non-related internships?
February 20, 2014 1:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm a sophomore biology major but I want to get internships in consulting firms or pharmaceutical companies, both of which are coming to my school tomorrow for career fairs. Unfortunately, I'm a biology major which isn't necessarily the most marketable major in the world. My experience is mainly through clinical research and I held three jobs last summer but none of them are related to the internships I'm looking for.

I went to a career fair for startups as a practice for tomorrow and talked with an energy consulting firm, but I don't think my pitch was very strong. It was basically "hi I'm a sophomore at (school)" then proceeded to talk about my time in summer regarding my three jobs... bad idea, not sure if I was well received. It doesn't help that I don't have leadership titles, although I try to convey the leadership-like things I do in work.

I already have some interviews for consulting firms lined up, but I'm not sure how they're going to go especially since I don't have too much experience in the field.

Suggestions on what to say? There are several companies I'm really interested in but I'm worried that my major and lack of business experience is going to hurt.
posted by JYuanZ to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think major matters much, especially for a sophomore (I mean, how many classes have you even taken in your major at this point?). A lot of companies (especially pharmaceutical companies) will see biology as more desirable than, like, Communications or Business, because it's perceived as being more difficult.

Likewise, I don't know that they're looking for your leadership qualities - you're going to be an intern. You're not going to be doing a whole lot of leading!

What skills do you have that these companies would find useful? Think about ways your experience in clinical research applies to the work you would be doing at these companies (problem solving? dealing with patients/customers/clinicians? I don't know what you did).

Quit angsting about your major. If you're thinking about changing it, that's fine, but you're not going to do that tonight.
posted by mskyle at 2:19 PM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Definitely not going to change it.

I've learned a lot about time management, efficient working, identifying problems and finding sure solutions, working with a whole wide scope of people... I'm just not sure how I should tie all that in when introducing myself in a career fair.
posted by JYuanZ at 2:23 PM on February 20, 2014

Asking intelligent questions is generally a good strategy.

As for biology, specificallly, and how to make it relevant to the employers, some things to ponder? What is biology, abstractly? Why is biology (and chemistry) a discipline when basic physical principles underly everything biologists (and chemists) study? What does the study of biology have in common with the things consulting companies get paid to do?
posted by Good Brain at 10:29 PM on February 20, 2014

My major and my current line of work aren't very related, but it turned out well for me.

During my job interview, I was asked what type of job I was looking for, and I just answered him in a straightforward manner. I said that I wanted to work for that particular industry even if it wasn't directly related to my major.

Think about skills you've picked up while being a biology major and relate it to the nature of work you are applying. For instance, being in biology might have taught you to be attentive to details and that skill will be useful for troubleshooting issues or problems in your desired type of work.
posted by Carmine Red at 11:06 PM on February 20, 2014

You need to have a short pitch for when you introduce yourself to the recruiters. I recommend the book, 60 Seconds and You're Hired.

The job fair is where you smile, hand them a resume, ask them some questions:

1. What kinds of positions are you hiring for?

2. Who are your most successful interns?

3. What is your selection process for interns?

In your pitch, you're going to want to answer the questions, "why do you want to work for us?" So have that nailed down.

I'm a biology major and I want to get an internship in a pharmaceutical company because....

After that, it's a numbers game. Wait for the interview to discuss what you've learned about time management, efficient working, identifying problems, etc.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:57 AM on February 21, 2014

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