How does a graphic designer get hired in a bio-tech entry position?
December 8, 2014 10:23 PM   Subscribe

I have a solid graphic design resume. I want a job in a fermentation/life-sciences/food science firm. I recently went back to school and took some math, chemistry, and statistics to start my transition into a food science/fermentation career. I have recently moved and have found a great starting-level position I want to apply for but how in the hell do I write a resume that tells them I am serious and qualified?
posted by Foam Pants to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you worked on any design jobs even slightly related to bio-tech, or that you could spin so it looks like they were? If you worked on a campaign for a food brand, play up any research or vaguely science-y stuff. Are there aspects of your design career that could be useful in a totally unrelated field? For instance, did you ever supervise other designers, do some copywriting, handle an entire job solo? Try to think of any ways that your previous experience would be a boon, instead of a big, irrelevant nothing on your resume. There have to be some. If all else fails, you probably know a lot of programs and you have a solid history of employment.

I'd be prepared for some culture shock. Not to stereotype, but you're probably used to working with creative types and the crowd you'll be running with now will probably be of a somewhat different stripe. I'm going by own experiences a few years back, switching from alt. weekly journalism to the grungier side of health care. It was just a whole different world.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:42 AM on December 9, 2014

Well, how *are* you qualified for this position? What skills do you bring? Are those skills documented on your resume?
posted by mskyle at 9:09 AM on December 9, 2014

Response by poster: Well, I took some lab classes and did well in them. In my personal habits and in my hobbies, I am good with my hands and obsessed with getting the finer points of the process perfect. I'm very organized and work through technical processes well. I read directions to technical processes well, too. I was almost always the first done in chem lab and only once had bad data, which I was able to recognize and correct. But, how can you base a resume off of a bit of classwork and how you generally perceive your private actions? Can you quantify a self-assessed quality?
posted by Foam Pants at 12:39 PM on December 9, 2014

At this point, someone often comes in and recommends What Color is My Parachute, which pretty directly (in a somewhat indirect way) strives to answer exactly this type of situation. Basically, you're going to have to get rid of your 'typical' resume, because no amount of padding/skewing/stretching of the facts on that resume is going to get you from designer to lab tech. You have to create a different kind of resume, one that tells a new story, the story of why you're on this journey into bio-tech.
posted by Bron at 7:50 PM on December 9, 2014

Foam Pants: "But, how can you base a resume off of a bit of classwork and how you generally perceive your private actions? Can you quantify a self-assessed quality?"

This is a universal bootstrapping problem of students. The solution is usually to look for work catering to people like you: internships, and campus jobs. The "good" news is that jobs at breweries are so in demand that several local ones to me offer internship that are only 2 weeks long, just to cram more people through the system. The bad news is that they are so in demand that they are unpaid and people still apply for them.

My impression from a coworker pursuing a degree in Fermentation Science is that the competition for 'job in a brewery' is plentiful, but not always necessarily strong. Even demonstrating basic workplace skills will help get you a leg up over students with no work history to speak of. So depending on your graphic design resume, you may want to at least communicate some basic skills like 'can show up to work on time and sober,' or 'completes assigned tasks on time and under budget.'

I suppose Fermentation has its own portfolio method called homebrewing, but I know nothing about liquor production / distribution laws and so probably they do nothing more than 'I homebrew and survived / enjoyed it / its a hit at parties.' Unless you want to start your own company, self-reporting is all employers have to go on there.

But if you're only taking classes piece meal and not pursuing a degree in a related field, it will be tough to get past the people who can check boxes like 'has a degree in food science.' Good luck!
posted by pwnguin at 12:47 AM on December 10, 2014

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