20something profile: Melanie
I graduated from Coventry University in summer 2012 with a 2.1 (Honours) in Biomedical Science and have a career plan to become a medical writer. Throughout my 3 years at university, we were constantly reminded of the difficult job market awaiting us, but it was inevitable we would have to enter this real world eventually.
I applied for hundreds of jobs throughout the last few months of university, ready to have a job waiting for me to start the day after my last exam, but this is not how university and getting a job works. I attended interviews across the country for jobs that were even slightly related to my degree, spending the last of my overdraft on a trip to remote Yorkshire where I interviewed for a very promising role, only to be turned down due to a ‘lack of experience within the area’.
Eventually, after securing a temporary role, I had to return to my home town due to family illness and take a sales role in a local village for a company that sells garden buildings (yes, I now sell sheds with a science degree). However, this turn of events has not stopped me pursuing my dream career as a medical writer, only convinced me that I should not give up and that there is more than one route to every goal.
The stumbling block to beginning my career has been the catch-22; having a lack of experience, I cannot get a job without experience. There are currently many vacancies for medical writers; I receive a large number of job website e-mails each morning with medical writing roles. Although 99% are for more senior positions, there are occasionally entry level roles which require a PhD or sufficient experience.
I personally feel that graduates should be given more chances; for example, if companies were to promote from within, it would open up more opportunities to new graduates who are willing to work up from the very bottom in their dream career if they were given half the chance. This also makes sense in a financial sense, as these graduates would be willing to accept a lower wage than adding more experienced writers to a team.
Within medical writing and medical communications, having a PhD is essential. The first step I am taking towards this is getting my masters. While I cannot currently return fully to university, I am going to do this through the Open University so that I can complete one module per year; this will also enable me to continue working full time.
I have also started a blog (http://mjmulberrywriting.wordpress.com/) to document my journey and perseverance to starting my career in medical writing in the hope to also receive knowledge and feedback from people in the medical communications industry. Once I am settled within my career, I will also be able to use the compiled blog to help those in the future get started on their career path.