Tom Doherty studied BSc Psychology and MSc Applied Cognitive Neuroscience, graduating from Sheffield Hallam in 2013. He now works as an Operational Scientist for an organisation that provides cognitive assessment software for clinical trials, academic research and healthcare provision. Employment Adviser Caroline Hanson catches up with him to find out more about his current role, and the opportunities open to graduates with an interest in neuroscience.
What does your current job involve?
My current role involves a number of things but is predominantly concerned with putting together scientific proposals for a range of pharmaceutical companies in order to convince them of the science behind products for use within their latest clinical trials. My role also includes surveying the data collected from a scientific point of view for a broad range of ongoing trials, in areas such as cardio-vascular safety to the latest clinical trials in Alzheimers disease, and highlighting any unwarranted data points.
Before my current position I worked as an unpaid research assistant at Hallam following on from my research undertaken at Masters level, I then came to the company I am working in at a more junior position and was promoted to my current role after 3 months.
What factors do you think helped you to secure your current position?
Factors that helped were writing up my research for publication and reading a vast number of journal articles from both my study, research post and previous role in this company. After I qualified, I found that the job market for neuroscience graduates is really tough, the main career paths of research and clinical work can feel like all there is. I would say that there are industry posts out there you just have to look a lot harder for them. It took me a full year to find this post but it was worth the perseverance.
What was the selection process like for your role?
The selection process for the role included three interviews which included a presentation; two face to face interviews and a brief chat with two members from the board, I would stress that this will not usually be the case, but this company is fairly small in comparison to many others. In order to prepare I read up a lot on the company and prepared mock answers to potential questions along with being well versed in what I had been doing previously.
How do you use skills and knowledge gained from your course in your current position?
The key thing for me was the research I did as part of my course, because ultimately, whether you go into industry, research or clinical lines of work, this is what you will be judged on from a scientific viewpoint. These are the skills which I have used most in my role and essentially you want to find answers to questions no matter what role you are in.
What advice would you Neuroscience students interested in your career area?
To decide which of the three streams of work you are most suited to and are most interested in, read as many current papers on a broad a range as you can, but most importantly pick your research topic well. By doing this you can do something that is new or innovative and likely to get you noticed or even better published, this will help you stand out and that is what, in my opinion, employers are looking for.