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Tips from 2 Interns on Navigating the Biotech Industry with a Business or Communications Background

Entering the biotech and pharma industry can be intimidating, especially without having a background in science. Questions like “Does biotech have different rules than other industries that I should know about?” or “Am I even qualified to work in this field?”  can make it feel impossible to go down this career path without having prior knowledge.

We’re Anne-Sophie and Tori, and we were recently introduced to the biotech industry as interns at LifeSci Communications. By the end of this blog post, we hope to reassure anyone who is considering entering the biotech industry without a science background.

Upon joining the social media team at LifeSci Communications, we were introduced to the various rules and regulations of the biotech industry in relation to social media and joined several new projects right away. We spent a large portion of our first weeks Googling the terms that we were hearing in meetings, doing our best to give off the impression that we knew what we were doing and that we deserved to be here. We researched clients endlessly, trying to learn everything we could about biotech, and yet, every day there was new terminology or industry standards to digest.

As we write this now, almost six weeks into the internship, we can confidently say that we feel much more at home in the biotech industry than when we started. Although six weeks may not seem like a long time and we still have a lot to learn, we wanted to share a few key insights that helped us become comfortable in the biotech sphere.

  1. Learn and understand rules and regulations

One critical item to note when working with biotech clients is understanding what can and cannot be disclosed in public-facing social media posts. As many clients are currently in the early stages of pipeline development, it is important not to promise any particular claim about a drug candidate or other product in development to patients or to other audiences, but instead to provide an accurate description of developments made with the product candidate to date.

  1. Research disease states and your clients’ relationships to them

As many of our day-to-day tasks revolve around specific diseases and the development of therapies, diagnostics, devices or other product candidates to serve people living with those diseases, becoming familiar with common medical terminology has been an essential part of creating content for clients’ social media channels. While some clients focus on common diseases that are familiar to most, some of our clients are developing treatments for rare, complex or poorly understood diseases that need to be addressed just as urgently.

Along with becoming familiar with the diseases and conditions that clients focus on, it is also important to research and develop a thorough understanding of their missions and goals. Exploring clients’ objectives allows us to get a feel for their preferences before generating content for their social media accounts.

  1. Never be afraid to ask questions

Overall, the most valuable strategy that we have found throughout this process is simply asking questions. The most beneficial feedback comes from the experts on our team who have extensive knowledge about everything that goes on behind the scenes. Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking to ask questions. It may make you feel like you’re not qualified to be in your position, or you may feel like it is a sign of weakness. We can assure you that neither is the case! Asking questions is the best way to learn new information and to grow as an employee, especially in the biotech industry, because it is constantly evolving.

The most significant thing we’ve taken away from this experience is that even without science backgrounds, we can occupy well-earned roles in the biotech industry. Even though some projects may take a bit more research and questions than expected, we were nonetheless able to complete everything assigned to us this summer. If you are interested in working in the biotech industry but may not feel qualified, we urge you to give it your best shot using the tips we covered. Biotech is one of the most exciting and educational lines of work to be in, and no one should hold themselves back out of fear!

Graphic created by: Autumn Von Plinsky