Yup, this is the end! Well, not that end, but the end of my journey as a digital ambassador at KI and official blogger for this fantastic Joint Master’s programme in Molecular Techniques in Life Science (well, that never ceased to be a mouthful!).
This has been quite a rollercoaster of a year for me, at a personal, academic and professional level, and I have yet to fully figure out what comes next. Spoiler alert – unlike most of my classmates – I’m actually one of the few who still hasn’t gotten the job (i.e. got a few job offers over the summer, just not the right one yet) lined up after graduation.
I used to think that I could plan my whole life out but ever since my hospitalization back in late April, I realized that I had to shift some of my priorities and put more focus on what actually really mattered to me – not status, not prestige, not some big paycheck, but a deeper source of meaning and value creation through my work and various endeavours. Well, needless to say, over the course of months of interviews and dead-ends, I’ve become a bit disillusioned by the entire recruitment process at most industrial companies (biotech and pharma) I have applied to and instead have decided to switch gears to a more impactful career path – the nonprofit world of policy advisors. I’m currently interviewing for a few positions within the Effective Altruism (EA) global community, as well as non-profit organizations advising politicians and companies on biosecurity or AI safety issues.
Not many people talk about these alternative careers within the life sciences so I decided I must be the bearer of good news and announce to the masses the exciting prospects of a career in policy making and advising. Although I now hold a strong technical background and expertise in biotechnology and bioinformatics (acquired through our programme), many times I still feel that my communication-, people-, and other soft-skills are madly underutilized and underappreciated by the academic and corporate institutions most of us MTLS graduates will end up landing our first jobs at. For this reason, I wanna be the exception to the rule and show you that you can also seek more meaningful, and perhaps “scary-at-first-sight”, type of careers outside of academia and industry. I’m referring to careers such as consultancy, scientific writing and publishing, policy-making, policy-advising, and even philanthropic non-profit entrepreneurial work.
Over the summer, I started my own for-good for-profit company here in Sweden, all thanks to the support of the well-established resources and entrepreneurial advising centers across the Stockholm region. If you, yourself, see a future in entrepreneurship, I’m here to tell you you don’t have to be in the Bioentrepreneurship programme to pursue this path post-grad. If you are willing to learn and have a background in technology like most MTLS grads do, then this is a path that’s accessible to you!
Likewise, you can invest your time post-grad into starting your own non-profit organization – there’s actually an EA-funded charity entrepreneurship incubator program that is now open for applications, and if you get in, it will teach you everything you need to know about being a co-founder! Your background in bioethics from the MTLS course discussions and assignments, as well as your understanding of issues such as AI safety, engineered pandemics, or genetic data privacy can make you extremely well-versed and capable of tackling these neglected global issues via a non-profit organization.
You see, I think that all these things, all these jobs that most of us MTLSers will end up applying for after graduation, they require skills that can always be learnt while on the job. The real question that I’ve been asking myself – and I pose to you now – is to consider you own personal fit to these roles. Because – not all of us are wired and built to enjoy working in a lab, or to spend countless hours in front of our computers, or to work in a fast-paced stressful environment like a pharmaceutical company, etc.
Nahh – some of us are actually better off using our MTLS-given skillset and previous background on more relevant and fitting positions, be it whether you like being your own boss, or wearing several different hats and juggling many things simultaneously (uuuh, ME?!) or you simply want to work on your own research idea without the pressures of academic publishing or industry profit lines, maybe you would be better off looking into these alternative careers I have been alluding to. Why not look around and explore different options before you settle for a less suitable position than you are worthy of?
I also want to conclude my time here as an MTLS spokesperson by saying that it’s okay to change the dreams you once had (from the time before your arrival in Stockholm, before studying at KI), and instead let them evolve into something new, something that makes more sense for the you that you are right now. If you’re not growing and learning from all the rotten tomatoes life throws at you, then you are definitely worse off than all of us – we, who are out here trying to figure out what it all means in the greater context of our own little piece of life’s thrilling sequence of serendipitous moments.
I may have been lost but I have also been found many a times before, and I cannot wait to lose myself again in all the possibilities and endless opportunities that I’m sure the universe has in store for me. I can only wish you and the rest of MTLSers exactly the same!
Peace out! It’s been a pleasure!
Lots of love,
P.S. – Major shoutout to the entire DA team for always being so wholesome and patient and incredibly hilarious every time the gang was all together! You have made this job fun and rewarding beyond measure! A special thank you also to Ulrica, Jenny, and Tom for always being in my corner. Love you guys!
Hej! My name is Francisca. I come from the faraway land of the supreme maple syrup, aka Canada. I’m the blogger for the Master’s Programme in Molecular Techniques in Life Science at Karolinska Institutet. I love to write about my experience as a student in my programme, a newcomer to Stockholm, and a rookie at life in general. In my free time, I enjoy playing tennis, making music, sketching the city’s landscapes, and reading about anything and everything that interests me.