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Friday, June 25, 2010


It's been a pretty uneventful Friday in terms of work but since I have to stay until 5:30 to meet a friend for some ice cream, I figured I should do some blogging and blog stalking to kill the time for a couple of hours.

Generally, I hate to be stuck in the "future work prospect" conversations but lately I've been having alot of those and it's giving worries about what I want to do with my life. A few days ago at an intern lunch, some of the co-interns shared their work experiences and future career goals. They all seemed to be on the same standard track: graduate school of pharmacy or medical school, PhD, and then either go into research or clinical. Most likely, I'll have to follow the same track if I want to land on a decent job down the line, but looking ahead from this point in life, the process seems so dreadful. It's pretty much a three fold repeat of college admissions, and each set of stairwell is more treacherous than the one before, and at any point in time you can fall off and your dreams are crushed just like that... I don't know if I'm fit for that... and I keep telling myself that I still have at least two years to decide what I really want to do, but after two years, what if I'm still as in decisive as I am now?

And going back to that whole spiel about how pharmacy is bad, here's part two of that rant. First off, I'm only doing the brainless procedural work and there is nothing intellectually stimulating about this job. As an intern, basic lab work is fine, but I wouldn't want to be doing this for the rest of my life. Of course I can hope to become the brain of the operation after graduating college, but here's a rough rundown of the job hierarchy here:

people who do the slave work: phD scientists (~20% of the company), associate scientists (20%), the cubicle people (~15%), the animal technician people (~20%), interns (~5%)

the more important people: lead scientists (~15%), management (~5%) , the boss (CEO)

So... chances are I'll still be doing slave work after 10 years. And this is only the stats for AVEO, at bigger companies like Pfizer and Novartis the distribution is even more skewed. Today, we had a former employee coming back to visit from his new home in San Diego. He told us that the biotech industry in the West Coast resemble factory assembly lines where 90% of the biotech companies are devoted to single processes such as creating cell lines, making certain antibodies, etc. At least now I have the privilege of switching off between animal work and lab work, I can't imagine how terrible it must be to repeat the same work everyday.

My second concern is about the integrity of the industry. After reading this I was just completely appalled by the lack of standards and fraud control in the industry. Along the same line, there was a recent news about how some big pharma company rejected a Stanford research professor's publication that could potentially cure diabetes only because its current treatment plan is more profitable. The things people do for money these days!

So with pharmacy out of the question I still don't know what I want to do. Going into the research seems to be the more realistic option right now, especially oncology research, it's interesting despite the cycles of pipeting/waiting associated with the lab work... maybe I should start emailing professors about working in their labs next semester. In terms of career options, I'm still undecided. I've always thought that the perfect job is to be a stay-at-home-mom. Thus far, it still stands at that.

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