Transitions – an update! Part 2

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When I left off in part 1, I was confused about my career options and had a feeling that none of my career plans were compatible with my desire to live in Yorkshire near my family. I felt helpless, and had turned to the Transitions programme for help.

Around this time, I applied in desperation to a medical writing job based in Cheshire. It wasn’t really what I wanted, and as they told me about the working hours at the interview I realised that I would not be able to commute there from Leeds as I had hoped. I also had doubts about the ethicality of the job – it had a heavy emphasis on marketing of drugs to customers, rather than honest reporting of the science behind those drugs. I think they liked me, but I called them that evening to withdraw my application. I wasn’t at all sure I had done the right thing, and I felt as lost and helpless as ever.

My first port of call was a careers interview with Rachael Roberts at Newcastle University Careers Service. Talking to someone about my fears helped clarify my thoughts, and I came away feeling certain that I needed to find a job that was near my family, even if it meant compromising on the type of job I could do. However, Rachael also helped me to see that there were more opportunities out there than I had previously imagined, and gave me lots of ideas about how to broaden my job search and identify more opportunities. Armed with this information, and with a new-found optimism, I set to work thoroughly researching the job market in the region.

At the same time, I joined up with Transitions. Now, alongside my existing job searching I was being set fortnightly assignments that forced me to consider my career priorities, motivations and goals, and explore my skills and aptitudes in detail. This meant I was able to quickly identify career options that suited me and focus my efforts in the right places. It also helped me to realise I had made the right decision in turning down the job in Cheshire; ‘ethics’ topped my personal list of ‘core values’ that influence my happiness in a job. Transitions also meant that, when an interview was offered at short notice, I was well prepared with a selection of anecdotes detailing my skills, and I truly understood how my strengths, experience and desires related to the job I had applied for. I knew the job was perfect for me; I knew I was perfect for the job. This confidence helped me immensely at interview.

The day I received the email alert from Covance telling me that a medical writer position had opened up in their Leeds office, I was overjoyed. It was a one-in-a-million opportunity with a huge multinational organisation, and it was right in the heart of my home town! And, of course, I had been quietly preparing for a medical writing career for the past two years, so I was able to present a strong CV that really showed my dedication.

And the rest, as they say, is history! I am now busy house-hunting and putting my affairs in order in the lab. There is so much to do – I’d forgotten how stressful relocating could be! But once this is over, I should be settled and (fingers crossed) might never need to relocate again. I’ve lost my dream academic career – but I’ve gained my life back. I think I’ve made the right decision, but only time will tell.


2 thoughts on “Transitions – an update! Part 2

    robert cleverley said:
    14/12/2010 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks for a great article, very interesting as I have been contemplating medical writing for a while but am still a bit hazy about what it entails. I would be fascinated for more details as to how you felt more comfortable with the “ethics” of the role in Leeds vs the role in Cheshire. Does this mean the company in Leeds were more forthright about how they honour ethical standards and ensure scientific data are rendered?


      michelle1982 responded:
      15/12/2010 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Robert. Yes, you’ve got it just right: the company in Leeds had a strong policy to avoid misrepresentation of data and to allow employees to refuse to write anything they aren’t 100% comfortable with. They described it to me in a very serious and sober manner, and I felt that they took this policy seriously. The other company seemed to regard the company guidelines on this matter as an inconvenience and were rather dismissive about it, and they hinted to me that I should expect to be asked to write things I did not agree with. I wasn’t willing to do that.
      If you want to know more about medical writing, there is a brilliant guide to the field available on the internet by a medical writer called Annick Moon. You can see it here .


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