Written by Anastassia Pogoutse

A major source of frustration for freshly-graduated job seekers is job descriptions asking for industry experience. For those immersed in academia, this can be hard to get. LSCDS’s Industry Team Case Study (ITCS) gives trainees the opportunity to gain experience in completing industry-relevant projects before they go out into the job market. This initiative was developed in collaboration with the Science Career Impact Project (SCIP). SCIP seeks to help science trainees pursuing careers in industry develop the skills they need to distinguish themselves and succeed. Launched in 2015, ITCS had a very successful pilot program and has been growing ever since.

What is it?

ITCS is a 4-month program in which a team of three-to-five students works with a facilitator from industry to research a topic of interest. The topics address issues that might be relevant to an industry employer, such as “What is the probability that Drug A will meet regulatory approval in Canada?”. At the end of the program cycle, teams deliver a presentation to an industry panel.

The process

Those interested in the program must complete an application form where they indicate their area of interest and submit a resume. Teams are matched with a facilitator who has expertise in their area of interest. The teams then define a research goal or thesis, decide on the research methods and resources they will use, and select the audience for whom their report is intended. Teams conduct self-directed research with the guidance of their facilitator over the following two months. At the end of the program cycle they present their findings to the other participants and facilitators. The teams also have the option of summarizing their findings in a report.

What topics do the teams focus on?

Participants can focus on topics in the areas of medical affairs, regulatory affairs, business development, and other related areas. Research may focus on analyzing market events, clinical data, regulatory and reimbursement filings and approvals, or commercialization potential.

The response

Following the pilot program, over two thirds of participants reported overall satisfaction with the program, giving it a score of 4 or higher on a 5-point scale. Participants gained detailed knowledge about important aspects of their chosen professions. These included

  • the different stages of clinical trials and analysis of clinical data
  • the process of filing a patent
  • the regulatory approval process for drugs in Canada

Participants also reported that the program improved their teamwork, and oral/written communication skills. One participant mentioned that “meeting other students with similar career interests” was one of their favourite parts of the program.

In addition to the skills participants develop during the program, the final reports submitted by the teams can be used to supplement job applications. Several also planned to publish their final reports on online blogs. For an example of a final deliverable from an ITCS team, see this report assessing a potential new therapy for HIV.

Written by LSCDS Exec Member Anastassia Pogoutse

Ana is a PhD candidate in the Department of Biochemistry, pursuing her research in the lab of Dr. Trevor Moraes. She is interested in careers in science writing and R&D. Find her on LinkedIn here or follow her on Twitter.