Joining the Work Force – MedComms Style
Being a brand new graduate can be rough at the best of times. No matter how starry eyed and boosted you are by your recent educational experience, it is highly likely you are not quite ready to leave your university bubble and be thrown out into the real world. Because now you have to job hunt.
The particularly savvy may well have initiated this process early on but it’s still not the most fun thing to have to do. Producing a CV that is stunning but not too immodest is a tall order and interviews can be a harrowing experience for even the most confident.
Establishing yourself in that first professional role can be tricky (those who make it look easy are figments of your masochistic imagination). For instance breaking into a niche industry like medical communications is downright difficult. But worry not, we’re here to help.
Over the past year we have noticed that there’s something of a talent shortage at the 1-3 years of experience level in the medical communications industry. Rather than sit around and worry about this concerning trend, we wanted to be proactive and do something to help. That is precisely why we rolled out the MedComms Professionals Assessment Centre!
The Assessment Centre has been carefully designed to give junior candidates a taste of how an agency operates and also give them a chance to show off their potential. We take the time to identify the most promising life science graduates and put them through their paces with a writing test and other tasks including a presentation and a leadership exercise. Afterwards we provide plenty of feedback in order to identify areas for development and gain that competitive edge over others applying for the same roles in Med Comms.
This coming Thursday, another select group of hopefuls waiting in the wings of the industry will get their chance to demonstrate why they are the ones, who in three years’ time (with a little bit of luck), will be the hot candidates every agency will be clamouring to hire be they writers or account handlers.
To give you a better idea of the type of questions we bombard our prospective graduates with, it seemed fair to answer one myself.
Describe a situation where you had to utilise your presentation skills:
Presentation skills can be comprised of a wide subset of abilities: maintaining eye contact, having confident posture, projecting your voice and keeping it clear and ensuring familiarity with your subject matter.
It can take you by surprise quite how useful they are and how often you put them to use. I’ve delivered presentations for work and throughout the course of my education. What made all the difference to me was the smattering of stand up I did way back when. You not only get used to delivering your own content but how to respond when you’re met with stony silence. It’s also easier to predict the response when the audience is (hopefully) sober.
I’m definitely not a medical writer. While I could give you a few tips on knocking a writing test out of the park, I don’t want to spoil the surprise for our candidates on Thursday. However, I’m always happy to dispense advice on writing in general:
- Edit. The first draft of whatever you’ve written is going to be terrible. Chop it to bits and stick it back together into some vague form of coherence
- For someone like me, who compulsively collects clauses as some involuntary hobby and can apparently hardly bear to use a full stop, one of the best things to try and do is shorten one’s sentences (oh dear)
- Think about the audience for whom you are writing and don’t stuff your lines with jargon. No matter how sophisticated you think it makes you sound
- Spellcheck is your friend but it won’t catch everything. Use a fine tooth comb to root out every word you didn’t mean to use and instances of the wrong your or too. If you want to spare yourself a little mortification that is
Then again, you should probably never pay too close attention to anyone else’s edicts when it comes to writing. To sadistically paraphrase Somerset Maugham, there are three rules for writing a blog. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.