Samantha Coates

MSc in Neuroscience (2016)

  1. What field of work are you in, and what duties are required in your position?

I work in the biotech field! I am a Senior Biosciences Account Manager for Thermo Fisher Scientific. I am expected to effectively manage a territory with revenues around $7.5M across about 150 biotech, industrial, academic and environmental companies. I sell across a large portfolio of life sciences products while also managing customer relationships. I have to respond to customer outreach and prospect for new business in order to achieve my sales goal. As a senior account manager, I also have a mentorship and onboarding responsibility for new hires!

  1. What challenges did you face when looking for work after graduating?

The biggest challenge I faced was finding something within my field (Neuroscience) that wasn’t at the bench. I absolutely loved my time at Carleton doing research. However it was not the future for me. I wanted to remain within the science community but in a role that was more focused on people. Sales hadn’t ever been a job that I had considered, so I think having a narrow view of industry coming out of academia also added to my challenges. I was very lucky though that Thermo Fisher was hiring near the end of my master’s degree and the timing really worked out well.

  1. How did you arrive at your current position?

Like I mentioned, I was very lucky to stumble into this position posting when looking for jobs. I started just over three years ago as an Account Manager and I have not looked back! I was promoted at the beginning of this year into the senior role and inherited larger accounts and additional duties in the office.

  1. What advice would you give to a graduate student looking to follow a career path similar to yours?

I think the biggest piece of advice I can give is to be open minded about what industry jobs can look like! I definitely do not feel like I am in a “traditional” sales role and I really didn’t see myself in this position when I was graduating three and a half years ago. I feel very lucky to see the advancement of sciences in such an up close way (and not have to write a single grant to do it!). It’s a very cool feeling to speak to a customer that has a therapy going to clinical trials due to products I was able to sell to them. I will say that this isn’t a job for everyone, so you need to make sure that you are competitive or driven as well as a self-starter. It is a sales job and we have to hit a quota, but the mold for sales is far less defined than one would expect. I come to work every day and am surrounded by very smart people that are very different than I am. Another piece of advice – don’t be afraid to take a business course along with your sciences ones or taking on a part-time job that involves selling to learn this new skill. At the end of the day, experience in sales will always look good on a resume.