Xiang LiAnalytical Scientist, SEQENS

Can you describe your career path and how it has led to your current work?

I recently graduated from Brandeis with a Ph.D. in Chemistry and I’m currently in my first job as an analytical scientist at a pharmaceutical company. The work I did in my grad school was focused on the synthesis and characterization of organic materials. My knowledge set combines organic synthesis and data analysis, which helps me understand my work better. My routine work includes method development on purification and analysis of lipids and polymers with various analytical skills. Being able to analyze the data and rationalize the results is the most satisfying moment of my day. The training I had at Brandeis in the chemistry department  prepared me well with technical skills as well as good understanding of the new challenges as a scientist in industry.

What advice do you have for current students as they embark on their job search?

Be positive, be brave. Job searching can be frustrating. Other than technical skill matching, personality is the most important factor that recruiters are looking at. Being a team player and being easy to work with are more important than you might think. Reach out to your resources and start talking. I have seen people reach out to my boss on LinkedIn and then get the opportunity to have an on-site interview! Opportunities are reserved for those who are prepared!

What skills from your Brandeis degree have you found most valuable in your current work?

The skill of conducting research and data analysis turned out to be the most valuable as a scientist in industry. Although knowing how to use various instruments is an advantage, learning quickly and keeping up with new challenges are the most important to grow and have potential. The experience I had in grad school trained me as a research scientist, which helps me be ready to solve new problems and propose new solutions for my work.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently as a graduate student that may have made the transition to your career easier?

I would think about my career path earlier and start to prepare for it. Finding an internship or other research opportunity, networking more on conferences and seminar talks so that I have more information to make decisions and more resources to investigate. It’s never too early to think about career development!