It’s been a long journey. I’m finally arrived at a place where I wanted. I still remember the days when I spent my biochemistry class to trade bank stocks. Who knew that after 10 years in the hard sciences, I now get to learn everything to evaluate biotech stocks from one of the best research firms in the world.
Chapter 1. How to get to the investment side
It’s not unusual to see confused faces when you tell fellow scientists how you are interested in the junction of basic sciences and investment. I see that as a good thing, since not everyone has figured out what they want to do after graduate school. Many of us stumbled on grad school without realizing the terrible post-grad job market. There is a clear oversupply of PhD holders in sciences, while many of us want to pursue a long-term career in academia. It’s just unrealistic that all of us would become professors with our own labs. Some of us have figured out the poor prospect. If you look at my cohort in the Microbiology department at the University of Chicago, 3 of 6 dropped out.
Despite the recent spike in career development programs, the rollout of these programs are still at infancy. The MyChoice program at the University of Chicago has organized some powerful tools to integrate workshops, internships and seminars into grad school. But at the end of the day, the existing internships did not seem to matter much when I tried to find the next career step in biotech investment. There seems to be a clear lack of understanding and effectiveness in obtaining necessary skill sets to help grad students in the job market. Over the last few years, I have continued to shift my focus toward investment, with the fantastic Strategy Laboratory class at the Booth school of business (this class really got my business interest spinning), then Chicago Innovation Mentors, Chicago Innovation Exchange (Now: Polsky Exchange) Innovation Fund, Aspire Capital Partners and Hillhouse Capital. Now that I look back at my past experiences, I was soul-searching during grad school. Each internship experience was effectively a way for me to fine-tune my career paths and goals. The Strategy Lab offered great insights by working with AbbVie, then the other programs furthered my interest in evaluating both private and public biotech companies.
You may find my previous paragraph contradicting itself. You may ask that since I was able to figure out what I want to do after grad school from internships, then why do I not find the career development program effective? When I look at the internships and seminars from the MyChoice program, they were more of a “hobby” or “fun classes after school”. The program is a great idea but the steps to acquire necessary experience and skill sets are not clear. The BSD career advisor arm was also not that helpful. I was more of their trial product in the finances, since there is not a lot of prior students crossing the line between biotech and Wall Street.
The question is, how can I cross the wall to investment?