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forest
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interview assistance
« on: Nov 15th, 2006, 4:07pm »
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I am currently finishing my PhD in mol. bio. and intend on pursuing a career in IP law. I have had interviews w/ 2 firms so far, yet did not get called back for a 2nd interview with either. I think my problem is that a) no experience- I know this is a big one; b) selling myself; and c) explaining why I want to get into IP law.
 
The first 2 can be worked on, but I have trouble explaining to the interviewers why I want to make the switch, other than offering the line of "I want to stay on the cutting edge of science but away from the bench" which, although true, doesn't seem to impress much. Other reasons include the fact that I am a good writer/analyst and do enjoy researching information. Further, I can't stand the hoops one has to jump through in order to get a good, secure job in academia. I just don't feel that the work put in is worth the meager salaries one is paid until they are 35-40 y.o. I hesitate to mention this to my interviewers, at fear of sounding money-driven, which I am not (although would like to eventually live well).
 
I have a couple more interviews on the not-so-distant horizon, and was wondering if anyone could share their answers to this question. Also, anyone in firms that is in the position of interviewer: what do you want to hear?
 
Thanks in advance for any help!!
« Last Edit: Nov 15th, 2006, 4:09pm by forest » IP Logged

"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it." ~Albert Einstein
SeanUMD
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Re: interview assistance
« Reply #1 on: Nov 15th, 2006, 9:29pm »
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I have a similar background as you.  I am receiving a PhD in immunology in a month and like you wanted out of the scientist career path for all the same reasons.  Before getting hired, when I was interviewed I told them straight from my heart why I wanted a job in IP.  I told them that I wanted to start a career in an area that I will feel a sense of self worth and that I will be rewarded for my hard work.  I told them that I was tired of working 12-14 hours a day and getting nothing out of my career as a scientist because 95% of the time that your experiments fail.  I also listed the reason that you gave (except money), but really tried to drive home the point that I am a hard worker and wanted to pursue a career where I will be rewarded for that hard work and also use my tremendous scientific background.  I hope this helps!
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Physicist
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Re: interview assistance
« Reply #2 on: Nov 16th, 2006, 9:22am »
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Hi folks,
 
I take it from your brief bio descriptions that you're not attorneys/JD's. I'm a career patent agent myself. I throw that out there to help you assess whether what I say is useful to you.
 
I made the switch from science to patent work the moment I got my PhD. I got started as a patent examiner. Recently I see posts on these pages suggesting that the patent office is not currently hiring in biotech fields ... but I haven't confirmed that. Going to the patent office first is one solid way to get some experience and ultimately the attention of law firms.
 
Regarding explaining the switch to IP from science, I didn't hesitate to explain that I wanted more money. I didn't say "more money," I used more diplomatic terms but they knew what I meant.
 
OK, so what do I have to offer that hasn't already been mentioned here?
 
I faced inquiries regarding my motivation to leave the lab, given my glowing descriptions of my own experiences as an experimentalist. I answered that, when I look at the activities of scientists as their careers advance, I see scientists ultimately sitting at computers in offices drafting documents. Let's face it, that's what most of the senior folks at research labs do. My days of actually plugging in the wires and accidentally shocking myself in the lab were numbered no matter what I did next. Had I tried to stay in the lab, ultimately I'd be writing reports, grant proposals, research papers, e-mails, responses to labor union grievances against the bold activities of my graduate students, etc. I saw the writing on the wall and decided to proactively embrace the future. I liked technical writing so I stepped directly into sitting in an office writing technical material ... first in the form of Office Actions as an Examiner, and later in the form of patent applications as a patent agent. And yeah, I skipped the low salary stage of clinging to the lab as a post-doc, assistant professor, research fellow, etc. I just went straight toward the inevitable finish line. I now sit in an office and write papers. That's what most senior scientists do.
 
So, regarding the transitions from writing a thesis to writing an Office Action (patent examiner work) to writing a patent application (patent agent work) ... wait a minute ... what transitions? It's the same job in a different office. My office no longer abuts a lab ... but an office is an office.
 
That's what I told my interviewers, and, insofar as I got jobs, it worked. My interviewers told me they'd never heard it before. I'm a physicist, I'm supposed to say things people haven't heard before.
 
My graduate advisor once told me that physics is what physicists do. Writing patent applications is now the physics I do.
 
Get it?
 
Physicist
 
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forest
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Re: interview assistance
« Reply #3 on: Nov 16th, 2006, 1:04pm »
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Thanks. Good advice from both of you. I'll definitely keep it in mind!
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"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it." ~Albert Einstein
Morfer
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Re: interview assistance
« Reply #4 on: Nov 30th, 2006, 10:45am »
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I'd like to hear some advices on how to land an interview.  I have sent out resumes to many law firms but have not heard back from them.  
 
Forest, how do you land your first interview?  Do you send out cold cover letters?  or apply to current openings in the firms?  I am in the biotech field and the market is not so good for patent agents these days.   Most of the firms are looking for patent attorneys.
 
Any insight is greatly appreciated.
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