With doors barely opened to the 106th AACR annual meeting in Philadelphia, the Cancer and Biomedical Research Career Fair located at the sunny Broad Street Atrium was abuzz with activity.
Although most of the 3,500 who preregistered for the job fair wouldn’t turn away the grand prize, an iPad Mini, or any of the other prizes being raffled off, they arrived early to find a good research job.
Attendees waited on long lines at pharma mainstays J&J/Janssen R&D) and Regeneron, as well as less household names like Juno Therapeutics and Arog Pharmaceuticals.
Hopeful postdocs and research scientists polished resumes and prepared pitches for human resources personnel from the 13 biopharmas, cancer specialty hospitals, and other institutions. “I just graduated Georgetown and have sent out 30 or 40 resumes so far with no luck,” said Bhushan Gandla of Washington D.C. “Maybe it’ll be easier meeting people here in person.”
Naturejobs manned a booth as much as a resource for job seekers as for their list of 4,000 to 5,000 life science job openings. Visitors were provided a career toolkit, a series of questions and answers about a variety of issues vexing those in transition, such as the most popular how to transition from academic to industry. Of note, a Nature staffer identified a trend toward growth in demand for food science researchers.
A sampling of job fair exhibitors found most quite pleased with foot traffic. These conference early birds would find good pickings from the event’s sponsors.
AstraZeneca said they’d come to the fair with 13 specific job openings in all phases of R&D, and were seeing mainly postdocs. That’s fine, they said, since some of those might fit into the 200 company-wide openings AZ currently has in R&D. Regeneron expressed a need for help in oncology or immunocology. Philadelphia’s own Wistar Institute was seeking to fill eight new jobs. Horizon said it was also in a hiring mode.
M.D. Anderson was also on the scene. They don’t normally exhibit at job fairs, but thought this one would deliver more targeted prospects. Assistant professor Mitchell Frederick, Ph.D., of M.D. Anderson’s head and neck surgery research, felt especially committed to this event. He bucked the trend of HR pros manning stands, and came out himself to discover bright young candidates for three immediate openings to work on newly funded projects. Dr. Frederick sought those with a strong background in cell and molecular biology, and experience with mammalian cell culture.
AACR human resources director Vern Mitchell was ecstatic about the turnout. “This year we got many more industry pharma players than in the past, which definitely brings in the traffic.” Mitchell said jobseekers were encouraged to jumpstart the fair by uploading their resumes, searching opportunities, and applying to jobs directly on the AARC microsite CancerCareers.org, which also posts job openings. This gave exhibitors instant access to attendee CV’s when they came to talk. About 2,500 resumes have been put on the site’s database so far. Mitchell hopes to double that in short order.
Preview Sunday April 19th Sessions
On Sunday, AACR kicks into high gear with a combination of educational, exhibition, and networking opportunities. Highlights include:
Fifteen Meet-The-Expert sessions from 7 to 8 a.m. including Clinical Application of NGS as a Guide to Treatment Selection and the Promise of Personalized Medicine
Early birds get the worm at the opening ceremony from 8:15-9:15 a.m.; includes four award presentations (Team Science, Lifetime Achievement, and Leadership & Extraordinary Accomplishments)
From 9:30 until 12, the opening plenary session is titled, The Genome and Beyond, chaired by Dr. Lewis Cantley, newly appointed director for the Cancer Center of Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital
A total of 28 additional sessions and 10 mini symposia, many available for CME credit, take place during the afternoon at the convention center. Thirty-eight posters will be viewable from 1 to 5pm as well
The Exhibition Hall in Hall C has its first day, with hours from 1 to 5 p.m. Bring your walking shoes: the over 400 exhibitors in 20+ rows include a wide array of companies with the latest in products and services in laboratory and clinical research.