Whenever the term Biotechnology comes into discussion, the majority of views question its scope, growth and job prospects. Here we have riposte to those deterring assessments. Biotechnology doesn’t involve a simple and clear career lane as with other fields, but a different strategy is required to decode the success in this arena. The person in pursuance of Biotechnology career must figure out the balance between his/her skill set, personality, and attitude.
Significance of Syllabus
As a student we study many inter-related subjects under the course of Biotechnology (to name a few: Cell Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Bioanalytical Techniques, Genetics, Microbiology, Biostatistics and Biomathematics, Molecular Biology, Immunology, Animal Biotechnology, Plant Biotechnology, Developmental Biology, Recombinant DNA Technology, Industrial Biotechnology, Bioprocess Engineering, Enzymology, Environmental Biotechnology, Agricultural Biotechnology, Food Technology, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Biosafety, Patenting and IPR, Bio-entrepreneurship and many more).
This whole array of subjects during a course (semester/ year wise) comes in a sequential manner so that one could have a basic and fundamental knowledge of all the living systems at initial level and later the intricate ones that would provide an insight how to apply technology on a living system so that it can be translated into a useful and commercial product/ service. Certainly, students in their initial years of graduation couldn’t understand the significance of this syllabus outline and get confused.
Before the final year
A year before the final exams (2nd for BSc and 3rd for B. Tech) students must identify a field out of these subjects in which they want to grow further as a professional. One needs to explore a chain of subjects out of this webbed syllabus that would carve a sustainable future path for the individual.
Let’s presume, a student finds Recombinant DNA Technology very appealing (as many students fascinate about manipulating/ altering the genes by working in this field) then one must choose out of Plant/ Animal/ Microbial System. Next, is the preparation of a list of subjects that must be studied meticulously. For e.g.,
Cell Biology > Genetics > Plant Physiology and diversity > Molecular Biology > Recombinant DNA Technology > Plant Biotechnology > Agricultural Biotechnology
Cell Biology > Genetics > Animal Physiology and diversity > Molecular Biology > Recombinant DNA Technology > Animal Developmental Biology > Animal Biotechnology
Cell Biology > Genetics > Microbiology > Molecular Biology > Recombinant DNA Technology > Industrial Biotechnology > Bioprocess Engineering > Food Technology > Enzymology
Besides, all the other subjects would provide the platform technology that will ultimately result in a proper blend of knowledge and practical hands required for a sustainable future in the world of possibilities.
NOTE: Choosing one thing essentially doesn’t mean to overlook other subjects and scoring more in a subject is not related to your inclination towards a field. So, choose wisely and keep your head and heart aligned with the outer world’s demand and supply.
Search for an internship
Next step is to search for an internship related to your area of interest. Don’t apply in Pharma companies or Hospitals thoughtlessly, since the majority of them wouldn’t allow you to touch the equipment as they are very costly and couldn’t risk their normal course of working just to provide you training of two-six months. It is much better to choose training institutes that provide hands-on experience of handling instruments and carrying out experiments independently along with a certificate (credibility is also important).
Breaks between the semesters should be utilized for choosing a postgraduate level course (MSc/ M. Tech/ MBA/ Diploma/B. Ed) according to your personality and skill set. Simultaneously, start the self-estimation exercise with yourself so that you can figure out the areas of strengths and weaknesses in your personality. Strength areas must be mastered and try to overcome weaknesses. Work hard on gaining conceptual knowledge, hands-on lab experience and harder on the communication skills (even if you are not considering a marketing career).
Last Semester Strategy
During last semester, one needs to keep a tab of entrance exam forms of best government universities (as well as the private ones as Plan B). Evaluate every educational institution on the criteria of lab facilities, direct exposure to the instruments and faculty. Labs play a central role in this field, without which Biotechnology is like any other subject that could be pursued via distance learning/correspondence/part-time.
Note: All the government institutes don’t have well-equipped labs and good faculty. All the private universities cannot provide 100% placements on completion of the course. So be very considerate about the set-up of a place where you are putting in the next foot.
Research/Academics Career Strategy
If you are considering research/academics as your biotechnology career after post-graduation, then start assisting faculties in their projects which would showcase your practical skills and also give you that extra edge over others (external candidates: JRF/SRF/Research Assistant) plus you can also pursue the dissertation (last semester) under the same faculty. Alongside, start preparing for next level competitive exams for higher studies (Ph.D./Diploma/B. Ed) or government jobs as per your choice.
Corporate/ Industrial/ Marketing Career Strategy
While if you are not in the above league i.e., you want to go for corporate/ industrial/ marketing jobs then you need to sharpen your communication skills and start hopping the job sites on the internet. Study their job description, roles and responsibilities section carefully, from there one can get a lead on the exact skill set required for a job. Start connecting with the places where you did the project/ summer internship. Networking with the people under whom you worked can help you in understanding the demand of the industry. Depending on your competence, these people can recommend you for jobs. Another option is to apply for administrative jobs at government agencies or private organizations.
Perfect Career Path Recipe
However, none of the above steps assures the certain recipe of a perfect career path but could lessen the confusion/troubles/missing gaps that lead to discouraging results in a biotechnology career. We shall further elaborate every step of “What, When and How” to get the approximate expected outcomes in the coming articles. The best feature of this field is that it is ever-growing, the only requirement to start with is perseverance, passion and efforts. It’s a sea of exploration in which one must dive and reach a milestone and interestingly every milestone you cross will lead to a loop of new discoveries, innovations and self-satisfaction.
So, don’t stop yourself from taking risks and believe in your own creativity as
“any small idea may be converted into a revolution and you could be the next flag bearer just like a marker in the genome that can enlighten others with their success stories and show them the ethical way of approaching breakthrough results”.
About the author
Sonal Gupta is a doctorate in Biotechnology from JIIT, Noida. Besides pursuing research, she is an experienced academician and now exploring herself as a writer. She aims to provide the best guidance to students about the career prospects of Biotechnology.