Jonah Cool—Scientist II at Organovo

organovo logo1. Please describe your current position.

I am a Scientist in the Therapeutics group at Organovo. My primary responsibilities are focused on developing applications for Organovo’s bioprinting technology. On a daily basis I am at the bench but also responsible for helping manage a team across several projects.

2. How far in advance of your planned starting date did you begin looking for jobs?

~ 3 months. Had talked and thought about a transition prior to this, however.

3. How did you learn about your current position?

Job posting on Organovo’s career page.

4. Were any resources (inside or outside your university) particularly helpful in your job search?

Yes, especially talking with friends in industry and understanding the sorts of jobs that were interesting to me.

5. What was your work or educational background before you were hired?

Prior to graduate school I worked in IP Litigation. Did my PhD at Duke (Cell Biology) then spent about 2.5 years as a postdoc at the Salk Institute.

6. Which aspects of your background (doctoral training, postdoctoral training, internships, etc.) were required for your position?

Firm understanding of cell biology and associated techniques. Knowledge of organ formation was also important. Management style and experience was key.

7. How long after your interview did you start your position? Were there any barriers to starting your position when you had hoped (e.g. lack of space or funding available, time to secure appropriate visa or any other official procedures)?

I started about a month after accepting my position – probably about 6 weeks after my interview. Organovo was very generous in giving me plenty of time to wrap things up in my postdoc.

8. How would you describe the interview process and how did you prepare for it? Were there any skills or experiences in your CV that seemed to stand out?

My IP experience was good. Also, having an idea of management and being able to show experience in this area was something that I spent a lot of time talking about while interviewing. Also, being very clear on why you are ready to transition to industry will be of interest to many people.

9. Did you pursue any other position or career path prior to being hired in your current position? If so, what factors led to your ultimate job choice?

Not really. Prior to graduate school, I considered law. But once I started my PhD, I did not seriously consider major changes in direction.

10. Has your career trajectory followed the path you had expected when you started graduate school?

Nope, not even close. And, frankly, I think it is important to stay open at all stages. If you don’t it seems likely that cool opportunities will pass you by.

11. Is there anything about your current job that you had not expected before you were hired?

It is a very fun position and in-line with what I had hoped.

12. Are there any particular skills or experiences you wish you had before you started?

Management training would be great.

13. How do you spend an average workday?

At this point much of it is checking on projects that I am involved in. There are other duties that I have around the company related to operations and management. Some of my time is dedicated to the lab and working with the team to meet our objectives.

14. What do you like the most about your work?

Team oriented. Great science. Diverse people.

15. What do you find the most challenging about your work?

Small company means that things are always changing. You have to be proactive and willing to get things done. This can be very exciting but also difficult to deal with here and there.

16. What skills do you think are absolutely essential for your position?

Being open to working with a team. Delegating tasks and being open minded to other people’s opinions. Creativity.

17. Do you think it helps to have a certain personality to do the work you do?

Yes, absolutely. If you like to work along – this would be a tough position.

18. At any point, do you regret not having pursued a career in the academic field?

I don’t. My work is a lot of fun and very gratifying. Excellent science.

19. What advice would you give to someone looking for a position like yours?

Talk to lots of people about what the position is and what you are looking for. Be open minded and when the opportunity presents itself, don’t hesitate (too much) and go for it!

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