Francesca Abate- PhD student at the University of Siena in collaboration with Novartis V&D

1. What is your current position?

PhD in the University of Siena in collaboration with Novartis V&D.

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

6 months in advance.

3. How did you learn about your current position?

Novartis career website.

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


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

Master degree in Industrial biotechnology.

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

Master degree with high standards final grades and biochemical experience.

7. How long after your interview did you start your position?

Three months.

8. Was your mentor supportive of your career choice?


9. 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?

It has been a long interview process with one by one interviews, oral presentations, oral examination.

10. Had you seriously pursued other positions or career paths prior to being hired? If so, what factors led to your ultimate job choice?

Yes, but the choice of a PhD in Novartis seemed to be the most advantageous for me, from a scientific point of view.

11. Has your career trajectory followed the path you’d expected when you started graduate school?

Not precisely. My initial direction was a permanent job after graduation in a pharmaceutical company.

12. Was anything about your job not what you’d expected before you were hired?


13. Are there any skills or experiences you wish you’d had before you started?


14. How do you spend an average workday?

Lab work (purification, characterization and crystallization of proteins) and experiment planning.

15. What do you most like about your work?

Bench work.

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

Let my ideas to be accepted by colleagues.

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

Strong biochemistry scientific background, high motivation, quick learning skills.

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

Sure, if you have an active and decided personality this would help the achieving of the results.

19. Are there any traits that would make it difficult to succeed in your position?

It will not be easy if the person is going to give up after the first difficulty.

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

It is important to be really interested in the project you’re pursuing and to be highly motivated.

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