May 24, 2021
Blog post written by Louisa Helms.
Lisa Poole is a Field Application Specialist at Nanostring. In her PhD, she studied basic DNA repair mechanisms under a fantastic mentor at Vanderbilt. She pioneered work focused on developing new methods, but also discovered that she liked a wider breadth of scientific questions at a shallower level, rather that one scientific question at a deep level. She knew that she did not want to stay in the academic space following graduate school, but found it difficult to get an industry career with direct network connections. After months of applying to industry positions without success, she decided to apply for post-docs in cities that had booming scientific industry sectors with the hope of making connections and leveraging an industry career that way.
Lisa landed a post-doc position at the Fred Hutch with a clinically focused project that gave her new skills in in vivo and cell culture work. She immediately discovered that animal work was not her thing and left before her 2nd year of a training grant had been fulfilled. On a whim one night, she updated her LinkedIn profile to seeking employment and almost immediately was recruited by a Nanostring recruiter to apply for a Field Application Specialist position down the street. This job was perfect for Lisa: she was able to work with scientists to help them solve their technical questions, learn about new science without going crazy in-depth, and got away from the bench.
As a Field Application Scientist, she helps researchers to use Nanostring’s technologies, presents webinars to describe the technology offerings, and attends meetings to discuss projects or troubleshooting. Prior to COVID, travel was expected ~50% of the time, so now her day is mostly filled with Zoom and phone calls rather than in-person meetings. While she likes the technical aspect of her job, part of her responsibilities are to sell Nanostring’s products which is her least favorite aspect of her job. If sales goals are met, you do get financial incentives which have motivated her to try her best.
The most surprising positive aspect of her job was the culture at Nanostring. She described her first company conference as a giant party where she got to see the CEO sing karaoke the first time she met him. Nanostring offers great support for families, has their own scientific interest groups, and offers a friendly, family-like work environment. Nanostring has recently revamped their employee benefits to maintain employee longevity through improved benefits, built-in promotion plans, and the ability to try out different departments on Nanostring once your there.
While she hasn’t used the specific science-heavy skills from her PhD and postdoc, she has said that the presentation skills and scientific common sense she developed have been the most useful to her success. In her interview, she was lauded for having a clear presentation and proposed using the Nanostring technologies for her work which made her stand out amongst competitors. Now that she’s been working for Nanostring, she is constantly getting recruited for other industry positions. She credits that one simple switch of her LinkedIn to getting her first step into the industry side of science and recommends everyone to update their resume and LinkedIn if you want to start taking the job market seriously.