Students, graduates and representatives from industry and government were on hand for the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS)/Johns Hopkins Career Day on 20 May at Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus in Rockville, MD. The objective of the event was to provide participants with an opportunity to hear from, and connect with, senior regularly professionals, and to participate in a hands-on workshop on career management.
Staff from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health and the US Army, and students and graduates from the Johns Hopkins' Advanced Biotechnology Studies (ABS) Program and from George Mason University attended the program. Thomas E. Colonna, PhD, JD, associate director for Johns Hopkins Regulatory Science Program, welcomed the attendees and described the Johns Hopkins program.
The program is rooted in the multidisciplinary skills of basic research, drug discovery technologies, bioinformatics, regulatory affairs, and product commercialization that the industry demands. The program offers five master's degrees, graduate fellowships, and certificates.
Paul Brooks, president of the RAPS Board of Directors, and Brad Pierson, senior manager of career resources at RAPS, talked about the organization and the benefits to members.
A panel of government officials discussed their jobs and how they got them. Participating on the panel were: Andrea Chamblee, director of Compliance Policy, FDA; Eva Ellsworth, consumer safety officer, FDA; Ben Fisher, PhD, director, Division of Reproductive, Gastro-Renal and Urological Devices, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA; and Ranjani Prabhakara, PhD, staff fellow, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, FDA.
Later, attendees divided into teams to discuss scenarios for what they would do if they were laid off and had enough money to pay their expenses for six months. Suggestions included immediately applying for unemployment, updating resumes, letting friends and professional colleagues know that they are on the job market, finding a mentor and seeking informational interviews.
A panel of industry executives talked about their careers and discussed traits they look for when hiring new employees. The panel consisted of: Denise Dion, vice president, Quality and Regulatory Services, EdquQuest; Rhona Shanker, executive director, Z & B Enterprises Inc.; Ann E. Field, PhD, project manager, Research Project Management, MedImmune; Leslie Sands, director of regulatory affairs, Lupin Pharmaceuticals; and Cindy Dibiasi, president, 3D Communications.
Linda Segal from The McCormick Group talked about how to use an executive recruiter. She reminded attendees that a recruiter works for a company to find the right employee to fit its needs.
The day ended with a panel discussion about how to answer hard questions during job interviews.
Attendees also had the opportunity to talk privately with representatives of three companies that were actively recruiting: Becker and Associates, W.L. Gore and Teva Pharmaceuticals..
"The event presented a good opportunity for enthusiastic candidates looking to take the next step as a regulatory professional to interact with potential employers," said Jack Kent, managing director, from Becker and Associates. "As recruiters, it was useful to us to have such a concentrated group of individuals interested in the positions we had available."
In summing up his experience from the career day, one attendee wrote, "The program was very informative and inspiring. I particularly liked the diversity of the presenters, so the attendees could gain perspective from attorneys to scientists to headhunters."
Another attendee wrote, "It was a worthwhile event for me because I got to listen to other experienced professionals in the regulatory field. As a recent graduate with a master of science in bioscience regulatory affairs who is looking into getting her foot into the pharmaceutical industry, it was a pleasure listening to the speakers relate their work experiences at the FDA and other companies. I also got to network, get resume tips, see some of my professors and meet other classmates that I never met before."
RAPS Chapters and Affiliates
For many regulatory professionals, chapters are the front door to the RAPS community. The low cost of entry and high-value experience make chapters the quickest way to get involved and give you a chance to connect with your local colleagues. You can also build relationships that will sustain you as you progress through your regulatory career.
From student members to senior executives, many regulatory professionals begin their involvement with chapters by attending a networking reception or educational forum for the purpose of meeting local regulatory professionals in their area. To find a chapter in your region, go to the Chapters and Affiliates
page on RAPS.org.