8 Jobs To Start Your Career in Science Marketing

Including some you never thought about
8 Jobs To Start Your Career in Science Marketing
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In: Career

So, you’ve decided to leave academia and go into marketing, but you're confused by all the options?

Not all roads are created equal. Some will lead you up the corporate ladder, others could be your chance to explore the Van Life (but please don't).

Either way, your first job in science marketing will be fundamental to your career, and it's often hard to know what a job title really means.

In this article, I have listed the top roles you should consider first. Let's dive in.

1. Marketing coordinator

Companies need to ensure that their marketing campaigns are well organized and run efficiently.

As a marketing coordinator, you'll handle the logistics of these campaigns. This includes managing timelines, working with different departments to ensure everything runs smoothly, and reporting on the results.

This role is also often found in marketing agencies that work with multiple clients, which can be a great way for an entry-level candidate to gain exposure to a variety of topics and specialties.

This is a great role for juniors because you'll quickly learn about the different processes and stakeholders involved in a marketing campaign.

However, be careful when choosing your first company, as being a marketing coordinator in a large pharmaceutical company or a small biotech company can mean very different things.

In a small company, you'll likely be a marketing assistant juggling many types of campaigns (which I think is great to learn quickly), while in a larger company, your role may be limited to managing ad campaigns on a specific channel, which is a good experience but can quickly plateau.

Whichever path you take, you could then move into a proper marketing manager role, overseeing larger campaigns, potentially managing a team and developing your own marketing strategies.

2. Copywriter

This role is perfect if you have a knack for writing and can translate scientific jargon into accessible language.

A copywriter creates engaging 'copies’ (marketing jargon for text... don't ask me why) for anything from a website to a brochure to an ad.

Copywriters are often autodidacts, so reading a lot and being curious will be your secret power. The other advantage (or disadvantage, depending on how you feel about it) is that you can easily go freelance after a few years of experience, as this role is often a temporary need for companies.

Unlike copywriting in other industries, the life sciences field is not overcrowded, so it could be a nice opportunity for anyone who wants to build an independent career.

If you prefer the corporate route, this role could lead to content management responsibilities, such as content marketing manager, coordinating larger content creation efforts and working with a team of writers.

3. Social media manager

As a social media specialist, you'll manage social media accounts, create content, and interact with followers. It's a great mix of marketing coordinator and copywriter skills, and if you're already comfortable with social platforms, this could be an easy way to make a great impression in your first job.

However, be sure to broaden your horizons quickly, as there is limited room for growth within the confines of social media management. Look into digital marketing manager roles once you feel the learning curve is slowing down, which will ensure you can begin overseeing broader digital marketing strategies and integrating social media efforts with other marketing channels

Like copywriters, many social media managers choose the freelance route, which can be a great idea if you want to be your own boss.

4. Growth hacker

If you're not into marketing fluff and prefer a more hands-on approach, a role as a growth hacker could be a great opportunity

A growth hacker uses creative, cost-effective strategies to help companies acquire and retain customers.

This role involves a mix of marketing, data analysis, and a dose of ingenuity to find unexpected ways to grow. As a growth hacker, you may be exposed to a lot of email marketing, which is often a powerful tool in a marketer's toolbox.

A growth hacker is first and foremost a self-taught, quick learner who will try any and all ideas to get there. In my experience, this mentality is not as common in marketing, but if you are adventurous and not afraid to be autonomous, this is a great place to start.

Growth hackers are most likely to work for small to mid-sized companies, as this type of jack-of-all-trades role does not work well in a large corporate environment

In my opinion, a growth hacker role is one of the best options to broaden your future horizons. Within a few years, you'll most likely be exposed to many more marketing channels and techniques than other juniors, which could open doors to different senior roles like marketing manager, campaign manager, or head of growth. Growth hacking is most likely to be found in companies selling a product or service with strong growth potential (such as laboratory equipment or digital tools for laboratories).

Warning: Growth hacking roles are not always advertised under this name. Sometimes, a marketing assistant role could hide a growth hacking mission without naming it (because some companies don't even know the term). Look for positions that give you a lot of freedom and involve working across various marketing channels. These opportunities are often found in smaller companies.

5. Product manager assistant

Marketing is often divided into two areas: "classic" marketing, which focuses on the general promotion of a company, and product marketing, which aims to work around a specific product and better understand its customers and market.

Assisting a product manager involves working on product launches, developing marketing strategies, and ensuring that products meet customer needs. This role is a great place to start, as it provides insight into both product development and marketing processes.

It's also a role where you'll most likely be mentored by a more senior expert, so if you feel that learning from others is more your style, this could be a good idea.

A product manager assistant path will, of course, lead you to more senior product manager roles. After a few years of experience, you could take on full responsibility for launching and marketing your own product.

Going into product management is certainly the career path that will make the most use of your scientific background, as you will need to be able to talk to and understand the product development team and their needs. So keep this in mind if you still have an appetite for tough scientific challenges.

6. Business analyst

Business analysts collect and analyze data to gauge the performance of marketing activities. This role is most likely to be found in large pharmaceutical companies that already have products on the market (I actually found myself in this role at Boehringer Ingelheim while in university).

Spoiler alert: you have to love Excel sheets to be a marketing analyst, as most of your days will be spent looking at them. But it can be a really fun experience if you like playing with real data. If you're into coding, this could also be a huge asset in your early career (especially if you know Python and R).

A business analyst career will lead you to managing a broader portfolio of products, conducting your own research and focus groups (this is really fun), and eventually leading the business analysis of an entire department with your own team of analysts reporting to you.

This path is not as well known, but it's in high demand, so dear data nerds, don't overlook this option.

7. Event coordinator

Event coordinators plan and manage the logistics of conferences, seminars, and trade shows. This is a great role if you enjoy organizing events and have a strong attention to detail.

You are likely to progress into an event manager role, overseeing larger events, managing budgets and coordinating with various stakeholders.

Event management can be found in specialized event organizations, as well as in pharmaceutical companies that are active in this area.

Event management will most likely lead you to communications roles later on, which could be a great way to broaden your horizons if you don't plan to spend your entire career as an event specialist.

A job in events is also one of the most people-facing roles you'll find in marketing, which could be great for building a strong network early in your career.

8. Graphic designer

Last but not least, let's not forget that marketing needs visuals. If you enjoy drawing and creating your own scientific animations, this is the way to go.

Don’t be afraid to start with limited design skills, as you’ll mostly learn on the job. But be sure to practice a lot and be curious about all the new digital techniques and tools available to you.

Most graphic designers I know in the science field are freelancers or work for an agency, so make sure that sounds like a viable option to you, as these roles are rarely internalized.

The big advantage of being a science illustrator is that you'll earn a lot more than someone who does general illustration, and you'll be safe from being replaced by AI for a little longer than non-specialized designers.

Eventually, this career could lead you to start your own agency or find a role as a creative director in a larger organization.

Create your own path

The eight roles I listed above are for me a great place to start, but they're definitely not choices set in stone.

At the end of the day, it's up to you to shape your own career through learning, networking, and a little bit of luck.

There's also no harm in exploring different options before settling on a long-term career choice. While it may take some time to figure things out, finding a career you're truly passionate about can really improve your overall success and satisfaction in the long run.

If you’re still doing your PhD and you’re itching to get into marketing to leave the bench behind, don’t rush in too fast. There are plenty of things you can still do before making the jump to improve your chances of being hired while completing your thesis.

In any case, marketing is an ever-evolving field, and the most important thing is to keep an open mind and learn new things.

So prepare your resume and get ready to jump in.

Written by
Joachim Eeckhout
Over the past decade, I have specialized in science communication and marketing while building a successful biotech media company. Now, I'm sharing what I've learned with you on The Science Marketer.
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