After Years at Home, NC Mom Finds Career Success Via BioNetwork
[Reprinted with permission from NC BioNetwork's "Real People. Real Jobs." blog. Go to the Bio Jobs Hub for more stories and info on life sciences job opportunities made possible by NC's workforce training initiatives.]
It’s a situation many families encounter. A husband and wife explore alternatives for staying home to care for young children rather than focusing on career pursuits. Important questions about family priorities arise, scenarios are discussed, and a conscious decision is made.
For Ritu Mathur and her husband, they decided she would remain at home to help nurture and raise their young children.
Later, as Ritu sought to enter the workforce, she faced a challenge landing a job in North Carolina’s booming biotech industry. Ritu holds a Ph.D. in biofertilizer from India and a certification from Harvard in nanotechnology. But after staying home with her two children, she kept hearing the same thing from prospective employers.
“I was either overqualified or under-experienced,” said Ritu.
While she is thankful for being able to spend enjoyable time at home with her children, Ritu also developed doubts about whether she would be able to return to work, if she chose to do so. The struggle was real!
Ritu spent several years networking, volunteering, and looking for a way to position herself as a viable candidate to employers. When a friend told her that taking a BioNetwork course and attending a virtual career fair would increase the probability of starting a career in the biopharma industry, she was intrigued.
At first she was hesitant. But Ingrid Charles, BioWork Director at Durham Technical Community College, encouraged Ritu to take additional courses to help differentiate her skill set.
Career development support
Then, Amber English, a biopharma career development instructor at Durham Tech, helped Ritu see that she could not only gain valuable technical training, but by identifying transferable skills and practicing interview techniques, Ritu would be prepared and confident to navigate the complex hiring process. Amber helped craft the resume to fit specific biopharma positions.
“The certificate from Durham Tech is a full package. It not only gives you job-specific knowledge but also guides and supports you landing an interview,” Ritu stated.
Advanced technical training
Ritu completed two advanced training classes to help her stand out even more: Molecular Biotechnology Techniques and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) & Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) at Durham Tech in 2019. BioNetwork and Durham Tech teams then prepared Ritu for the next crucial step - connecting successfully with hiring managers.
The team at Durham Tech encouraged and reinforced Ritu’s growing confidence each step along the way with individualized feedback to prepare her to interact with biopharma company recruiters at the virtual career fair. Throughout the process, Ritu refined her resume and improved her interview skills.
And finally, success.
Her interaction with Pfizer at the career fair led to a formal invitation to an interview and ultimately a job offer! Ritu began her position in Upstream Manufacturing in November 2020, and she couldn’t be more excited.
“Here I am after 14 years with my first job. I’m so excited. I am also very thankful I had the opportunity to stay home with my children,” Ritu said as we discussed her journey.
“I’m proud to be working for a company that not only brings innovation and changes to people’s lives - but they are true to their values.”
Ritu is expanding her career opportunities by adding manufacturing experience with Pfizer’s gene therapy division. Introductory and advanced biomanufacturing training courses available at NC community colleges help students stand out in a competitive job market.
Ritu is thrilled with how the courses prepared her and stated, "The technical training was great, but what I didn’t expect was the amount of additional career development support and encouragement I received to prepare me to land a great job.
“Susan, Ingrid and Amber gave me motivation, checking on me again and again. They looked at it from the standpoint of an employer, and advised me in that way,” said Ritu.
BioNetwork provides individualized care and guidance throughout the training and hiring process, connecting real people with real jobs. We’re not just training technical skills that you need to update your resume. Our team will guide you through the steps of starting a new career. We are your partners in the lifelong learning process.