Free Event at NCBiotech Shows Great Biomanufacturing Job Options

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If your New Year’s resolution is to get out of a low-paying, dead-end job and make a move into a good-paying, fulfilling career in the biopharmaceutical industry, you need to attend the free BPD Spotlight on Education event this Thursday, January 17, from 12:30 to 4 p.m., at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

You’ll hear not only details about affordable local training programs – the pathways into this exciting field – but you’ll also hear the stories of recent graduates who landed those jobs and are building careers and lives beyond their expectations.

One panel member, who asked that her name not be used in this story, is a 33-year-old mother of five, ages 5 to 13. A stay-at-home mother and freelance graphic designer for more than 10 years, she had no prior experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. Now she is culturing cells as part of the process Biogen, the global pharmaceutical firm, uses to deliver therapies from genetically modified cells for serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Her story is truly about one door closing and another, better one, opening.

She originally entered college to pursue a nursing career, though that was changed by life circumstances.

Ultimately she began taking classes at Wake Technical Community College for an associate degree as the pathway to a nursing career. While there, she heard about the BioWorks Certificate program, enrolled in the three-month course, and secured employment at Biogen. The company will help fund her continuing education, so she now looks forward to finishing her associate degree and pursuing her bachelor’s degree after that.

Students in BioWork class at CapStone Center
Students in a BioWork class at Wake Tech's CapStone Center,
part of the BioNetwork program. -- BioNetwork Photo

Meanwhile, she is supporting her family, with benefits, doing meaningful work that she loves. Her entry-level position at Biogen even pays more than an entry-level nursing job.

“I’m still helping people, but in a different way,” she says.

In fact, Biogen's involvement with encouraging children to pursue work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers led her to Biogen in the first place. While she was taking the BioWorks class, her oldest children visited Biogen's community lab. The company's STEM outreach made her want to work at Biogen. And now her daughters participate in the Young Women in Bio programs, promoting STEM and biotechnology careers for students in middle and high school.

Hers is just one of the stories from the six panelists who will be at the Spotlight on Education event. Others will be there who have studied at BRITE (Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise) at North Carolina Central University, and BTEC (Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center) at North Carolina State University. They’ll all share their own versions of finding opportunity in the rich landscape of biopharmaceutical workforce training in North Carolina. 

Elizabeth Witherspoon, Ph.D., NCBiotech Writer
Mon, 01/14/2019 - 12:41