From South Korea to N.C., Finding a Career in Biotechnology
While living in South Korea, Jonathan Maynard was on a path to earn a graduate degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).
After his studies began, however, he started questioning if teaching was the right career path for him. When the answer to that question was no, he returned to the U.S. and settled in Clayton, North Carolina, where his parents were living in retirement.
Today, the University of Chicago Romance Languages and Literature graduate, who is fluent in four languages, is on a career path that will one day allow him to return to South Korea. And, it all started with JCC’s BioWork certificate program.
“At first, my attraction to the BioWork certificate was strictly one of convenience,” said Maynard. “I have limited transportation at the moment and with Novo Nordisk and Grifols being right here in Clayton, pursuing something in biomanufacturing seemed like the best employment option.”
The BioWork certificate program provides students with the foundational skills needed to launch a career as a process technician for a biotechnology, pharmaceutical or chemical manufacturing company. For Maynard, the payoff was worth the investment.
“The BioWork certificate seemed the promise of a small investment for just $300, one semester and classes close to home, for a big reward later on, such as a good-paying and secure job at a biomanufacturing company,” he pointed out. “However, once the BioWork class started, I became quite interested in many of the engineering aspects that go into the machines and facilities that manufacture pharmaceutical products.”
After completing the 136-hour program, Maynard found a position at Novo Nordisk through temporary staffing agency Corestaff Services. As a process technician in the finishing and packaging division, he and his coworkers repackage insulin pens that were not properly processed. While the position is currently temporary, he would like for it to become permanent.
“It remains to be seen whether my position will become permanent or not,” he said. “I certainly would like for it to become permanent, and my supervisors have indicated that those of us contracted employees who demonstrate good qualities and fit in well at Novo could potentially be made permanent.”
Maynard credits the BioWork certificate program with providing him the foundation to launch his new career and spark his interest in biotechnology. It also taught him the importance of current good manufacturing practices (cGMP), which refers to regulations enforced by the FDA.
“In such a high-stakes industry, everyone must be on the same page and committed with the same level of focus, intensity, sincerity and knowledge of the manufacturing and distribution of drugs that people depend on every day to live and live healthily,” explained Maynard.
Through BioWork, Maynard has also learned to “walk the walk and the talk the talk” of the industry.
“With every chapter of our textbook, I learned more and more the words and expressions which may seem ordinary to people outside the industry but take on a more specific and serious meaning to a professional within the industry,” he pointed out. “Being able to express yourself in a way that other technicians and workers in the industry will understand quickly and precisely is an invaluable skill that has helped me integrate into the team of an actual biomanufacturing company.”
JCC’s resume building courses were also critical to his training.
“The courses on resume building and job seeking did an excellent job of taking my general resume and shaping it into a document that will be more recognizable to recruiting agents in the actual biomanufacturing industry,” said Maynard. “Additionally, without a formal introduction into North Carolina’s biomanufacturing, I never would have found my current job and thus gotten my foot in the door to the industry itself.”
Building a Future in Biotechnology
Thanks to his experience in the BioWork certificate program, Maynard has found a new career path. Later this year, he will enroll in JCC’s Advanced Biomanufacturing certificate program. However, this will not be the end of his journey in the industry.
“I have seen some degrees advertised online that could combine biotechnology and business,” Maynard said. “Such a path is particularly interesting to me, since I would, in the long term, like to return to South Korea or Japan, this time working in the biotechnology and biomanufacturing industry.”
Are you interested in making a career change? Learn more about opportunities within North Carolina’s growing biotechnology field.