By Wendy Benning Swanson, President and Owner/Founder of Verum Staffing

Once a long time ago, I was a Biology graduate from the College of St. Catherine – Now St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.  Reflecting back on that time, I know that navigating the job market is intimidating because you spent most of your time in science classes, not learning about how to plot the course of your career.  Our intention with this article for those of you that are graduating with a degree in Chemistry, Biology, Microbiology, or other science degree is to help you understand your options, what opportunities are out there for an entry level science grad, and how you can put your best foot forward. 
Types of Opportunities
First you need to understand that there are 4 types of positions that you are going to find:
·         Direct Hire– applying for a position and being hired directly through the company. 
·         Direct Placement– A staffing agency assists the company to find an individual that will work directly for the company.
·         Contract and Contract to Hire – A staffing agency will help a company find an individual for a position that will only last a specified amount of time.  Usually from 4 months to a year (sometimes more).  When the position is complete, if there is no more work for you, you will no longer work for that company through the staffing agency (contract) or you will be hired on (contract to hire). 
We often have a lot of questions about the Contract and Contract to hire option because people are not familiar with it.  
Some benefits of contract/contract to hire:
·         Gain valuable experience in a company that you will be able to put on your resume to help you find your next job.
·         You will have the opportunity to determine if the position is something you are interested in before you are hired on.  It’s harder to “quit” a full time position than it is a contract position.
·         You will have flexibility if you decide to go onto graduate school.
There are also many different industries that you can work in Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Food, Environmental, Medical Device, Chemical, Personal Care, Government, Colleges and Universities and more.  The types of roles that you could be working in range from Laboratory Technician, Microbiologist, Quality, Analytical Chemistry, R&D Technician, Associate Scientist, Quality Scientist, Clinical Laboratory Technician, Process Scientist, as some examples. 
The next step is how to put your best foot forward in order to find these opportunities.  There are many articles out there that will help you with your resume and with your interviewing skills.  Type those topics into Google and there is a treasure trove of information out there to help you!  From our perspective there are a number of key things that you can do to help you get noticed by these companies:
·         Make sure your resume clearly states your scientific skills in a section at the top of the resume.  These skills should be in columns or list form and if you apply for a position, be sure the skills they are asking for are very clearly visible. Some examples of skills that you learned in college could be HPLC, GC/MS, Pipetting, ELISA, Western Blot, plating bacteria, assays, etc. 
·         Practice your interviewing skills.  Interviewing is a skill, it’s not a talent.  People are not generally natural at it.  Find a friend or family member to do a mock interview and get some feedback on how they perceive you.
·         Please be sure to look professional in your interview.  Wear a business suit or the sharpest outfit that is business appropriate that you can find.
·         Show up to the interview 10 minutes early.  No earlier, no later.
·         Research the company that you are interviewing with and be prepared with questions to ask about the company and the position.  Have a good understanding of the position you are interviewing for. 
·         Send a thank you note in the mail.  It will make you stick out more than the individual that sent it through email, although that is acceptable, mail is preferred.
 Where do you find that job?
Now the big question is, how do you find these jobs and/or staffing agencies?  Most companies post their positions on their website and online through a website such as CareerBuilder, Monster,, etc.  There is also a site called that aggregates all of these jobs into their site.  Another option is to connect with a staffing agency that works with these companies.  We at VERUM Staffing work with companies that hire people with scientific backgrounds across the Twin Cities.  We can help you navigate and understand the job market in the Twin Cities and connect you with opportunities that would fit your background and experience. 
This article is the beginning of a series of blogs for recent graduating students with scientific backgrounds that will address the job search, resume, and interview process.  If you are interested in speaking with us further regarding positions we have available, future opportunities, or interview/resume help, please send an email to lhoff@verumstaffing.comto set up an informational interview. 
Wendy Benning Swanson is the President and Owner/Founder of Verum Staffing. She is a 2-time graduate of St. Catherine University (formerly the College of St. Catherine), earning both a Bachelors in Biology, as well as her Masters in Organizational Leadership. She has been involved in the staffing industry since 2003, and founded Verum Staffing in the spring of 2012.