How To Prepare for the Medical Device Industry

March 17, 2021

The biomedical device industry includes companies like Medtronic, Abbott Laboratories, BD and GE Healthcare, to name a few. These companies create new products or improve existing products to help diagnose and treat illnesses. The industry has seen incredible growth in recent years because of advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data sciences and the use of multidisciplinary approaches.

Holly Scott, Vice President and Partner at The Mullings Group, a recruiting agency for medical device and life sciences positions.
Holly Scott, Vice President and Partner at The Mullings Group, a recruiting agency for medical device and life sciences positions.
How do you join the field? What experiences do you need? Holly Scott, Vice President and Partner at The Mullings Group recruits employees for medical device and life sciences positions. She leads projects ranging from hiring C-Suite personnel to building teams across all functional areas and shares how recruitment has changed during COVID-19.

What kinds of job opportunities are there for science students because of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the catalyst for many opportunities in science and healthcare, some of which are new, and others that were in process and accelerated. The global response of research and development for rapid testing, tracing and treatment has created awareness and attention to the gravity of disease. We are experiencing a healthcare crisis, which has put investment priority on solutions to the pandemic. With both governmental and private investor interest, there has been increased demand for people with subject matter expertise in medical devices, diagnostic testing and pharmaceutical and biotech development. In industries where investment occurs, growth typically follows. One of the largest areas of growth we expect to continue is the impact of software solutions. TeleHealth, remote monitoring and better imaging capabilities for diagnosis and patient management are all flourishing. We expect the outlook for careers in science to be positive for many years to come based on the impact of COVID-19. 

What skills, both industry-specific and professional, are vital for microbiology students and researchers to be successful?  

In general, there are several areas I recommend to any college student to focus on to increase opportunities in the workforce. Beyond subject matter expertise in science, communication and the art of engagement are critical skill sets. If you are an introvert, you need to practice extrovert skills. Your ability to engage and influence others, especially in a business team, can create tremendous opportunity or be the primary blocker for success. One other skill recommended across the board is a general understanding of media and the power of creating engagement online. Every business must consider their online brand, and every individual will need to have an online presence that speaks to your company’s values. 

For success in the medical device industry specifically, I recommend reading and studying as much as possible about the process of bringing new products to market. Walking in with a foundational understanding of the regulatory and reimbursement process will help anyone adapt faster in this regulated industry.   

What advice can you offer students and researchers looking for an entry point?  

Don’t rely exclusively on job postings or job fairs, create your own targeted plan. Technology like LinkedIn makes it easier to find decision makers within these targeted companies, and you should approach them with interest and value. Follow their press releases, new product clearances, executive appointments, etc. When you get the attention of the person or company, ensure they know you are passionate about the industry and what value you bring. A young engineer I knew offered to work for free to get experience, and when the manager saw that he consistently put in long hours, had a zest for learning and made a positive impact on the team, he was offered a full-time job. Do what others may not do to rise above the crowd. 

You have several decades of experience recruiting high-quality individuals. What are some common mistakes candidates make when they are applying and interviewing for jobs?  

Lack of preparation. Know the company, the leadership, the technology and the mission of the company.  Know what value you will bring to the team. Do not forget to tell the interviewer how serious you are about the opportunity and that you want to work there! Lastly, follow up with a thank you note after the interview reiterating your interest. 

How is recruitment different because of COVID-19? What is the virtual recruitment and interview process like?  

Actually, interviewing has gone better than I would have imagined as our world was technologically ready with the right tools. The interview process via videoconferencing requires a few additional points of preparation, including establishing effectiveness with the platform of choice (Zoom, Meets, etc.), checking your audio and visuals and clearing your background from distractions. Do not assume that videoconferences are more casual. The hiring professional will want to see you for who you are today, and what potential you show for the future. 

You recruit C-Level executives such as CEO, CIO and VPs. What kind of experience is needed to get into those careers?  

The VP and C-Suite are the “tip of the spear,” forging new directions and creating opportunities for patients worldwide. If you aspire to this level, I would encourage engaging mentors early of whom you aspire to emulate. Also, diversify your experiences by the types of projects you work on, small and large companies or doing a stint in marketing, etc. Show you can push through challenges and rise to the occasion, time and time again. Stay a life long learner, even after you complete college. Always work on mastery of your craft. 
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Author: Navanietha Rathinam, Ph.D.

Navanietha Rathinam, Ph.D.
Dr. Navanietha Rathinam is a research scientist in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.