WHAT CAN I DO WITH A BSc DEGREE?

This frequently asked question has no simple answer and is on many people's mind. This article offers a brief run-down on what is expected from a BSc graduate and potential avenues that one could explore. This article is written with Biomedical Science, Physiology, and Pharmacology graduates in mind and is based on current trends as of the time of publishing; so take it with a huge grain of salt - I'm not including references for good reason - in reality, things change all the time! One should view this article as a guide for places to begin looking and researching.

Introduction

It may be worth noting that when you graduate from Undergrad, your certificate will only read "Bachelor of Science" (accurate as of the time of writing for the University of Auckland). It will not state what major you completed so you are literally indistinguishable from the next BSc graduate apart from name (honours and merits withholding) even if they graduated from a completely different discipline such as Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, etc. Taking a reductionist approach, although there is differentiation between the different majors offered within the BSc degree, it is perhaps fair to say that the underlying skills acquired within a Science degree are the same. Then taking an even further reductionist approach, all undergraduate degrees all have the common letter "B" so whether one graduates with a: BSc, BCom, LLB, BPharm, BOptom, MBChB, etc., it is perhaps (although a stretch), fair to even daresay that all Bachelor degrees are more or less the same with just different specialist knowledge areas. This really shouldn't be surprising given that all Bachelor degrees have the same "Graduate Profile" detailed in this link. My point here is that given broad equivalence of all the Bachelor degrees, it is quite easily perceivable that one can enter virtually any job given the right circumstances. Now this answer is obviously completely unsatisfying to the casual reader so by instituting framework and rigid structures first, I will oversimplify the "job market" into 3 different categories: Academia, Clinical, and Industry. In reality, these are 3 non-mutually exclusive tags that can lose their meaning particularly in their overlapping areas.

 

Image by Miguel Henriques

Academia

The primary route that a BSc (Biomedical Science) at a University institution prepares you for...

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Image by Luis Melendez

Clinical

Typically entails interactions with patients...

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Image by CHUTTERSNAP

Industry

Refers to the private sector where market forces dictate supply and demand...

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As one can appreciate, there are nigh infinite opportunities available. However, each opportunity is likely unique and tailored to each companies’ needs. To get into the mix, one should try to expose themselves to as many networking opportunities as possible. Furthermore, don't think that just because an organisation that does not have an opening is a "waste of networking time" - if they don't have a spot for you, they probably have a contact down the road and can "hook you up". Also, each company has its own financial year and ideal employment times; so whilst you might be looking for an employer during September towards the end of the semester, a particular organisation might have their recruiting time set for March instead.

Anyhow, a good starting point a tertiary student can easily start at is to participate in Chiasma, the premier student-led organisation connecting science and business - they have many connections to the Biotech industry. Another pathway to keep in this loop is to complete a 2-year Masters of Bioscience Enterprise programme at the University of Auckland. This is another popular pathway with bounteous options available.

 

Back to Reality & Conclusion

​As one can see, the mere diversity of options available is immense. Whilst I have categorised this into three fields of “Academia”, “Clinical”, and “Industry”, it is important to note that reality is never so simple. In reality, these distinctions are blurred particularly because an individual can be involved in all three fields if they desired; for example: a clinician could be needed to ensure patient safety in a clinical trial of a patented drug. Academics can easily commercialise their research should they want to; clinicians can help recruit patients into academic studies; and the private sector can provide the laboratory equipment needed to actualise academic studies. The whole "system" is intertwined. For medical students, they are no exception to the above; they can enter these fields just as easily as any other graduate with the obvious distinction that they have the opportunity to practice medicine due to their associated degree.

Again, I cannot stress upon you enough - take this article with a grain of salt - a lot of this information is collated from word-of-mouth with reliable and unreliable sources so everything varies. It's just nice to know the bigger picture first hence why I write this article :) Good luck!