How I Landed A Job In A Completely Different Industry


I have been wanting to put together a post about this for SO long, pretty much ever since I left undergrad, and I have finally got around to doing it! I did not take the typical path after I got my BS in Genetics and I want to share my insight for others who are graduating or newly graduated and hoping to break into something that is different than their undergrad and/or internship experiences. 

Generally people who graduate with a BS in Genetics take 1 of 3 paths - they either go to med school, grad school, or they go into industry and start in an entry level research scientist position. Moving through undergrad and experiencing a bit of all three worlds made me realize that none of these three paths were for me. What I really wanted was a more communications-based job within a science company, and after doing more exploring I came to the conclusion that what I really wanted to do was work in marketing. 

I had *zero* experience in marketing when I had this realization and had a resume full of seemingly inapplicable research experience. I was in my second semester of junior year and after doing a lot of reading felt discouraged because I couldn't find many resources on how to build a resume for a job that doesn't apply directly to your experience. I also felt discouraged because there were not many resources on the path to getting the type of job that I wanted right out of undergrad. 

I ended up doing a couple internships in marketing - one in the science field and one not in the science field. After graduation, I was offered a position at a healthcare consulting company. My original responsibilities involved a lot of project management, but it was a small company so I also had the opportunity to help out with tasks in the area of marketing. After a year I expressed interest to make marketing my full-time position and ended up moving into the marketing department that summer! 

I got where I wanted to go, and eventually ended up wanting to change directions (LOL life is funny that way), but I learned so much in the process. So here are some tips coming at you, and I think these can be helpful whether you are still in undergrad, just graduated, looking to change industries, or just want to beef up your resume. Here we go! 

Experience Building 

                                                                Don't Sleep on Volunteer Gigs

If you are breaking into a new field, whether it be marketing, sales, legal, project management, etc., do not forget that volunteer experience can be AS VALUABLE as internship experience on your resume when you are an undergrad/new graduate. Volunteer experience in the field you are trying to transfer into can help you land an initial internship/job in the industry. Internship/ entry level job recruiters generally don't expect that you have years of experience in a field, but are typically looking for strong demonstrated interest. It is hard to show demonstrated interest when your best source of demonstrated interest would likely be your major. Starting on the volunteer level lowers that barrier once you start looking at internships. Volunteer experience gives you something to talk about with internship/entry level recruiters and lets them know that your interest isn't just hypothetical, you've gone out and tried to get a taste of the new field. So if you are feeling stumped as to how to get a job in a different field that you want to be in, head to Volunteer Match and see if there are volunteer opportunities related to what you are interested in. See the Resume Building section below for how to build a strong resume when you don't have a lot of experience.

 Use "Self Made" Experiences

I think a piece of my resume that was key to getting internship interviews in marketing was through "self made" experiences. By that I mean that I started this blog. There are a number of ways that you could go about finding a "self made" experience to add to your resume. If you are looking to get into sales maybe you start a side gig like an Etsy page and talk with recruiters about sales tactics you used to get consumers to buy your products. In my case, I used my blog as an outlet to learn all the various software that I needed to be effective in marketing. I linked my site to Google Analytics and learned how to evaluate the data collected. I taught myself how to use most of the Adobe Suite and other useful marketing/content creation programs. Whatever you pick as your "self made" experience, make sure that it is something you are comfortable putting on a resume (i.e. it is developed or established enough to look legitimate). 

Consider Additional Curriculum Options

Whether you are in college or recently graduated, a great way to demonstrate interest in a new, unrelated industry is to take relevant curriculum. If you are still in undergrad, see if you can add a general, low level class related to that new industry. If you are newly graduated, or would prefer to keep these experiences outside your GPA, consider exploring independent certifications and classes. Browse the curriculum of your local community college, or check out Coursera offers all different types of classes and certifications that you can do fully online!

Resume Building 

Frame Your Unrelated Experiences Generally 

As you develop a new resume to apply to a job that is "not typical" for your background, think about how you can ensure that it focuses on skills applicable to the position you are applying. I had experiences in research before moving into marketing. The way that I designed my resume was to first isolate the qualities important to being successful in marketing. Once I identified these, I framed my unrelated experiences around these qualities, focusing on abilities like communications/writing and project management. Also be sure to simplify any technical/industry specific information into terms that are understandable to someone who is not acquainted with the industry. 

Play Around With Headers 

Another way to customize your resume to fit a position in a new industry is to play around with your resume headers. A typical resume will generally contain headers like "Relevant Work Experience" or "(Insert Industry) Experience." If you don't have much directly applicable experience, these headings are not going to do very much for your resume. The header that I used when putting together my resume for a job unrelated to my background was "Communications and Leadership Experience." Since I was trying to break into marketing this was an applicable category - I could put my volunteer experiences and generalized unrelated positions in this category as well. **Don't be afraid to put a volunteer position as a main header in your resume, instead of under a heading like "Volunteer Experience." **

Include Related Coursework and Technical Skills  

Bolstering your resume can be hard when you don't have a lot of applicable experience. Another way to add to your resume is to include any related coursework that you've taken, whether it is though your undergrad program, community college, or a site like Coursera. I did this on my resume when I was trying to move into marketing and included it under the "Education" section. I had a subcategory for "Relevant Coursework" which included the marketing class that I took during the second semester of my junior year of college. You can also add a section to your resume for "Technical Skills." Some industries may not have applicable technical skills, but I would say most do at this point. In this subsection you can include any programs you've learned through classes or even on your own!