At the Intersection of Science and Business
Updated: Nov 22, 2020
An Interview with Ava Meagher by Georgia Thompson
Ava Meagher was the student with a CAO all over the place. When she finally settled on General Science, she loved it, but she always had the nagging feeling that she wanted something else. She loved studying science, she’s curious about how the world works, but her other interests; business and language, also sent her into Trinity’s Student Managed Fund and French society, eventually becoming chairperson of French Soc in her final year. Ava graduated from Immunology in 2018, and not without giving research a fair shake. She did two summer research internships which again, she loved, but she also felt then that the PhD life might not be for her.
Following her interests and branching into a different academic pursuit, Ava decided to do a Masters in Business Management in Trinity straight after fourth year. As she says, she decided to “try and cram as much business as I could into the year and then have all my options open so I could try and make a fully informed decision.” Business and science are not conflicting interests, in fact backgrounds in both can make for a very compelling CV, but the two can be difficult to combine in the Irish education system. Even leaving her Masters, Ava still felt like she wasn’t sure where she was headed. Though jobs certainly exist at the intersection of business and science, it takes some research to find what those jobs are. Ava certainly did her legwork. While still in her undergraduate she talked to professors and friends who put her in touch with professionals in a variety of tracts to get an idea of what her options were. She always finished these conversations with, “Is there anyone else you think I should talk to about this?” A fantastic follow up that helped her to keep conversations going and continue her search.
As she says it, “I know I can do something if I have a plan. If I knew what I wanted to do then I could just go for it and it would all be easy, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” For her that’s what made the job hunt stressful, not quite knowing what exactly she was after. Thus began the research phase. Ava is a self-professed professional Linked-In stalker and she certainly put effort to track down her current job. It wasn’t just a question of what, but where. Many jobs are simply not posted up on Indeed or Glassdoor. They are found through company websites, word of mouth or referral. For Ava this meant cold-calling (and cold-emailing) often with no response. It’s important to know, and Ava’s the first to say: the job hunt is not fun. It’s really hard and there’s no use sugar coating it. It’s hard to figure out what you want and it’s even harder to find a job in your chosen area. But it’s important to remember; many have done it before, and you too will get through it. In the end all the work paid off for Ava.
Her job now is part business, part science. She is very much a generalist and part of what attracted her to the position was having the ability to flex her various skills. She’s a Life Sciences Analyst at Charles River Associates, a consulting firm which works on a vast array of issues from financial services to healthcare, and of course including life sciences. Her interest was in early stage biopharma and the steps a new discovery takes out of the research lab into the market. Some of this happens within large companies that have in-house specialists for certain areas, but both new and established companies often seek outside expertise to move forward. That’s where a consulting group comes in. It’s a job that truly requires a diverse array of skills outside scientific understanding; excellent communication, problem solving, and the ability to understand both the big picture and the tiny details. It’s a new thing every day. And for Ava, that’s what keeps it exciting. It’s a job where you not only have to, but get to keep learning.