How to Gain Business Skills as a Science Grad

business skills

If you want to develop a non-academic career, you need to develop business skills alongside your scientific knowledge. After my Biology degree, I was able to spend an intensive year studying Management to go alongside my science qualification. This was a great option as I knew I wanted a more business-focused role. If you don’t have this option, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways you can develop business skills during and after your science degree.

  1. Optional business modules as part of your degree

You might have the option of choosing modules that are not directly related to your main subject during your degree. If you know that you would like to explore business roles in your future career, it’s worth choosing business-focused modules to study. If this isn’t an option, find out if your university offers these online or as part of summer schools they run. This is also often an option for alumni, so if you have graduated, you might be able to take advantage of these, maybe at a discount.

  1. Internships

You can do internships during or after your degree. These are a great way of testing out industries and developing skills you can mention on your applications and during interviews. Even if the internships you are doing aren’t directly related to the industry you eventually want to enter, your experience will give you examples to demonstrate transferable skills. As a graduate, these are invaluable.  

  1. Online courses

Nowadays you can access learning online, both free and paid. You can learn about almost any subject online, via YouTube videos, blogs and social media groups. Have a look at university websites which sometimes post their academic material online. You can access a global range on the internet. There are also platforms like Coursera and MOOC that gather online courses you can search for.

  1. Extra-curricular activities

If you are still at university, take advantage of the clubs and societies you can join. Apart from socialising and pursuing personal interests, take up positions on committees of these clubs. These are a great way of demonstrating your leadership and decision-making skills. Often, these societies can feel like running mini-businesses and have roles like Treasurer or Event Organiser. By doing these roles, you are demonstrating proactivity and you can build practical business skills. You can then talk about these when applying for jobs.

If you have graduated, think about how you can do this by volunteering. You might have more of an idea of the industry you want to go into or role you want to do. You can therefore do volunteer week that’s more relevant to this, or even directly in the company you want to work for! Think about the skills you want to develop and target roles that will help you with this.

  1. Reading

There are a number of online and offline publications you can read that will accelerate your level of business knowledge. A few well know ones are Harvard Business Review, the Financial Times and The Economist. You can also Google articles and read press releases on your target company websites. This is a great thing to do to keep your industry knowledge up to date. Just remember, in terms of developing your business skills, it is best that you can apply what you learn in a practical sense. Consider doing this alongside other activities such as volunteering or an internship, and sharing your knowledge with others.

Whether you are still studying or have graduated, developing business skills is important to both prepare for a job application and as continuous development throughout your career. Even if you would like to do a more science-focused role, if you want to leave academia, you need business skills. Any role you do will have a wider remit that needs some type of soft or business skills for you to perform in the role effectively.  

If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, book a Beyond the Lab Breakthrough Session here.


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