When I selected Biotechnology (Biotech) during my scholarship application more than a decade ago, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. At that time, the then Prime Minister had just launched the National Biotechnology Policy, and ‘Biotechnology’ became the hot search term and talk of the people. I too jumped on the bandwagon and got a Biotech degree. For me, my area of interest was Pharmaceutical which I discovered along the way as I was doing my degree which led me to graduate in Bachelor of Biotechnology, majoring in Drug Design and Development, and later on a Masters in Biotechnology, Bioprocessing, and Business Management.
So, what can you really do with a Biotech degree? The answer is: so many things! The most common pathway with a Biotech degree is to pursue postgraduate studies and be in academia or research. However, in Malaysia, research within the private sector is very limited as most research is limited to academia based/public sector. If that is what you’re interested in: go for it!. However, if research is not for you, fret not as there are many other options that you can pursue.
Besides research, you can venture into Regulatory Affairs where you will be working closely with regulatory bodies to ensure that the product is safe and effective for the consumers. Regulatory Affairs is not limited to pharmaceutical products, but it is also needed for medical devices, veterinary products, cosmetics, pesticides and agrochemicals. This role involves being familiar with the regulations not only in Malaysia but of other countries too. The role is not limited to only product registration, but it also includes conducting audits, managing customer complaints, and ensuring compliance. A lot of paperwork is involved here.
If you like doing paperwork, another option is Quality Control or Quality Assurance (QAQC). As the name suggests, your job is to ensure that the products that you produced meet the quality aspects that have been set out and there is no defect in the end-product. QAQC works closely with the manufacturing team to ensure all aspects of quality are adhered to; from the sourcing of the raw material, to the manufacturing process till the end-product reaches the end user.
Alternatively, you can also be involved in New Product Development with a Biotech degree. You may not necessarily be doing the research and development yourself, but you are more of a project coordinator liaising with various stakeholders to ensure that the development proceeds according to the planned timeline and budget. As a project coordinator, you get to learn the roles of various stakeholders in developing a product, from the preliminary research stage till the product reaches the market.
If your interest lies in the commercial side of a business, you might want to consider sales and marketing roles. Salespersons are specialists for a product and you tend to be out in the field meeting customers. As a salesperson, your working hours are quite flexible but you have a monthly sales target that you need to achieve. On the other hand, a marketeer is basically the person who plan and strategize on how you want to sell the product, what message you are sending to your customer as well as monitoring the market and your competitors.
These are just some options based on my personal experience, because in the end, what you do with your Biotech degree depends on your interests and your career goals. Other career options include; manufacturing personnel, a recruiter, halal auditor, pharmacovigilance, clinical trials, lab technician, and even a teacher. So, if you think that you want to pursue a degree in Biotech but you don’t know what your career path will be like, don’t worry, there are many options for you to choose from after you don that graduation robe. The choice is in your hands.