Clinical Research Careers – a November Networking Event for ClinOps Toolkit

Let the networking event begin

The ClinOps Toolkit Networking Group met again on 11/14/13 for Clinical Research Careers

Last week I co-hosted the ‘Careers in Clinical Research‘ event with ClinOps Toolkit partner, Edge Alliance.  Thank you again to our sponsor and all the attendees for an evening filled with valuable clinical research career advice and great networking and conversation.  I set out to summarize the presentation for you in tonight’s blog post and then decided to share the info in a blog series over the next several days instead; our speaker Maurice Little had some really excellent advice in his presentation and it was a very full evening.

Part I – Career Development

Maurice began his talk encouraging everyone to have monthly check-in’s to assess the “status of your career.”  He emphasized how important it is to ask yourself, “What have I done well? What is important to me? What are my professional goals for the next 30 days?”. He suggested that in an effort to be strategic with how you spend your time at work, actually write down your plan and assess, “Is this logical? Possible?” There was a lot of audience participation and Gina, a new member of the Bay Area ClinOps Toolkit Networking group suggested that you should always be open to “adapt with direction.”  This really hit home with me and reinforced Maurice’s point that self-assessment is one part of the exercise and goal-setting and adapting the course are equally important.

The next concept Maurice shared with us was the idea that you should run your career as you would run a business. So if you were working for yourself, and you had no other options, “would you plan better?” “Would you have more focus?”  In summary, Maurice was encouraging us not to ‘phone-it-in’.  If your job was your personal business and you were a sole proprietor, you would work extremely hard all the time.  This actually leads us into part II of his talk.

Part II – Be Awesome

We work in drug development so that we can get important new therapies to patients who need them. Maurice reiterated how important it is to have purpose and be excited about the purpose of out work.  To illustrate his point, Maurice called on a  few of the attendees to describe how they start their day.  This part of the evening was pretty fun since he did some silly role-playing to drive home his point that “People that are successful start their day with a great attitude” and equal enthusiasm.

There was a break here for questions and insights from a few attendees. Liz Polvent of CluePoints told a really interesting anecdote from a job she held previously in her career. At that company, there was a CTA who wanted desperately to be a CRA but after three years in the junior role, was constantly being overlooked for promotion. The CTA was too afraid to take the risk of leaving her current job even when it was clear she would not be advancing from her CTA position at that company.  Liz summed up this segment with the recommendation that everyone in their career “take risks” because that is how you become awesome.

Part III – Find What Makes You Happy

Throughout the evening, Maurice reminded everyone that we have the ability to influence our career and be effective at our current job.  Unfortunately, it is human nature to be complacent, even if that means hanging around in an unsatisfying position or just sticking to our routine.  It takes less energy to resist change rather than affect the situation.  He noted that change is uncomfortable but it is important to “get out of the comfort zone.”

What a great crowd of networkers at the clinical research career event

What a great crowd of networkers!

Without even having to switch jobs, you can make adjustments in your current job simply by collaborating more with others or taking on new tasks that are outside of your role. If you are writing down your plans and aspirations for career development each month (see Part I above) then be faithful to those plans and be open to change and new opportunities at work.

If Love the One You’re With Isn’t Working…

The second half of the presentation focused more on job seeking including how to focus on the ideal opportunity, how to evaluate the opportunity, and “the dance” of interview preparation, conduct, and follow-up.  He peppered in a list of great questions you could be asking at your next interview and there was a lot more participation from the networking group on the topics of networking and interviewing advice.  I’m looking forward to sharing more of the take-aways with you tomorrow night in the next blog post in this series. We’ll pick things up for the second half with Part IV in the next post.



About The Author


Nadia Bracken, lead contributor to the Lead CRA blog and the ClinOps Toolkit blog, is a Clinical Program Manager in the San Francisco Bay Area.


  • cuz

    September 27, 2016

    Keep up the excellent job and generating the group!

  • I just want to share our clinical trial mobile app, you can view clinical studies posted by sponsors, it’s called Study Scavenger, you can download it on Google play and iTunes.

  • Marcia Stubblebine

    March 4, 2014


    Help with those job interviews tips.
    I will search the site and verify if the information is available.

    Passion oh how it is still alive!

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