MSL Mentor


Most of my blogs over the past year involve career advice focused around the BioPharma Medical Science Liaison role as a career path. I’ve spoken to many candidates considering transitioning to this rewarding specialty. Today’s blog is to make sure that you are asking the right questions of the right person, a MSL mentor, to create a personal best career strategy and an enhanced career trajectory.

Find a MSL Mentor

Do you have a MSL mentor? Someone whose career you respect enough to bounce ideas off of, or present your current career situation? Just having to organize your thoughts to tell someone what is going on in your career is a worthy exercise; now, imagine telling it to someone who might be able to enlighten you with their career experience. Seek out a mentor. Seriously, find one!

Baby Steps

Do you have a dream of where you’d like to be in your career in 10 years? Great! What about in 1 year? Ten years might be just a dream, a long-term goal, good to think about, but hard to plan. An underappreciated movie, What About Bob, with Bill Murray, a patient who can’t bring himself to leave his house, and Richard Dreyfuss, his psychologist, centers around advising Bill to take “Baby Steps.” It got Bill out of the house and “Baby Steps” will help you break down your goals into short segments using a MSL mentor instead of a psychologist. You might end up in your dream career role someday, but collaborating with a MSL mentor for changes that you can enact in just once around the sun will help you now. Let a series of short-term goals be your guide. Once begun, half done!

Emotional Quotient

Do you have strong EQ? Do you know what EQ is? I think it is probably the most important capability for success. Here is a quick couple of definitions: A person’s EQ is a measure of their interpersonal and communication skills. EQ is an abbreviation for emotional quotient. Having a high IQ is an advantage but having high EQ can make all the difference to your studies and future career. Emotional intelligence determines our ability to manage our feelings and relationships.

My understanding of EQ relates to another movie about the fate of mankind, Terminator 2. When Skynet becomes “self-aware” humans are in big trouble. Why not make an effort to be more self-aware in your career? Imagine being sent back in time and being able to correct mistakes you might have made. Now, pay it forward to yourself! A MSL mentor helps raise your EQ allowing you to figure out what mistakes you’ve made so you can learn from them, avoid them or, at the very least, not repeat them.

The Question Not Asked

Mentor/coach Tony Robbins proposes the following question to ask a mentor, What’s one question you wish you asked someone but didn’t? This may help spark a conversation that reveals “you don’t know what you don’t know” information.


Ask mentors questions that provoke a story like, How did you end up in your current role? Or questions that help define a situation like, When is the right time for a career transition? These questions have a purpose but they are open-ended. That openness may reveal a better way to go about what you are seeking to accomplish, or even what is the right thing to seek to accomplish. Remember strategy is your intent and tactics are your actions. Strategy and tactics must be aligned or you’ll miss your goals. Put your ladder up against the right wall! The more you can explore the situation through stories the better you can hone in on the best way for you to proceed. As the saying goes, don’t reinvent the wheel but make sure you understand what goes around comes around!

Find a MSL mentor, a confidant for strategy in your career, and remember from The Big Lebowski that the Dude Abides! Interesting in hiring or starting a job hunt? Contact Smith Hanley Associates’ Dude in Medical Science Liaison recruiting, Nihar Parikh at [email protected].

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