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Goop! The Messy Necessity of Life-Sciences Career Transitions

Gone are the days where you spend decades in the same role at the same company. Career transitions are the new normal. In a decade your current role and/or organization might not even exist!

Each change ushers in a new phase of transition. Totally normal…but not always pretty. Adjusting to a new role can be uncomfortable, and it can feel chaotic as you figure things out. This is true no matter how organized you are personally – whether or not you let the inner chaos show.

A Personal Experience

I went through a similar transition in my new role as an account manager at Seuss Consulting. Not only was I doing Business Development for the first time, but I was also doing it in a new country (I had only been living in the Netherlands for a year at the time). My background was more in operations (clinical-trial operations to be exact) and sales was new to me. I struggled to organize my sales activities the way I used to organize clinical-trial activities. As committed as I was, I felt lost. I needed to find my footing in my new role. Well, really I needed to find totally new feet – essentially I needed to re-form my professional self.

Let’s just say it wasn’t easy. I felt strange and uncertain; I knew who and what I wanted to be, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was making me feel so odd…until I read an article by Martha Beck. In it, she explained the metamorphosis process of a caterpillar: how, inside the cocoon, the creature actually liquefies while the cells rearrange. The insect is in a vulnerable liquid state, uncertain and unformed – but actually it’s going through a restructuring process, perceptibly solidifying in its new form a little at a time. She called this liquid in-between state a “glop” – however, whenever I looked back on this article, I thought about it as a “goop.”

Feeling like a failure is a terrible feeling and admitting that you feel this way to your team is even worse. Luckily, I did feel comfortable expressing my uncertainties to my wonderfully supportive team and, luckily, I had just the perfect word to explain what I was going through: goop. Everyone understood my struggle.

Going through the Goop

When we’re the new guy or gal on a project or otherwise stepping into a new role or team, we’re just like this: “not a caterpillar, not yet a butterfly.” However, under the messy exterior, we’re restructuring. Reforming and gradually solidifying our new state.

The word “goop” itself might make you cringe a little, and the whole idea of this sticky, gloppy state is a little…unpalatable. But it’s just as necessary and unavoidable for our career rebirths in our work life cycle as it is for the caterpillar’s great transformation. Take comfort in the fact that we all go through it at some point or another. Increasingly, at many points over our career.

Also: don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We’ve all been there. And mistakes are often the best way to learn. They will help your boss and your whole team learn, too. (Not to mention lead to better, more specific advice to help you grow in your new role.)

The more metamorphoses you’ve undergone, the more valuable you could end up being for your team. Work hard, learn and explore – and before you know it you might even find it (gasp) fun! Embrace the goop. Trust in the process.

Those of us in the pharma-recruitment industry are familiar with transitions, and this this is especially true in the dynamic clinical-trial industry, where not only do many people change companies, but even within a given clinical-trial company, there are always new trials, products and innovations demanding new tasks and talents. You might find yourself working on a new project (within your company or at another) every year, even. This means that there are plenty of opportunities to “goop.”

We’ve definitely embraced it: “goop” is now also a part of the Seuss lexicon. Many of us use the word to describe when we’re adjusting to a new assignment or project and we have to re-form our processes. We’re still exploring what it means and how to goop better – how to help our team members and our candidates feel more comfortable going through these career transitions. Expect to hear more from us here on how to recognize when someone is in the goop and how to help them through it!

Written by Jessica Kundapur,Seuss Recruitment Relationship Manager and international life-sciences career butterfly. Hiring Managers: If you are seeking international life-sciences professionals, contact Seuss Recruitment at +31(0) 20 29 00 016 or email: Candidates: If you are seeking life-science career support and opportunities, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for more advice.