Thirteen years ago, cell biology postdoc Lisa Belmont "took a blind leap into a tiny biotechnology company" and became "employee number four." Within months, the firm's shaky finances convinced her to look elsewhere, and she moved to a much larger, rapidly growing biotech company where as "employee number 90" she put her finely honed skills to an unexpected use: cancer research. Five years after that, she joined Genentech as "employee number 10,000 (approximately.)"

"So, what's it really like to work in biotech?" It's quite different from academe, she explains in an informative essay with that title published in Molecular Biology of the Cell. Scientists "in industry settings work as part of large, multidisciplinary teams. This requires relinquishing the degree of intellectual freedom allowed in academia but offers an increased opportunity to see the fruits of one's labor translate into products with the potential to positively impact human or environmental health," she writes.

"Nearly all industrial projects are carried out by multidisciplinary teams," she continues. "I love this aspect of industry, as I enjoy working with experts in other disciplines, projects move forward quickly, and you learn about other fields without having to be an expert."

To find out more about the benefits as well as the challenges of doing science in industry, plus Belmont's advice on how to land such a job, you can read her essay here.

Beryl Lieff Benderly writes from Washington, D.C.