Thanks to Mad Hatter for getting this forum rolling! I'm not a blogger, but when she posted the original list of participants here there didn't seem to be anyone from the Big Pharma side, so I thought I'd chime in.
I did my PhD in a model system molecular biology lab. By the time I finished, I'd already decided I wanted to pursue a career in biotech or pharma. I looked into those options then, and found that PhD positions basically required a postdoc. I thought about industry postdocs, but was advised that the same track to get a faculty position was the recommended one here as well: go to the hottest lab you can get into and get high-profile publications. (More on these topics in future posts.)
So I went to the hottest megalab I could get into, which was -- let's just say it had its good points and its drawbacks. After a too-long postdoc, and a too-long job search covering pharmas, biotechs and national labs, I landed a position in one of the large pharmaceutical companies, and have been there for several years. By and large, it's easily been the most pleasant stretch of my career in research.
Why industry? The biggest reason is that I wanted to do something that provided tangible benefit to people. Not to belittle basic research at all, but I personally was tired of producing incremental bits of knowledge that might have some non-zero chance to (as the R01 applications always put it) "lead to a potential treatment for cancer", and wanted to get a lot closer to really doing it. Secondarily, after spending years feeling shackled to my and my wife's PI's, I just couldn't see spending the rest of my career on the opposite side of that relationship.
When I got there, I spent the first few months trying to decipher the blizzard of abbreviations and jargon that describe a research and development process I barely understood. The second or third day, I decided to hit Google and find something that might get me oriented. That's how I found In The Pipeline, and I can't begin to say how helpful Derek's posts (and attached comments) were. Despite its slant towards chemistry, the biggest recommendation I'd have for anyone interested in learning about pharma work and culture is to read through his archives. Seriously -- pick topics from the sidebar and read through them.
In general, until recently the chemistry blogs were the only science-related blogs I read, as their focus on their work and workplaces was of much more interest to me than the various obsessions of the life sciences people. It's only recently that nuts-and-bolts discussions (like the ones here) have started catching on on the biomed side, and it's a welcome development.
So, what would you like me to talk about? Things I'd had in mind included: explanations of the drug development process, the various jobs involved, the hiring process, myths about industry work. (Pablo Achard scooped me on the analysis of the FASEB study I'd planned to do next!) But I'd very much welcome any suggested topics.