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Katie Thursfield, Director of Content at LetsGetChecked, on Pursuing Non-Traditional Roles in the Health Technology Sector
Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Katie Thursfield enjoys spending time with friends and taking advantage of good weather. “Ireland is not renowned for its weather,” Katie laughs. “So when we do get sun, we like to make the most of it.”
When she’s not soaking up the sun in the great outdoors or listening to a great podcast in her downtime, you can find her mindfully managing her team as the Director of Content at LetsGetChecked, a healthcare solutions company that empowers individuals to be their own health advocates.
We sat down with her to learn more about her career, creating patient-focused medical-related content that helps bridge the communication gap between patients and medical professionals. Keep reading to hear her story and her advice to women who are looking to advance in the Biotech space.
Combining Business and Science
Katie started off in pursuit of an art major. “I had all the interest and passion for art, but none of the skill,” she laughs. After this realization, she decided to pursue a completely unrelated degree — Science in University College Dublin. “I loved science because it was logical and results-generated,” she says. “You could pick apart something that seemed incredibly complex into its basic components and pathways and make it easier to understand.” Guided by her love for art and intrigue of the human body, she chose to major in physiology.
“I suppose I chose physiology over the other science branches because you can often see it,” says Katie. “There's a visual cue, a visual representation of what you’re looking at, whether it’s a tissue type or cell structure. I always felt this is what led me to pursue it.”
After completing her degree in physiology, Katie knew that she didn’t want to work in the traditional lab setting. "I loved the idea of theory in science, and we had a lot of brilliant opportunities to work in labs, which [I] enjoyed. But I just couldn't see myself doing it long term,” she elaborates. “I wanted to branch into the business a little more to understand the bigger picture of the market.” So she started a master's degree in Business and Biotechnology. “Coming from a purely science-based course, it was a really interesting perspective as it brought science into the business world, and provided insight into how these global leaders in the biotechnology industry bring their products to the market, how they are developed and regulated, and how they respond to the market impact,” she explains. “It gave you a 360-degree view, from the financial side to marketing of pharmaceuticals and other biotechnology products.”
Her newfound passion for science in business led her to an internship at a 3D medical education platform. That internship turned into a full-time job offer, and eventually, Katie grew her career there, where she was able to work on impactful projects that helped students globally. “The concept was based on the gap in the market where medical students were missing a take-home tool to accurately represent the 3D relationships between the body, like how all the muscles intertwine and where tendons attach and how bones are laid,” Katie shares. “We created a platform for medical students to leverage.” This platform helps students conceptualize the human body beyond textbooks and cadavers.
Production of this tool required Katie to communicate the complexities of the human body in a comprehensive and digestible way to artists with limited scientific backgrounds. “It was about finding a counterpoint in the non-science world to open up that communication channel,” she shares. “For muscles, we would use meat as a reference, because everyone knows what that looks like. For tendons, we would use things like fiber material, and cotton wool. There's such a storytelling aspect to science.”
After nearly three years at that company, Katie began looking for another professional opportunity where she could leverage her storytelling and communication skills in the healthcare field.
“I came to LetsGetChecked three years ago because of the type of impactful innovation that they were putting into play. I was following their story and the route to care they were presenting as a solution to so many who need it was really motivating,” she shares. LetsGetChecked is a healthcare solutions company that allows customers to manage their health from home through direct access to diagnostic testing, virtual care, and medication delivery for a wide range of health and wellness conditions
Katie first joined as a Content Strategist and has moved up to Senior Content Manager, and now Director of Content serving both the marketing and product needs across the business. Her team’s main goal is to create patient-centered content that focuses on the needs of the consumer. “It's about understanding what the patient needs and making sure that they feel confident in taking control of their health,” she elaborates. “We know what the pain points are in the current healthcare landscape globally, so we try to identify what they're motivated by, and help them understand that we have this incredible solution that's accessible and affordable.”
One of Katie’s main focuses is strategically finding ways to get the right message out to the right people, especially those with limited healthcare access. “We hear time and time again that patients are feeling unheard, or they feel that healthcare is out of reach both physically and financially. Introducing a service that is such a new concept to people offers its challenges, especially as there is such a trust-building element. What we find is the patient’s voice is the most powerful tool for us because we’re always trying to improve and enhance the experience. Positive feedback about how our tests are saving lives is really the most powerful motivator.” ,” Katie shares.
Katie has been able to build an incredible team of mostly women who are medical writers, campaign creators, and UX copywriters, all working together towards a patient-focused mission.
“So much of what we're doing is translating a service that has been an interpersonal one, and taking that level of assurance and communication into a platform that you can access from the comfort of your home,” Katie explains. “Our best method is to make sure that we're putting ourselves in the shoes of the patient, figuring out how they can feel the most informed and know exactly what to do next.”
Advice for Women in Science
Being an active voice in the Biotech industry is exciting, but at times it can be challenging and competitive. “It’s such an innovative space. There's a lot of energy in it and I know that people are always striving to improve on what they have,” Katie shares. “It's by no means a stagnant area of the market.” Katie offers the following advice to women pursuing a career in science.
- Shake off your preconceptions. “I can completely appreciate that specific industries are associated with a male-led workforce, and that can be intimidating. I’ve been lucky enough to have strong female leaders in the form of professors and mentors throughout my degrees and career which helped shift that stereotype,” Katie says. “At LetsGetChecked, we have an almost all-female content team and a strong female representation in our wider marketing team. I think that many of the newer companies in the health technology sector in general strongly believe that gender isn’t what drives success, it’s an innovative mind and a strong work ethic. If you find an environment that motivates you to grow, give it your all.”
- Pursue different areas of science. The career options for scientists may seem a bit limited, but Katie encourages women to look beyond traditional medical or lab roles. “Science is an incredible jumping-off point,” Katie says. “I've now worked in two companies that have teams of doctors, nurses, and scientists that wanted to work in a setting that wasn't the most traditional.” Remember, the opportunities are there. “Don't feel pigeonholed into a handful of roles off the back of a science degree, because the areas of health technology and biotechnology are rapidly expanding and diversifying in the types of roles that are available. There are countless roles that literally didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago simply because the technology wasn’t there, but with the expansion of telehealth services there is always a new avenue to pursue.”
Are you ready to combine your passion for science with business and technology? Check out LetsGetChecked’s open roles here!
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
💎Having curriculum gaps doesn’t necessarily imply a disadvantage in the recruiting process. Watch the video to the end to learn how to walk through them in an interview.
📼Worried about your curriculum gaps? Evan Farren and Ânia Sá, Talent Acquisition Specialists at LetsGetChecked, share advice on how to feel comfortable talking about gaps in education, experience, or employment when applying for a position.
📼 Curriculum gaps can be concerns for potential employers, but they're not necessarily deal breakers. Your recruiter will likely ask you for more information, but even if they don't, you should walk them through any gaps or moves, your reasons for those, and what you were doing during that time. This will help to alleviate any concerns that your recruiter or the hiring manager may have. And remember: be honest throughout the process!
📼If your curriculum has gaps in education, don’t feel discouraged to apply. LetsGetChecked understands that not everyone has been afforded the same opportunities. For this reason, they are working where possible to remove any education or qualification requirements from job descriptions and let your experience do the talking. Just be sure that you have plenty of examples prepared so that your interviewers can see the full benefit of your experience!
Relevant Experience Beats Curriculum Gaps - Get Through The Interview Process
A candidate will get an interview at LetsGetChecked if they are qualified for the position and have relevant experience working in a similar environment and industry. The tech interview process usually has four steps. The first step is a quick call with the recruiter to talk about motivation, experience, salary expectations, and availability to start. The second step is a 45-minute tech screening call with two tech members. The third step is an offline exercise plus a full technical interview and the exercise will be the base of the interview. The fourth and last step is a cultural fit interview with the team lead. Keep in mind that during an interview, it's important not only to show your experience with specific tools, languages, and procedures for a job but also the right motivations!
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining LetsGetChecked? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Evan Farren and Ânia Sá
More About LetsGetChecked
LetsGetChecked is a virtual care company that allows customers to manage their health from home, providing direct access to telehealth services, pharmacy, and laboratory tests with at-home sample collection kits for a wide range of health conditions including Sexual Health, Cholesterol, Diabetes, Thyroid, Coronavirus (COVID-19), and more. Founded in 2015, the company empowers people with the care they need to live longer, happier lives. Today, LetsGetChecked is a leader in healthcare innovation with an end-to-end model including manufacturing, logistics, lab analysis, affiliated physician support, and prescription fulfillment, which provides a seamless user experience and a convenient, reliable and secure healthcare experience.
Lucy Wang only has one regret about her career in product marketing: that it took so long for her to find it.
“I switched between different lanes quite a bit early in my career, before I finally hit product marketing,” she says. “I wish that I had had a program or network of mentors to go to and say ‘Hey, I’m an engineer, but my passion is connecting with people. There are so many roles within marketing. I don’t know which one is cut out for me. Can you give me some advice?’”
She did figure it out eventually, building off of long and productive stints in marketing functions at Microsoft and Amazon, among other places. Currently, she is a Director and Head of Product Marketing at security software company Veracode. And now more than ever, she’s focused on paying back her hard-earned knowledge and perspective.
“I bumped around and figured it out years later, but I could’ve avoided some pitfalls,” she says. “And now I feel passionate about providing mentorship to others so they can avoid some of those detours.”
We sat down with Lucy to hear more about what advice she has for those considering a career in product marketing — including which soft skills are really necessary (and perhaps even more necessary than hard, coding-based skills) to succeed.
There’s one question Lucy asks all of her mentees when their relationship begins: “What’s your passion? That doesn’t mean the industry that gives you the highest pay. We spend a lot of time at work and if that’s not something you feel passionate about, you’ll feel burned out very quickly.”
As a student, Lucy considered educational psychology as a life-defining passion, but later found her passion elsewhere. She was in Seattle in the early 2000’s and saw how the tech field was taking off and impacting daily life, and she decided to give it a try.
Growing up, her engineer father had stressed the importance of pragmatic thinking and problem-solving skills, which served her well in her first tech role. She did a master’s in computer systems to deepen her knowledge, and her hard-working approach helped her make it through several rounds of layoffs when the dot com bubble burst.
But working through turbulent times made Lucy realize that pure engineering was not her true calling.
“I felt passion and energy from connecting with people,” she reflects. She took on some management roles and even ended up doing an MBA. Several jobs later, she found herself at Microsoft, where she had her first “true, bonafide product marketing experience.”
That’s when it all clicked for her. “I have a special knack for positioning and messaging a very technical product in a way that people understand,” says Lucy. “I can explain and sell things to someone who knows little about my industry.”
When it came to subject matter, Lucy jumped at the chance to head up the marketing for Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure (Platform as a Service) and later AWS’ portfolio of databases.
“Everybody was moving to the cloud; it was a full digital transformation,” she says. “People were freaking out about how to do that, and I understood that pain.”
Embracing cloud meant dealing with a new set of security concerns, which set Lucy up well to transition to Veracode when the opportunity came up.
“Customers had to think about business continuity when migrating to the cloud. If we transition to the cloud, what happens to our portfolio of applications? Can they continue to run without a break? What about cyber attacks? These are real topics people have to worry about.”
Passion + Skillset = Impact
Passion is the first step in Lucy’s framework for finding meaningful work — but the second is knowing that you can make a difference.
“When you feel passionate about something and you have the skill sets to bring value to the table, you are helping the business to do better down the road. It’s pretty powerful and fulfilling,” she says.
That’s what led Lucy to take a role at Veracode. She was interested in the security field, having worked through related problems for cloud products and also in her own personal life, where she’d dealt with data breaches twice as a customer of her bank.
She also liked that Veracode was a mid-sized company where she could really visualize making an impact.
“It’s not a small company, but it’s small enough for you to make a sizable impact,” she says. That’s been especially true during the last year and a half of the Great Resignation, she notes, which has put pressure on her and all managers to step up their game and really have an employee-first mentality.
“You cannot be their authority figure. That’s so 1980. You have to be the coach, the mentor, the shoulder that they can lean on in life. It’s extremely important that they’re happy, that they can feel safe and motivated to do more. You start by showing them what you can do for them: how you can enable them, how you can help unblock them, and how you can help them build a career here,” says Lucy.
Lucy is excited about the parallel problems she is currently working to solve — first, how to bring Veracode’s security platform to its target customers, and second, how to build a team that can empower customers while fulfilling their career goals at the same time.
5 Key Soft Skills for Product Marketing
When Lucy is hiring for her team — or even helping to interview for other teams within the company — she’s looking for a range of abilities, and few of them are hard skills.
“People think you have to be a nerdy person. You have to be a math genius to find a job here. That’s so not true,” she says. “If you have the right passion, portable skills, and a can-do, can-learn attitude, you will find a job in tech.”
Here are some of the key soft skills Lucy looks for and helps her mentees foster:
- Creative problem-solving. “If you want to grow faster, you have to find gaps and you have to find solutions to fill those gaps. People hire you for a reason. They have a real business problem to solve. So you come in, identify the problem, come up with a solution, and execute.”
- Getting curious. “Curiosity is really important. If you are curious about how things work, then you'll come up with something even better than what is already in place.”
- Building relationships with people who are doing what interests you. “This helps you get the real detail, the real download on what roles are like, and also gives you a support system like mentors you can go and ask for help.”
- Empathy. “I’ve seen many great [women] leaders in IT who, on top of having the same brain power as any other gender, have a special ability to nurture and connect, which I have found powerful and refreshing.”
- Accepting your mistakes. “You want to learn through the mistakes. Don't beat yourself up for small mistakes; there's no need to do that. If you don’t make any, when something bad does happen you won’t know how to deal with it.”
Overall, Lucy wants other women and underrepresented groups to have confidence in themselves — and to not cut themselves off from a promising career before even trying it out.
“All these other people, they seem to have everything. But underneath the calm surface, they also panic, just like you do,” she says, smiling. “Have confidence in yourself.”