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Starting out in your career can be overwhelming. Whether you’ve just finished school, graduated from college, or are thinking about a change of career, you might be wondering which path to take. We spoke to two of our team members about their career journey, decisions they made and advice they have for people about to do the same.

Molly, Manager of our therapist training programme in Europe, at her graduation 

Choosing a career after graduating can be difficult, how did you decide what to do and did you receive any help?
I was really interested in mental health research and knew that I wanted to do something that made a visible impact in improving mental health. I wouldn’t say that I knew what I wanted my career to be, but I knew what I wanted my career to do in a wider context. I didn’t have specific career advice, but rather help from those around me in thinking about what my values were and how I wanted to live those. There was also a bit of a ‘go with the flow’ element, and I think it’s okay not to know what you want to be when you grow up – you’re always going to be in the process of growing up.

What do you do on a typical day?
I manage the European side of our therapist training programme. This involves working on the operational aspects of recruiting and training therapists, but also thinking about the content of the training programme and the support provided to patients by therapists. A typical day could be filled with so many different things – it’s a very varied role!

What attracted you to join a startup like Compass?
I kind of fell into working at Compass, but feel very grateful and lucky to have done so. The work that Compass does is definitely aligned with the kind of work I wanted to do, and I love that the company feels very personal. In a startup, what you do matters and has a lot of impact (which is sometimes quite a scary thought!).

You joined Compass as Team Coordinator and now you’re the European Therapist Training Manager. Tell us about your career progression here …
I’ve had three different roles while at Compass: Team Coordinator, Therapist Training Coordinator, and European Therapist Training Manager. Each role has built on the last and come with a bit more responsibility. I joined Compass in a more general role, but soon moved fully to the therapist training programme, finding it fascinating. At first, the internal therapist training team was tiny, and now it has blossomed into a larger team across both sides of the Atlantic.

What are your top tips for new graduates to make a mark in a new organisation?
Be interested, be curious, and be proactive.

Choosing a career after graduating can be difficult, how did you decide what to do and did you receive any help?
I was actually pretty unsure what to do as graduation approached. After speaking to my university tutor, I decided to take a joint masters course covering business and science modules, that also included a three-month project placement in industry. The course helped me to diversify my knowledge and get some practical experience, and I also got lots of career advice. For the project placement, I was working with a small pre-clinical contract research organisation (CRO) and here I started to learn all about the commercial research industry. Before this, I hadn’t heard of these types of companies and was only really aware of pharma companies. The placement ended up being my spring board into the industry and led to me working at larger CROs and then within the NHS.

What is your role and what do you do on a typical day?
I am a project manager within the clinical operations team. I oversee clinical trial execution and progression for trials that Compass is running.

What attracted you to join a start up like Compass?
I was interested in mental health and the area Compass was conducting research in. This was a personal motivation, I think everyone has someone close to them (if not themselves) who has been impacted by struggles with mental health. Being able to contribute to making a difference in this space was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up. Additionally, I was keen to work at a start-up and have the opportunities that come with that. For example, the learning opportunities, getting to work directly with experts in the field (a big motivation for me) and take ownership of work that might otherwise not be given to you in a larger organisation.

You joined Compass as Associate Project Manager and now you’re Project Manager of Clinical Operations. Tell us about your career progression here…
Progression has been really fast, I started off managing the set up for a small number of investigator-initiated studies helping with contracts, drugs supply arrangements and regulatory submissions. Now I am the project manager for our phase 2b global multicentre trial for psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression, and last year I managed our phase 1 trial for healthy volunteers. It has really been a great experience so far overall, not without its challenges though of course!

What are your top tips for new graduates to make a mark in a new organisation?
Listen and learn as much as you can, take in as much info as you can – this experience will help you down the line. Don’t be afraid of speaking up – asking for help if you aren’t sure of something is really important. Equally, realising the value of your perspective and feeling comfortable to share this appropriately, will help anyone to make their mark.

Sam, our Project Manager of Clinical Operations, just after joining Compass

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