How did you get your first job in this field?
After graduating from the University California, Irvine I worked for a biomedical research firm developing a bio medical device for type II diabetics. While at the firm, I bumped into FDA Investigators conducting an inspection. As we conversed, they shared information on job opportunities at FDA.
Did you have any relevant experience or training?
Yes, the science usually required of FDA hires. My major in college was in microbial ecology with an emphasis on criminal forensic science, and I had experience in the medical research arena after graduating from college, so I had plenty of experience. The science foundation background has helped me tremendously in my career at FDA. I also took some criminal justice courses for my masters at the University of LaVerne, which were helpful.
Describe your typical day at work.
The Import Operations side of FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs is a very dynamic field. Each day brings new and unexpected challenges to be handled. You have to flexible and prepare yourself for anything that may come across your office. Globalization has made the work that FDA performs more complex and so you constantly have to educate yourself on new products and trends. A typical day is looking through a list of priorities that relate to FDA regulated products coming through the seaports and airports under my responsibility, and assuring that they are all processed appropriately and that we catch those “hazards” to public health.
What advice would you give someone seeking a career in your field?
If someone were seeking a career in FDA, I would say get your science degree or enough science units to get an internship at an FDA field office. The internship will expose you to some of the work you may come across as an FDA Investigator or any of the other FDA positions being offered.
How do you see the future of the profession? What are the positions in this field with the most potential for growth?
I see the Import Operations side of FDA growing. With so much emphasis in global expansion, it is inevitable that this field will offer diverse opportunities. Right now FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs is expanding potential career growth opportunities by having Import Consumer Safety Officers (investigators) conduct foreign inspections. In addition we are currently developing more in house expertise in specific aspects of the new food legislation (the Food Safety and Modernization Act) that are in demand, like the Foreign Supplier Verification Program and supply chain expertise.