John McCarterFor most people, a mid-life crisis happens in their 40’s or 50’s. For John McCarter, it hit him in his mid 20’s.

“I realized I hated what I was doing and the only way to take control of my career was to go back to school and get into a field with more, and varied, career opportunities,” said McCarter.

That’s when the Danville, Va. native discovered the Biotechnology graduate program in the Department of Clinical & Diagnostic Sciences.

For him, it was the perfect mix: close to family in Alabama and Atlanta and opportunities to capitalize on old and new proficiencies.

“The Biotechnology master’s program allowed me to gain the skills necessary to be useful in a laboratory setting, while also capitalizing on business skills I had developed after graduating from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in marketing,” said McCarter.

In just a year and a half, students in the Biotechnology program learn how to take research from the lab to the market. While in school, McCarter interned at Soluble Therapeutics, Inc. in Birmingham and then was hired as the Research and Business Development Associate when he graduated with his master’s degree in 2011. Less than a year later, he was promoted to director of business development where he manages the sales and marketing efforts as well as his lab expertise to keep projects moving forward and on time.

“I use the skills I learned in my program every day, whether it is media monitoring that allows me to stay on top of trends in the industry and identify potential new clients, or putting some gloves and a lab coat on to run an assay in the lab,” said McCarter.

His hard work has paid off. So far he has secured research and development contracts with six of the Top 20 global pharmaceutical companies and is leading the market launch of a new protein analytical instrument used in the development of biopharmaceutical products. Sales have increased two-fold since he became the director less than a year ago.

With that success, McCarter hasn’t left behind the program that helped him achieve his career. He not only serves on the School of Health Professions Junior Advisory Board, but he also manages the interns for his company.

“I do this because I believe this type of experience is invaluable for somebody looking to make a start in a new career,” said McCarter.

And he says you can’t be shy to make it in this business.

“Network, network, network,” said McCarter. “Don’t be afraid to approach leaders in your field for advice and information. And, clean up your social network profiles.”