April 27, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Happy Beginnings | Gilkey Achieves Rapid Career Success at Quidel

Emma Gilkey, portrait

Emma Gilkey

Editor’s Note: The Happy Beginnings series features recent College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

Since Emma (Kessler) Gilkey graduated from OHIO in 2017, she has established an impressive career trajectory.

As a Biochemistry major, she began working at Quidel as a Quality Control Technician II. In the summer of 2018, she transitioned to an exciting new role: Reagent BioChemist I at Quidel. Now she’s aProtein Biochemist II at Quidel.

From Graves’ Disease Research to Purifying Antibodies

During her time as a QC Tech II, Gilkey mostly worked with antibodies, testing them for purity and concentration and making sure they were specific to what they were meant to identify. She also worked with Quidel’s cell-based bioassay sold under the brand name “Thyretain,” which is used to identify Graves’ Disease (a thyroid condition).

“I worked on value assignment for the controls for the Thyretain assay and made sure the cells and reagents were functioning as they’re supposed to,” she says.

Now, in her role as a Reagent BioChemist I, she specifically works as a Protein Chemist, which allows her to have a larger role in the manufacturing process.

“Now I work on purifying antibodies, conjugating or binding them to molecules so we can see them and identify them. I also make other special or rare reagents,” Gilkey says.

A Great Start at OHIO

Gilkey was delighted to discover that so many of the skills and techniques she learned at OHIO transferred seamlessly to her employment at Quidel. In particular, she points to her biochemistry lab and genetic engineering course as laying the groundwork for her career, noting that these classes allowed her to “feel comfortable coming into this position.”

Her Quidel interviewers commented on the number of lab courses she took and praised her level of preparedness.

“Listing all those techniques that I had experience with or was familiar with on my résumé and application was really helpful, so they knew what they wouldn’t have to train me to do and what they would have to train me to do. Also, conducting research was so helpful—I had been involved in research for a few years, so having that investigative lab experience also gave me a competitive edge,” she says.

Gilkey encourages OHIO students to become involved with their professors’ research projects and labs whenever possible. Oftentimes, she notes, joining a lab is as simple as asking a professor if he or she is willing to take on student researchers.

“Students really just have to look at what their professors are doing in their department and simply talk to the professors. A lot of them are really more than happy to bring you in and teach you, even if you’re a first-year or second-year student. Definitely try to get on a research team!” she suggests.

The Value of an Arts & Sciences Education

Gilkey explains that her time at OHIO was greatly enriched by the nature of an Arts & Sciences education, which allowed her to specialize in Biochemistry while also exploring other areas.

“I took a lot of courses in Spanish, and some in Sociology, and other things that I was interested in, and it was really nice to be able to learn a well-rounded number of subjects. It’s good to be a master of your own field but also have information about other fields,” she says.

Advice for OHIO Job Seekers

Gilkey advises OHIO students who will soon enter the job market to apply to any job that interests them, even if it’s a dream job for which they feel somewhat under-qualified. “Just try—the worst they can say is ‘no,’” she suggests.

Gilkey also recommends utilizing the résumé as a way of highlighting any skills one has developed, and to think broadly about how to market oneself. Don’t be afraid, she suggests, to list a job that doesn’t quite relate to the position for which one is applying after graduation.

“I wasn’t sure about some things I had on my résumé, like jobs I had in restaurants during school, but my Quidel interviewers really liked to see that I was balancing school, a job, and other responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to list everything and say, ‘Look at all the things I’ve done.’ Show them what you can offer!”

About Quidel

quidel logoQuidel Corp. is a leading manufacturer of diagnostic healthcare solutions serving to enhance the health and well-being of people around the globe with well-known and respected products that provide healthcare professionals with accurate and cost-effective diagnostic information at the point of care. Its core competencies and capabilities focus on immunoassay and molecular testing in the areas of infectious disease, women’s health, and virology.

Quidel is headquartered in San Diego, with research and manufacturing operations in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Germany. Quidel and Ohio University are working together to support alumni in pursuit of rewarding career opportunities.

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