A Day in the Life of a Benchling Product Specialist with Aishwarya Raj

Kyrstin Lou Ward

About Aishwarya Raj

Benchling Product Specialists are part of our Customer Experience team. They directly support customers as they use Benchling to transform how their research teams work together. We hire people with all kinds of science and business experience  — in this post, you’ll get to know Aishwarya Raj who received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and her law degree from Northwestern University while working at Benchling.

Why did you decide to study life sciences at university?

Aishwarya: My journey to science started because I really liked biochemistry and how it applied across different disciples. The application of biochemistry also led me to topics in bioinformatics, where I became interested in how we can apply computation to biology. Part of my research during college centered around systems biology in how biological networks can have characteristics and patterns, and we were able to use social networks, and network theory as a basis for understanding how biological networks can behave by scale such as from a gene to organism. From there, I increasingly developed an interest in the flow of data and it’s authenticity rather than the data itself, and this is why I became very interested in topics like security and validation during my masters.

Why did you start looking for jobs like the Benchling Product Specialist (BPS) position instead of research or other life sciences positions?

A: While research in itself is fascinating, I think the value of being a Product Specialist is that I am able to dive into multiple areas of research across different industries which I ordinarily would not be able to do.

Tell us more about what it’s like to be onboarded to a new company during a pandemic.

A: Virtual onboarding was a bit daunting at first, but I felt supported during my entire onboarding process. Everyone was willing to answer my questions from perspectives of the job to Benchling culture, and it removed the barrier of feeling like we only existed in the cloud. The BPS team works well together, but we also work well cross-functionally at Benchling!

What does a typical day look like for a BPS?

A: We usually start out with emails or support tickets that comes in. We want to answer our customers’ questions and ensure that they’re well supported in a timely manner. From there, our work depends on what our individual project may be. For me, there’s a lot of configuration work, validated cloud documentation or tasks, and thinking about solutioning for different customer needs. At the end of the day, I may have planning or cross-functional meetings to see if my work can meet the needs of customers.

What does mentorship look like for a BPS? 

A: I see mentorship in a few ways: camaraderie, onboarding, and management. The camaraderie part of mentorship is ensuring that someone feels supported, that they’re part of our team, and that they can see the value of their work. The onboarding part of mentorship is ensuring the person understands the breakdown of our products and how to translate that into a scientific workflow. I like to tell new BPS teammates that we’re building a home for clients in Benchling, but ultimately the customer has to live in it, so how do we build a home that makes sense for them? Mentorship through management is also important because your manager learns more about your interests and motivations, and can hopefully align your projects with your goals.

Can you tell us more about the culture on the BPS team?

A: I really like our team culture! Socially, we have our own Slack channel where we send each other funny memes or stories we see online. We also have weekly coffee chats to take a break during our day. For work, we have a culture of reliability. We’ll pick up each other’s pieces if needed and we can help each other with  particular challenges if someone needs a subject matter expert. Small things like this make our team’s connection a lot stronger, so I feel like we’re a bit closer (and better) than other teams. ;-)

Why should people who study life science consider a BPS position?

A: The BPS position is really valuable because you’re able to utilize your background you developed during university and translate it to Benchling’s applications across different industries and research areas. In the BPS position, my skills in life sciences and computational biology were puzzle pieces that were waiting to be put together, and they formed in a very complementary fashion.

Any advice for students who are looking for internships or new graduate positions?

A: The best advice I can give someone who is looking for an internship or new graduate position is to look at the big picture of a company: the product, the mission, how it can improve, and how you’ll contribute. A huge factor in my satisfaction is knowing that, at the end of the day, I did something meaningful and accomplished something that is part of that bigger picture.

We are at the start of a bio-revolution. Life science is transforming every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to the medicines we take. Come help us push forward cutting-edge science with cutting-edge software.

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