Transitioning from Petroleum to Biotech: A Tale of Change

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This time last year, I was working for a major petroleum company in Ohio. It was a good job, but also difficult. On top of the petroleum market being generally stressful, I didn’t have any passion for the product. Learning how to handle the work felt just like that — work. I thought that my lack of interest in the job was due to being new and not yet having the skills to handle my workload, so I kept at it. Time went on, and things didn’t get any better. I started to come around to the idea of looking for a new job, but I wasn’t ready to quit until I knew I could be successful at this one first. 

I felt successful at the end of the year when I met my portion of the team's yearly goal despite a big upset right before the deadline. For the first time in my career, I walked into my weekly meeting with my manager feeling confident. The next week was my annual review, during which they promptly informed me that I was being terminated. Due to heavy losses for the oil industry during the pandemic, the company was faced with making a round of layoffs. Because I started earlier than the others in my group, I was the only one who would have an official review and was, therefore, the easiest one to lay off. The company was generous in their severance package and professional in our conversations, but my pride was bruised nonetheless. After the shock had worn off, however, I was surprised to find that I felt relief more than any other emotion. From the moment I left the office, I knew there was a company out there that I would be proud to work for. 

My husband and I wanted to move back to Utah to be closer to family. When I began my Utah job search, I came across Recursion and was immediately drawn to the mission to decode biology by applying machine learning to the drug discovery process. I instantly knew I wanted to work there. As I read more about the benefits Recursion offered I thought to myself, “there’s no way they actually provide lunch every day for their employees.” (Spoiler, it’s true and it’s amazing). I tried not to get my hopes up for an interview because I didn’t know anyone in the company and my background wasn’t related to biotech. I was genuinely shocked (but very happy, of course) when I received an email asking to schedule an interview. 

Within the first few minutes of the interview, I could tell that things were different here. The process was long, but purposefully so. I ended up not meeting the requirements for that job, but Recursion asked me to continue applying for positions at the company. That was an approach that really impacted me. When another job piqued my interest, I applied. To my astonishment, I was offered a role as an Associate Data Steward — and I happily accepted. To this day, I still get excited about going into the office on Mondays.

 I was nervous about how I might be perceived when I started (coming from the petroleum industry), but I’ve only felt acceptance and support since day one. I love my job and deeply appreciate the passion and dedication that my co-workers bring to their work each day. Biologists, chemists, engineers, and more work together on cross-functional teams to address problems and find solutions from multiple angles. 

Recursion trusts its employees to find a work-life balance that fits their needs and still allows them to meet company deadlines. People and patients are counting on us to “decode biology and radically improve lives,” and it motivates me to be better every day. At Recursion, I get to be the person my childhood self always wanted to be, and more. I enjoy the freedom to dress the way I want to while working in a professional environment. I even checked something off my bucket list that I’ve wanted to do for years: dye my hair pink (Barbie would be so proud). 

I recently had my 90-day review with Recursion. From my previous experience with these meetings, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that I was nervous. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this meeting was just as much about my evaluation of the company as it was feedback for me!

So what did I learn from joining Recursion? Working for a company is a relationship just like any other. If things aren’t as good as you know they could be, you have every right to change your situation. When you find a good one, hold on to it! 

Learn more about working at Recursion at — we’d love to have you apply to join our team.

Giovanna Ruai is an Associate Data Steward at Recursion.