Avoiding the Burnout Bug

Biotech Nexus panelists talk about the importance of outside interests to keep their passion for science alive. 

Each year, the American Psychological Association (APA) releases results of its Work and Well-being survey of US adult workers. The most recent findings made one thing abundantly clear: workers are stressed.  

The APA found that 79 percent of employees experienced work-related stress in the month preceding the survey, and nearly three in every five employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress. Both statistics were higher than the previous year, which coincided with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Biotech Nexus PanelistsAs more workers are stressed, burnout is becoming an increasing concern.  

That is why panelists at the annual Biotech Nexus event emphasized the importance of finding activities outside of work to help reduce stress and reignite the passion and motivation for work. 

Biotech Nexus is hosted by Northwestern Engineering's Master of Biotechnology Program (MBP), and is designed to introduce students to the variety of opportunities available to someone with a background in biotech.  

“You’re all hyper-focused on getting your degrees because that’s the end, that's the finish line,” said Jamie Kasuboski, vice president of OMX Ventures. “But you have to realize, there’s no degree in a career. You need to figure out how to keep yourself engaged without burning out. “ 

Kasuboski loves his work with OMX Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in the life science sector, but he makes purposeful efforts to network through meaningful volunteer opportunities outside of the office. Through those ventures, Kasuboski has found like-minded individuals who share his passions, and that's created a mutually beneficial relationship. 

“You build up their energy, and they build you up,” he said. “You’re doing something more positive than just your career, and then you get fresh eyes and fresh legs to go back and keep doing what you’re doing without getting burned out.”  

Jessica Tam also discussed the importance of finding ways to re-energize yourself outside of work. For Tam, who focuses on new product development as a senior global project manager with Baxter International’s patient monitoring marketing team, that refresh comes through a work initiative at Baxter in the wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd.  

Tam leads a group of Baxter employees who partner with an organization of Black professional women that provide kidney education and awareness to the Black community. 

“The coolest thing is, none of the work we’re doing there is attributed to revenues or financials,” Tam said. “We’re investing millions of dollars into this initiative just because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s been really cool to be a part of that.”  

The majority of the panelists talked about outside pursuits that make society better as key to their efforts to recharge and refocus. Whether it's contributing to a community effort or simply playing a sport, the key is to find something that brings pleasure. If you're happy and having fun, those feelings will help re-energize you and make you a better worker — and perhaps a better person.  

Kasuboski cautioned students to find that outlet to recharge while they're still in school and have less stress on them — even if it doesn't feel like it.  

“Your life will get more complicated," he said. "Kids, families, and moves aren’t going to make it easier. Find other things that recharge your batteries. Take the time to recharge. Try to be productive at making society a better place. It’ll be more rewarding than watching Netflix or playing video games.”  

McCormick News Article