13th DISC Winner Marcos Taracena


When I became a second-year master’s student, I was thinking of going on to a doctoral course, so I did not do regular job hunting in Japan. I applied for the Research Fellowship for Young Scientists (DC1). However, I didn’t pass the first selection stage, and I experienced being evaluated only by a document screening without receiving any substantial feedback about the result. I considered many other options for my future, and I heard about DISC from a senior in my lab. I thought that a selection process that allows both the applicants and the recruiters to take time to know about each other was really appealing. I had never written an application for employment before, but I challenged myself and I was able to participate in DISC.


It was the first time I had to work intensively on a given task for several days. DISC was challenging because you are required to make a final presentation about the task, and because you are being evaluated in many ways. On the other hand, I felt that it was really easy to have open discussions with Astellas employees about the task, and that I had enough time to learn many things about Astellas, such as the working environment and relations between employees. Furthermore, I was able to interact with participants with various backgrounds (masters’s course, doctoral course, people already working, studying abroad, etc.), and I had the opportunity to think about my attitude toward research, my view of life and work, and about my future. Above all, I was able to have a good time and to fully transmit the things that I can contribute to the company.


After joining Astellas, there are multiple trainings and e-learning programs, and there are many applications that must be made before conducting experiments, so there is a period of time when actual job cannot be done. Compared with my time at University when I could do desk work and conduct experiments every day, I felt constrained from time to time. However, the knowledge from these trainings is necessary in order to deliver value to patients. As for the fun part, after joining the company I gradually understood drug discovery research and become aware of the process of drug development. By doing this, I think it is easy to grasp the image of how the research I am doing today will be useful in the future and what kind of “value” it will provide to society. In addition, I feel that Astellas has a good environment for communicating with people with various specialties.


Dear overseas applicants. As you may be aware, Japan’s job hunting/recruiting system is quite different from other countries. In Japan it is common for students to apply to multiple jobs in a short, specified period of time. Different systems have merits and demerits, but in the case of Japan, job hunting and recruiting can become a unilateral process because of the limited time available for both sides. On the other hand, DISC is a selection process where you can get to know each other and find someone you want to work with. Of course, it is really important to perform the tasks given during DISC, but I strongly recommended that you also actively communicate with senior employees and other participants during the program. Be aware that the person you are talking to may become your colleague in the future, and please do not forget to have a fun time!