Looking for career-change support group

Patricia Rohwer-Nutter plrohwer at students.wisc.edu
Sat Jan 27 14:55:51 EST 1996

In article <4e8rsq$32l at oracle.damerica.net>, desidia at community.net says...
>Sorry that this is not the proper place to post this, but i am considering
>a career change, from the biological sciences to the computer sciences (I
>think...) I need to talk to people that have been through a similar
>experience, because i am having doubts, questions and worries.  If you
>know of any newsgroup or mailing list that deals with this issue, please
>let me know.  Any help will be appreciated. 


I'm in the same spot.  I've been doing research since 1986, entered grad 
school in 1993, and decided last year to quit with a master's.  I haven't  
decided exactly what to do next.  I left a very high powered, large lab with 
a well known advisor - I really liked the science, but I have chronic medical 
problems, a young child, and a husband who's also in science.  I needed a 
slower pace of work in order to regain my health.  I wanted more free time to 
spend with my family, pursue other interests, and I'd like to have another 
baby sometime soon.  I also don't want to be moving around the country from 
school to postdoc to job to next job for the next dozen years - given the 
current job crunch, I probably wouldn't be a top candidate anyway, even with 
a PhD.  

When I decided to leave, it felt like I had dropped off the face of the 
earth.  The people I worked with acted as if I had had a close relative die - 
they didn't seem to know what to say to me and seemed uncomfortable around 
me. (I was actually quite happy about my decision - it seemed like I had 
unlimited options to create a life that was more in tune with my personality 
and many interests).  Sometimes it felt like being an atheist at a church 
service.  I wondered if people thought I wasn't intelligent enough, or if I 
was unambitious, or what they thought.  And since I had moved to a new city 
to go to grad school, I really didn't know many people outside of work.  It 
was a much more traumatic change than I had expected.

I'm now working as a tech, splitting my time between two small labs.  The 
science is good, but its definitely not cutting-edge.  Sometimes I'm a little 
bored and miss the intellectual stimulation that came from being in the 
middle of a large group of people.  And the pay is dismal, less than I made 
as a tech before I started grad school (although it is more than my grad 
school stipend).  When I applied for jobs, I found I was viewed with some 
suspicion - I guess people thought I wouldn't be very enthusiastic since I 
didn't finish grad school with a doctorate (I also found out that PhD's were 
applying for most technician jobs that I applied for).  I still love biology, 
I just wanted room for other things in my life.

The good thing is, is that now I have plenty of free time to do the things 
that I want to do.  My health is much improved as well.  I'm planning on 
starting a small business of my own, part-time at first - I've decided that I 
don't want to have to work for anybody but myself.  I don't want to have to 
justify my decisions to anyone - if I need time to be with my family or if I 
fall ill again, it shouldn't mean the end of my usefulness.  I have no 
regrets, and am hopeful that I can craft a new career that will allow me the 
flexibility that I need.

Good luck in making your decision!


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