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. 
>
>Thanks
>
>Gloria


Hi,

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!

Patti




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