recommendation letters/alternate careers

Noel Fong ez005881 at
Mon Nov 25 04:47:32 EST 1996

First of all, a round of applause for Sarah for all her insightful and
helfpul posts!  Keep them coming!

To address some of points in these posts,

	I agree that few PIs are capable of advising people on careers outside
of academia. That is in part due to who they are - "stars" in high school,
undergrad, straight through grad school, and post-doc.  Most of them have
not held non-academic positions of any sort.  This shows in many of their
personalities.  I used to work as a technician in a Biotech company before
coming to grad school.  As a group, I found people who have BS/MS degrees,
"regular" jobs, and a balanced life (more time for family, hobbies) more
aware of how to manuever in the larger world.  Furthermore, the working
folks were more emotionally intelligent than some of the driven, focused 
people that I see amoung PIs. Real-world experience can help one put
papers, grants, and petty "sandbox" fights in perspective.   

	Although usually well-meaning, many PIs infantalize their
students, thinking that they have no useful skills to offer 
the workplace without a post-doc and more publications. They try to push 
students into more of those positions so that they will eventually
reflect well on the PI.  Oh, please!... In actuality, we are quite highly
skilled, and capable of learning quickly to approach any project big or
small (ironically, this is due to our training!).  We need to acknowledge
this, and to PACKAGE it in a form useful for, and recognizable by the
outside workplace.  This is where venturing into the outside world comes
in. I see too many fellow students just hang around other students. As a
grad student, I became active in local sections of professional societies
in the areas that I eventually plan to work in.  They are very receptive
to students!  I found the experience very useful for making contacts,being 
exposed to real work areas which I would have never heard of in grad
school, and developing the poise/mannerisms it takes to maneuver amoung

	It is unfortunate that many 

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