alternative careers for PhDs
JFRUGOLI at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Tue Aug 26 10:55:58 EST 1997
This thread certainly came at a good time. As I set up a postdoc, I've
been plagued with doubts. On the one extreme, there are those who say
that the truely wise will get out of science before they put too much
into it, and on the other, there are those who say "there will always be
good jobs for good people, just stay at your bench". The truth is out
there, but I don't think it's in either of these extremes.
In any case, after reading all these posts, and in some cases responding
too hastily to those that hit "hot" buttons, I think I can define my
thinking about this a little better now.
1) I always thought, like some child of the '60's, that the science
world would be different when my generation got to be in power. But
hearing people, on this newsgroup and in coffee conversations, tell me
that it was just as bad back in the '70's and look, they survived
because they ignored it all and just did good science which in the end
is rewarded (I never hear the people who drop out say "well, I did bad
science" :)), makes me wonder if any of us will remember how difficult
some stages of the academic track are when we've "arrived", or if we'll
just repeat the same things.
2) Even if there was no future at all, I'd still finish this PhD (after
all, its only a few months away!) It long ago became a personal
challenge, and something I'll be proud of even as I say "Do you want
fries with that?" :)
3) I won't stop trying for an academic position until a door shuts in my
face and there's no way around it. That doesn't mean I won't be wary of
slamming doors, just that I won't close the door myself! And if I get
to that point and the door is shut, I'll know that there are other
things I can do besides academia, and it doesn't necessarily mean I'm
not good if I can't get a decent academic job, only that there are a lot
of good people out there.
4) Part of the reason for 2 and 3 has to do with how I'd feel if I
didn't try. I know I personally couldn't live with the
might-have-beens, and that's a big factor in my life choices. So while
I may join the "post-doc has become a rotten position" chorus, I'm
writing the grant and doing the experiments like everyone else. In this
lab we have a running joke about the masochistic personality traits that
make one pursue the PhD and beyond, but as long as we can laugh about
it, we're all right.
Bottom line: Blowing off steam in this newsgroup is good if it gets you
to clarify why you do what you do and where you're going next, and I've
always felt that this newsgroup is a great place to think through issues
others would rather not touch, but that affect scientists in general and
women in particular. So thanks to everybody!
Feeling much better now that the manuscript is going out the door,
visiting grad student at
Texas A&M University
Department of Biological Sciences
College Station, TX 77843
"Evil is best defined as militant ignorance."
Dr. M. Scott Peck
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