More on job surveys

SLF notmyaddress at
Fri May 11 12:34:47 EST 2001

Another reader asked me to post her comments (by the way I am NOT a
moderator or anonymous posting service, just doing this as a favor to a
couple of long time readers!  Those who want anonymous posting should
try deja-news).   This comes from someone who moved from academe to
industry and is now moving bacik.  I have some comments interspersed.

S writes:
> I wanted to say that I was amazed at how well the comments of the
> survey reflected _all_ aspects of academe vs. industry. If some seem
> contradictory, this is indeed because (even in the same company) the
> environment may differ radically, depending on colleagues, superiors,
> the specific task at hand etc. Besides, each individual perceives the
> same environment differently at different times. E.g. in the
> beginning, I found it very relaxing that I did not have to invest as
> much "emotion" into my research projects as in university, since
> funding could have been stopped any time.

yes, generallly in academe one sees the trainwreck of funding loss
coming for a long time before it hits.

> I found the separation of
> my private interests and work very relaxing. By now, I have found out
> that on the other hand, this lack of dedication leads to a lack of
> quality in my research - I don't _care_ enough.

Whereas academics may care too much!  Ultimately, we sweat blood to
publish papers that maybe 100 people will read, and promptly forget.

> The main reasons I
> have for going back to university are the fact that I find far more
> satisfaction in teaching than in making a product, and that I want to
> have more freedom regarding the direction of my research.

Hands down the thing I like absolutely best about my job in academe is
my grad students and postdocs, and developing them into independent
scientists.  Graduating my PhD students has been an unexpectedly intense
delight to me.   It really is like that inspiring moment when you rescue
a bird, pick it up, and then release it to flight.

Of course, I've had to euthanize an  injured bird.  Hopefully I will
avoid that with  my students.  ;-)

The politics, petty mindedness, clueless reviewers, and backstabbing
careerists that make up the bulk of my day, I could do without.

> I also
> realized that I don't care much whether a superior tells me my work
> is good or bad (except to the extent it affects my job, but not
> personally) - people who care about this thrive in industry, and
> always complain about the lack of feedback in university.

yes, but sometimes it would be nice to be noticed in academe....

> I think I
> agree most with one person on this survey that the best thing is to
> try out both (if possible) to find out which suits you most. And I do
> not regret at all that I had this chance. I also learned many things
> in industry I would never have learned in university, and I hope I
> can bring some of these back with me.

Good luck!

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S L Forsburg, PhD  Associate Professor
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA

Women in Biology Internet Launch Page
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