Discussions on career high points (and low points), problems, and helpful advice.

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Postby researchwoman » Aug 13 2011 9:50 am

Well, it has been about 6 months into my present position in my new lab (a startup) in USA and I am already laid off due to funding difficulties. Did not have that experience before and so it is interesting! With a review published from the new lab and leads in a couple of changing projects, it is not easy to show one's prowess in the short frame of time.
And then some of us wonder-and-ponder too much and go deeper...going down the hole like Alice in Wonderland.
It turns out that one could get fired without a 30 day notice as a researcher in academia, paid from grants. And if one lives in a new country on a Work VISA, an H1, one becomes illegal technically the very next day and may be given about 10 days to leave the country on humanitarian basis.
Well, fortunately that is not my situation. I have until December to find my way. But it is good to know the rules.
Turns out the industrial market is not that easy to get into, although I have learned so much in improving my resume and appealing to the 'real world'.

It has still been a wonderful adventure, but this is pretty much the main rewards. I value this path for the fun and growth and would probably get into it exactly the same way I did if I had a chance ( with a few wiser choices here and there!;0)
but well, there are challenges like this.
I use this forum to share a lot, from technical troubleshooting to perspectives (part of the 'wonder-and-ponder'). It is only my perspective to add to all the other.
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Re: postdoc

Postby relaxin » Aug 13 2011 2:42 pm

Your mentor should be honest with you about his/her funding situation. I did hear one prof got a postdoc to start working and then found out his grant was not funded. He just gave the poor guy a desk to look for another postdoc position. He had to eat and needed a place to stay!

Anyway, postdoc position in a big university should not be a problem. Hope you can find another one soon.
Retired academic researcher. Mention of a specific product does not imply my endorsement of the product. No conflict of interest or guarantee to work on the advice given. Do as I say, not as I do. Not liable to the loss of your valuable samples.
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some musings

Postby researchwoman » Sep 10 2011 8:33 pm

Things are improving once I revamped my resume. I find that it seems to make quite a difference in getting calls for interviews.
Either way, I find it refreshing to learn about the real world' soft skills.
Interestingly not only are the basic salaries much better outside academia, there seem to be more opportunities for flexibility and growth. Anyways, I have learned to not work for free or go to the lab on weekends/ stay long hours on weekdays and manage to maintain my cell-cultures with good planning. It is strange for me how smart, dedicated people like researchers would so willingly agree to work for free , overwork and allow themselves to be pressured against expectations of 'results'.
I have been a 'true scientist', one that goes down the rabbit hole. I was never meant to 'give' results, especially any positive data. I believe that science was for 'truth-seekers'. However, the pressures of grants etc, has shifted the focus to 'publish-perish', killing in my opinion the very pursuit and reverence of the world beyond, unknown and unseen that brings many of us into this profession. I have learned to be fair to myself and not judge myself over impossible standards, of ego expectations or wanting/having to prove myself, my lab or my PI to anybody. If people were less afraid of being 'losers' or bad scientists, I don't think most would work without a decent work-play balance like I see usually.
It irks some of my colleagues and people in the higher management in my building to see me leave without guilt at the end of the day, while my colleagues slog on until night . I also break many 'rules of science' by being more intuitive and less constrained by logic. It does amaze me that science has become one more religious order with strict 'moral codes'-overwork ethics, love science over everything else (translating to a desperate quest for papers). This I have found independent of the country/culture.
It will be interesting what I find when I (Finally) make my way into the non-academic world.
For now, I have been blessed through the academic quest, with skepticism, confidence and immunity to associating my selfworth with 'results'. For anyone that wants to humble down, science is the way to go! Nothing better than erratic 'successes' and 'failures' in experiments to get one's ego to shake up! It is so much fun for me that I can work without attachment to outcomes and see the baffles expressions of colleagues who want to be 'driven'. I am happy whether something works or not. There is always something to learn, thats for me the whole point anyways.
Well of course, I am not responsible for running a lab yet! It is nice being a postdoc, for as long as it does last!
Some philosophical musings over a weekend...
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