Caught between a rock and an academic place
Submitted by Jason Tilan on Mon, 2010-09-27 18:30
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In order to gauge whether or not my job search experience may be relevant to that of yours, I think it would be pertinent to characterize my basal parameters at the time of post.  I graduated in December of 2009 with a (doctoral) degree in Physiology & Biophysics. 

I then started a 1 year post-doc within the same department.  I have yet to publish my thesis work.  Presently, I am doing a terrible job of balancing the completion of a few “final experiments” and writing a manuscript related to my dissertation with my responsibilities of the new short-term gig.  The scale is heavily tipped in favor of my post-doc duties.  External thought-point to consider:  regardless of whether or not you remain in academia, publish your work, and, unlike me, do so before starting a new job.  As many career workshops have relayed to me, a job search can be a full-time job in it of itself.  Thus, the hunt for the next gig has taken a back seat to “the lab,” but definitely still comes before “having a life.” 

When I do make time for this hunt, I find myself mentally paused, in mid-step forward at a career fork-in-the-road of academia and “other.”  On some days, my step is about to land on the path toward academia and on others, onto the road of, what seems at times, infinite possibility.  This stall is inevitably followed by an assessment of my qualifications and skills as they relate to both paths. Internal thought-point to consider: proper experimental design, data interpretation, and the overall communication related to these skills are relevant to just about every career. 

With the hopes that I have established a baseline, perhaps I can provide at least one tangible piece of information to come away with.  To aid in my navigation through this career path metaphor, I have regularly used Science Careers by AAAS, which I have found informative and applicable to careers in and out of academia.  Oh, and on a somewhat related, but not really, note, I am LinkedIn...

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