Confusion whether to accept another postdoc position (3rd one!)

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Confusion whether to accept another postdoc position (3rd one!)

Postby O.N. » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:08 pm

Hi All,

I am approaching the end of my 2nd postdoc in a big pharma. So far my career history:

5 years postdoc research institution.
2 years postdoc industrial (big pharma).

I am always interested in industrial research positions. I have been checking for permanent research positions in industry (big pharma) but no success so far. Unfortunately, My research has limited application in pharma.

Both my postdocs in academia and industry (7 years) are scientifically related. I found another postdoc in the same field of research in the same company where I currently work. The research is exciting and very relevant to my skills. But this will be my 3rd postdoc if I go for it?

Meanwhile, I had a chat with the manager of small biotech about possibility of joining his company. There is a great potential that he will offer me a research position (permanent). However, it is a service biotech with a research that is completely different from my previous 7 years of postdoc experience.

In brief, I like the science in the postdoc and the feeling that I will stay close to big pharma but this will be my 3rd postdoc. I could choose this option and keep trying to get a permanent position in the company.

I like the permanent position in the small biotech but feel that the research area is not relevant and that my previous experience will be wasted.

Could you please help to choose the best option?
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Re: Confusion whether to accept another postdoc position (3rd one!)

Postby RSD » Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:42 pm

It is a question only you can answer, but with the caveat that I don't know your specific situation or big-picture career goals, I would say that permanent industry job beats postdoc every time. Thinking one career move ahead, does the permanent position a the biotech get you closer to your goal? While the biotech job might not be in the exact area of research that you prefer, you will almost certainly have a larger set of responsibilities and duties that you would not get as a postdoc, giving you that "real job" experience that can be lacking in postdoc/trainee life.

Postdoc positions are supposed to be transitional, training periods. You've honed your scientific skills enough; its time to apply them.
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Re: Confusion whether to accept another postdoc position (3rd one!)

Postby WG » Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:03 pm

I think it's tempting to always go for positions that match the experience you have had before. But in this case I tend to agree with RSD, to me a permanent position is better than a postdoc. I think you have to try and learn how to deconstruct your experiences in order to be able to see what kind of skillset you have. E.g. don't just think I do research on protein X so I can only work in places that do the same thing. Think of it as when doing this research I developed the following skills. Then find places where those skills are in demand or can be useful. You may still get additional skills or experience from this biotech position that will help you get to the your ideal position.
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Re: Confusion whether to accept another postdoc position (3rd one!)

Postby Rich Lemert » Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:24 pm

Something isn't adding up for me. You claim to be interested in a career in "big pharma", but admit that the postdocs you've completed and the one you're considering are "limited application in pharma." My question would be - why haven't you been finding positions that help you reach your goal?

That aside, when do you think you might feel like you've finally "been trained?" Most of your training occurred during your graduate studies. After an additional seven years, I think it's about time you started using some of that so-called training in a real job. You're slightly ahead of many - at least one of your postdocs is in industry. Still, another postdoc is going to have hiring managers down the road wondering why you seem to be shying away from accepting responsibility.

I'm also concerned by your statement that you've "been checking for permanent research positions in industry." This suggests you've been using a passive approach and going through the on-line application black-hole of HR. That sometimes finds people a job - but this is more likely to happen as the BS/MS level. It's not very effective.

I'd also drop the idea that if you change topics your experience will be 'wasted'. If you do change, you're going to be coming into the field with a fresh outlook. It's possible that you won't have the blinders on that people in that field have developed over the years - just as you have blinders on in the field you're currently working in.

My suggestion is to figure out what you want to do, figure out how to get there, and decide which of these options is least disruptive to that goal.
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Re: Confusion whether to accept another postdoc position (3rd one!)

Postby A. M. Faust » Fri Apr 03, 2015 3:15 pm

That first job outside of academia can be *very* hard to come by, so if someone is offering you one, I'd take it over another postdoc. I've met a number of postdocs who are desperate to get such an opportunity, so just think carefully about whether another such opportunity will come along soon. Also, from my perspective (PhD research scientist in pharma, and I've seen a lot of job candidates' applications), seeing three postdocs on someone's resume is a troubling sign that they may have had difficulties in one or more postdocs or that they are afraid to move on from the comfortable (in some ways!) environment of academia.
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Re: Confusion whether to accept another postdoc position (3rd one!)

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun Apr 05, 2015 8:47 am

I completely agree with others that you do NOT want to have a third postdoc on your CV. Job hunting is hard enough without self-inflicted "CV issues" like this one . . . Just stick with the focus on using your industry postdoc skills and experience to help sell you into a real job in a company.

"Failure is a bruise -- not a tattoo." -- Jon Sinclair
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another post-doc to nowhere?

Postby P.C. » Sun Apr 05, 2015 11:44 pm

Why in the world would you do another post-doc? Because it is easier than getting a regular position at this stage? You have already done about 3 years too much post doc "training". More of that and you will negatively impact your employability even more. Fixate on only taking a regular position not any more so-called training.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
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