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Escape from the ivory tower?

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Escape from the ivory tower?

Postby J. Zhou » Thu May 28, 2015 5:14 pm

Hi everyone,

I am a PhD student in computational chemistry. I am going to start my 5th year soon. I probably would graduate next year sometime. But I don't know what's next after the Ph.D.?

I've seen many talented and hard-working postdocs get stuck in post-doc positions. They shift from one postdoc to another. They move from one state to another. They publish good papers, but they can't land on an idea position (i.e. tenure track profess).I can't help wondering I am not as smart as they are, can I find a position a few years later? What if I can not find a academic job after 10 years.

Second, I feel like this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I work on projects, I publish papers, I do what a phd should do, but I have this feeling that this is NOT what I want to do for the rest of my life. I feel like I don't have strong motivation inside. I saw my advisors working extremely hard to write proposals to get fundings. They don't even have time to do the real research, which they are really interested in. This is not the life I want.

So, I start thinking finding a job outside of academia. But I don't know what I can do. I've spent 7 years in graduate school (3 years M.S + 4 years Ph.D.) and I have none experience working for a company.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on it. You can comment on this thread.

Thanks
JZ
J. Zhou
 
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Re: Escape from the ivory tower?

Postby Rich Lemert » Thu May 28, 2015 9:08 pm

What can you do outside of academia with your background?

Well, for starters, you can do a lot of the same things that you can do inside of academia. There are many opportunities to do advanced research in industry, for example - and you don't have to go chasing after the ever more elusive grant to do it. You'll have to adjust to a different mindset: your research will have to be in areas of interest to your employer, and you'll need to accept the fact that the project you're working on can be dropped at a moment's notice as the company's interests and priorities change.

If you're interested in leaving research altogether, consider taking advantage of your programming skills. There are a lot of hi-tech software companies out there that need someone with strong programming skills that has a technical background - and that background doesn't always have to be in the field that their software is targeted for.

One thing you can do to find out more about industrial opportunities is to contact the authors of recent papers who have an industrial affiliation. Give them a call and ask them how they got where they are - and what suggestions they might have for someone in your position.
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Re: Escape from the ivory tower?

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu May 28, 2015 10:23 pm

J. Zhou wrote:Hi everyone,

I am a PhD student in computational chemistry. I am going to start my 5th year soon. I probably would graduate next year sometime. But I don't know what's next after the Ph.D.?

I've seen many talented and hard-working postdocs get stuck in post-doc positions. They shift from one postdoc to another. They move from one state to another. They publish good papers, but they can't land on an idea position (i.e. tenure track profess).I can't help wondering I am not as smart as they are, can I find a position a few years later? What if I can not find a academic job after 10 years.

Second, I feel like this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I work on projects, I publish papers, I do what a phd should do, but I have this feeling that this is NOT what I want to do for the rest of my life. I feel like I don't have strong motivation inside. I saw my advisors working extremely hard to write proposals to get fundings. They don't even have time to do the real research, which they are really interested in. This is not the life I want.

So, I start thinking finding a job outside of academia. But I don't know what I can do. I've spent 7 years in graduate school (3 years M.S + 4 years Ph.D.) and I have none experience working for a company.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on it. You can comment on this thread.

Thanks
JZ


Hi J,

You had initially a Survey Monkey, which I removed as it seemed rude to the host (AAAS) to take people off our site, after they spent a lot of money to get a website going for our discussion that has a survey element. I believe that anyone can take a standard post and make it into a Poll (a survey). If you don't see this functionality built in here, than please go ahead and repost the Monkey address and I'll allow it,

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Re: Escape from the ivory tower?

Postby J. Zhou » Fri May 29, 2015 11:52 am

Thanks for your clarification Dave.

I didn't know there was a poll function in this forum. If I knew, I would use it! I agree with you it's not polite to take people away from the site, if a similar function has already built in.

I had the concern that posing a link may violate the forum rules. So I read the forum rules before I posted it, but I didn't find anything related to a survey. So, I assumed it was Okay.

I have some suggestion about modifying post, if it is possible. I am okay with moderators to modify my post, if they find something inappropriate. But I hope I can get a notification, something like "your post has been modified, due to the reason...". When I found my post was modified, I felt like I was not respected in someway.

The only reason I am writing this is to make this forum better, more warm, more friendly and more humanized.

J
J. Zhou
 
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Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 4:45 pm


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