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Change from academia "plan"

PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2004 10:29 am
by Helen
I have a PhD in molecular biology and recieved my degree from a university in United States. I am early in my post-doc years and currently working in metabolic pathway in yeast. For so long, my plan has been to pursue a research in acadamic university. But recently, I am becoming more flexible in what I want to do with my degree and experience and I am definetly trying to stay away from academia (just due to lack of interest in the system). Since I was focused only in one path, I just started to explore other career alternatives but I am worried about some stuffs and I would like to ask the forum readers their opinion about it. Here are the options I was thinking about.

1) Trying to get a job in biotech companies in a scientist position. My question is since I am studing metabolic pathway in yeast, I am not sure, how much of this is an interest to biotech companies. If this is an interest, what kind companies would be interested in this? I can extend my project and I can get some experience working in human cells, would this help?

2) The second alternative I was thinking about is regulatory affairs, editing and may be sales or marketing. The biggest problem I can think of is eventhough I am a naturalized US citizen and got my degree from US, I am not VERY fluent in English language. Though I can communicate and write English much better than many international students and post-docs, I have not yet reached to the level where an average person born in US could communicate. I know that the acadamic world is very forgiving and tolerant to people from non english speaking countries. How about the business world? I would like to hear if there are any forum readers/moderators who know people with similar background like mine and do one of these jobs like the ones I mentoned above. Please comment freely without being politically correct, I just want an honest opinion.

3)The third alternative I was thinking about is I have taken several courses in computer science when I was a graduate student and I have developed an interest in software engineering and I can get a BS degree in software engineering within the next two years. How can I integrate this degree with my PhD in biology? would I marketable?

Change from academia "plan"

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 11:43 am
by Dave Jensen
Hello Helen,

I am sure that your English difficulties are more in writing, than in speaking. Is that correct? While your post has some errors in it, and it is obvious you aren't a native English-speaker, it is perfectly understandable. I would just make certain that on important job-search documents, you have a friend read them over first before they go out. Your ideal job would be one where a major part of your work isn't writing . . . Yes, in industry, they are quite a bit less forgiving of grammar problems.

1) Yeast question . . . My suggestion is not to go back and delve into other topics like human cells if you are truly interested in industry. Get out and find a job. Don't go back for any additional degrees, changes in the academic program, etc. Just go find a job and let your career develop from there. With regards to yeast experience, there are plenty of companies that can utilize your knowledge of metabolic pathways in Yeast. I think of firms like Genencor, or others in the business of industrial enzymes, and that is only one tip of the field. Many others, even though they don't work with the same system, will recognize that what you have learned could help them.

2) I would think that Regulatory Affairs would be a major challenge due to the emphasis on writing. You be the judge. If you have a passion for this, than I am sure you could pull it off, but it wouldn't be playing to your strengths. With regards to sales and marketing, why not? If you have the people skills, this is an area that would hold promise without requiring you to further work on your writing skills. AS LONG AS YOU CAN COMMUNICATE IN PERSON WELL.

3) I hate to say this, because bioinformatics is an important part of our life sciences future, but there are so many people who have already done these dual degrees, you should think twice before entering the field. Once again, my advice is to go to work and develop your career from there, without any more education and degrees.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
CareerTrax Inc.

Change from academia

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 9:33 pm
by Val

More often than not, PhD graduates fall into the category "overeducated and underskilled" when they go to outer world to look for a job. The universities increasingly became the money-making machine; PhD advisors want the student to work using just one technique, so that they publish papers quicker. I remember I was saying to my PhD advisor that I wanted to learn some other techniques which might be of value to potential employers, and he dismissed me with the notion not to spend time for what's not relevant.

Thusly the fresh PhD graduate has to re-invent himself when applying for jobs, quickly get the skills of interest to the employer, and start at a lowest level (if lucky to get a job). I think, Dave, you put it very well: "...go to work and develop your career from there, without any more education and degrees".

(who got a PhD in fundamental physics and could not find employment, and who later submitted himself to employers as a developer of scientific instrumentation and got some experience in it working at lowest rungs; now 6 years has passed, and the industrial employers now consider his resume as impressive).

Change from academia

PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 11:45 am
by Helen
Thanks for the advice. I will start preparing my CV and start applying for jobs where writing is not a major part of the job. I will also ask my English speaker friends to review the application. Just a follow-up question, other than research, are there any other jobs in companies where a major part of your work isn't writing. If so what are they?

Change from academia

PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:11 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Helen,

There are certainly others, but of course every company job has some reliance on company memos, reports, etc. A job in quality control may not have extensive writing, and neither would a job as an Applications Scientist for a supplier firm. In that case, you'd be working with other scientists, helping them do their work using the company's reagents or instruments, etc. Another position inside a company without a huge deal of writing involvement is in manufacturing operations. The one you mentioned earlier, however, although closely related, is a heavily documentation oriented post (R/A).