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Another brief thank you, from postdoc turned core facility manager

PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:38 pm
by R.X.H.
I've wandered back onto this forum occasionally to post, and thought I might just throw in another thank you alongside another recent post, as someone who has benefitted from the advice given here by the wonderful people volunteering on this forum.

I was a postdoc without much internal direction as to where I wanted to go scientifically, struggling with next steps, when I was hired to work as a research associate on an industry partnered project. I performed well in accomplishing the goals of the project, which involved heavy use of a core facility, and when a position opened up as manager of a portion of the facility, I had the necessary background to fit the position and was offered the job. I'm in a much better place now, as I get to participate in research by helping others with experiments and analysis / interpretation, and get to have some feel for control over my own destiny by charging user fees that cover some of the costs of running the facility (and covering a portion of my salary), and have recently been helping to grow the reach of the facility by performing contract research for external clients, providing a welcome source of income free from the constraints of academic budgets.

I still occasionally suffer some regrets about missed opportunities in the past, but I have tried to maintain a positive attitude and focus on those things I can change, going forward. I like the somewhat hybrid business development role I've landed in, and, when not overwhelmed by urgent requests, find some time to learn new things, either about accounting or budgeting, or about the science behind whatever projects I am assisting on. I don't know if I have any advice for other people trying to figure out their next steps for "alternative careers in science" other than figure out what aspects of the science work you have done in the past that you enjoy, and look for positions that maybe have elements of that, while offering potential opportunities for growth. I knew for some time that I functioned well, and liked working in, a team environment, helping to accomplish things together rather than solitary work, and the manager position fit that description well, providing sufficient novelty in terms of new projects to work on and people to interact with, as well as room to grow by developing (some rudimentary, still-in-development) time- and project-management skills.

In any case, I'm thankful again for posters here who have helped me (and many others) in our science career journeys. The future may seem bleak and ominous to those with academia blinders on, who have been trained to think that there are only a few true paths to success (tenure track or industry scientist). But if you control what you can control - your work ethic, your networking and CV building skills (and volunteer activities), and your self-assessment of your goals, and keep a positive attitude (even if you're totally faking it), these things can make a difference, and at least 50% of the time the universe will conspire in your favor - keep an eye out and grab those opportunities when they do present themselves.

Re: Another brief thank you, from postdoc turned core facility manager

PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2016 3:16 am
by Ana
I’m happy to hear that RXH! congratulations for having found a position that makes you happier.

In my experience many jobs are filled like that, by being in the right place at the right time. What is important is to be able to appreciate that it is a real opportunity and take it. And to appreciate if it is a good opportunity you need to do the background work that you describe of understanding what works and doesn’t work for you.

I love your last paragraph.