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Is Academia a better option than Industry if I enjoy labwork more ?

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Is Academia a better option than Industry if I enjoy labwork more ?

Postby DJS » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:33 am

I've always enjoyed working in the lab and actually prefer it to being a manager because I don't like all of the responsibilities that comes with it. I'm just curious if working in industry always leads to becoming a manager in the end? Is making a career out of doing labwork not an option in industry? And if I want to just do labwork, am I better off going to academia?

I am currently working in industry and would like to pursue other positions. However, the question that comes up a lot in my interviews is whether I prefer to stay in the lab or become a manager. I've been honest and say that I'd like to stay in the lab, however I always get the feeling that that was a bad answer. Do I need to rethink my career goals, or reconsider my interest in staying in industry?
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Re: Is Academia a better option than Industry if I enjoy labwork more ?

Postby PG » Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:57 pm

Does everyone that decides to work in academia become a professor?

No you dont need to become a manager to work in industry. I have a person in my team that is retiring in a few months and she has been working in various laboratory postiions for many years. She is a valuble asset for our Group and we are looking into ways of keeping her around longer. As for the interview situation I would say that a statement that you do want to stay in the lab is something that usually would be seen as a positive by most managers that recruit for laboratory positions.

Sure I need some people that I hire to move into different types of management positions but I need to have a lot more laboratory staff then I need managers. Having experienced laboratory staff that can help teach new staff potentially take responsibility for certain methods or procedures is very valuble.

On the other hand if I want to hire someone to work in the lab and that person in the interview mentions that he/dshe wants to move into a management position that is usually consiered a red flag. When I hire for any position I usually want to the person to work in that position for at least a cople of years before moving on to something else and normally it is the performance during these couple of years coupled with what the person wants that decides the route they will follow during their career development.
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Re: Is Academia a better option than Industry if I enjoy labwork more ?

Postby Ana » Sat Feb 04, 2017 5:20 pm

Companies have many research positions that don't require line management responsibilities.

That said, if you are applying to roles that require line management responsibilities it will be a bad answer to say that you don't want them. Are you interviewing for positions that are "individual contributors" or "manager" roles?
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Re: Is Academia a better option than Industry if I enjoy labwork more ?

Postby Abby » Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:29 pm

I'm not sure where you are at with your education, but generally PhD holders are expected to become managers. They get trained to do lab work and then don't do it anymore (eventually). So, if you want to stay at the bench, stopping with a B.S. or M.S. might be the way to stay there.
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Re: Is Academia a better option than Industry if I enjoy labwork more ?

Postby RSD » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:20 pm

For BS/MS holders in biotech it is very easy to stay at the bench if desired. There are opportunities to move into other areas, but good, experienced hands at the bench are like gold. At the PhD level some roles are certainly expected to develop into management positions over time, but there are some projects and positions that absolutely require the laboratory skill and expertise that a PhD brings.

In general, if you prefer to stay in the lab I think you can find opportunities in industry to do that.
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