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Mid-Life Crisis

PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 1:22 pm
by Betty
How does one transition from academia to industry after taking a sabbatical for one year? My father was diagnosed with cancer so I wanted to be with him during this time. I felt it was a good time to leave my postdoc position because I had accomplished a lot during my first year, enough to get a first author publication. It has been a year now and I want to get back into science. I do not want to do another postdoc since this last postdoc was my 3rd in 5 years. I am older than my peers, having turned 42 last month. I have been in academic research 18 years (I was a research assistant 5 years before I went to graduate school) and still love working at the bench. My technical skills encompass cell, molecular and developmental biology. I prefer to stay in academia and apply for a faculty position but feel my age may play a factor. If not, then the biotech industry. My publication record is okay--I have four, one of which I am senior author. I know this is a lot to chew on. I appreciate your advice and the advice of others out there.

Mid-Life Crisis

PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 6:22 pm
by Val

> How does one transition from academia to
> industry after taking a sabbatical for one year?
> ... I am older than my peers, having turned 42
> last month. I have been in academic research 18 years...

If you are for 18 years in research and have done 3 postdocs in 5 years -- but have no idea how to get employed in industry -- then you are not sharp. And people who are not sharp -- alas ! -- do not succeed in science.


P.S. Try to get any science-related job in industry. If you are good, you will build up on that experience (get to know the industry, get the contacts, earn reputation etc).

Mid-Life Crisis

PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 6:33 pm
by Dave Jensen
I think the other reply to your message is a bit harsh, but forgive him because he is not writing in his native language. And, in a sense, he's got the right idea.

After 18 years in academic research, with the latest positions being postdoctoral, and then followed by a year off . . . this is a very difficult position to come from for a competitive job search. My advice isn't all that much different than Val's, because I think you've got to basically scramble to get any kind of job that is science-related and then work from there to build your career back up. You can do it! I know people who have come from several years off, made dramatic career shifts, and come back into well-paying and satisfying careers. But it is only after quite a few bumps in the job market.

As I recently advised another poster, get that great book "What Color is Your Parachute?" and start working on those exercises that may broaden your perspective of what would be your major strengths. You've got other life skills that aren't science related (good with people, persistent, open minded, etc). Find out how those may help you get back into an employed status, and then work from there on your career development.

Sorry I can't be more specific,

Dave Jensen, Moderator
CareerTrax Inc.

Mid-Life Crisis

PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 7:39 pm
by Betty
Thanks for the advice, Dave. You, too, Val. I asked my original question because I could empathize with John about having years of experience in academic research but had the additional problem of being out of science for one year. I have not begun job searches yet and am finding the forum helpful in that regard. I was naive to think that being out for one year wasn\\\'t going to be detrimental to my career. Obviously, it was, from what I understand. Again, thanks for the advice

Mid-Life Crisis

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 11:54 am
by John Fetzer
I think the year off is less important from an industrial-hiring standpoint than the on-going academia trend. Industrial hiring is task and results oriented. Long-term and less applied research, and experience in doing it, is not highly valued. Emphasize the tasks you've learned, the problems you have solved, and use your varied experiences to highlight your people skills - collaboration, teamwork, any project leadership, planning, meeting timely goals, putting together budgets, etc.

The hiring trend now among many companies is plug in. That means skills that fit the needed technical areas, with little time for training and no concerns for long-term career-length plans. Can you come into a job and start doing the work within days or weeks? Are you versatile enough to fill more than one slot? Will you fit in with the other people and not cause troubles?


Mid-Life Crisis

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 7:13 pm
by John_Mastro
I recognize "Val" from another forum. In my opinion his opinion is not harsh but realistic. I think that he provides the essential appraisal of the situation minus the sugar coating provided from some other posters. Life is harsh and unfair. Perhaps with a can-do attitude, hard work, persevance, and a large nest egg you can burn while you look for the next rung on the academic or industry pyramid scheme - and with luck you can overcome the not-small hurdles you will need to survive in a science related career.

Mid-Life Crisis

PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2004 9:49 pm
by slingmoon
You have done well . I don't think 42 is so old that influence your career . In china ,there is a old saying that learning while living . Best wishes to you ! All will be passed .