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Career advice

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Career advice

Postby Aditi C. » Wed May 31, 2017 1:56 am

Hi,

I am a first year doctoral student pursuing stem cell research. Let me get into the matter without beating around the bush. I have lost the enthusiasm to pursue my project. I still love research have no problems with my current project yet I do not seem to enjoy being in research.
I had a productive Master's with a first author publication in a 3.9 impact factor journal (21 citations in two years). Worked for two years as Research assistant before deciding onto pursuing PhD. I did have my apprehensions yet when I got into the lab that I wanted to further work on and an exciting PhD project, I made up my mind to pursue it. And so far have done well. Currently authoring a paper on a project that I was working past a year, did well in all my courses, was placed for my poster presentation. Attended couple of conferences, workshops. Overall a very hard-working​ yet fulfilling year. Yet now am very unsure and as I mentioned earlier not happy at all.

I have always felt an urge to pursue the non traditional science jobs such as Regulatory affairs, Science Policy and Healthcare management. But because research is also something I enjoyed doing I thought of going ahead and pursuing PhD. I told myself that if I still wanted to pursue the above mentioned jobs, I could
use the skills I developed from doctorial training (i.e. written, communication skills) towards developing a career in these fields. However I feel like switching direction and working​ towards non traditional science careers. I did communicate the same with my senior colleagues, but everyone seem to be of the opinion that since am good in research and I love it, I should continue and get my degree and after perhaps pursue a career in science policy or other non academic jobs as there are numerous cases happening that way. I find myself at crossroads and also wondering if quitting would look bad.

I would love to have some opinion on the same from this forum before I take a crucial decision.

Regards,
Aditi.
Aditi C.
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:44 pm

Re: Career advice

Postby D.X. » Wed May 31, 2017 7:53 am

Aditi C. wrote:Hi,

I am a first year doctoral student pursuing stem cell research. Let me get into the matter without beating around the bush. I have lost the enthusiasm to pursue my project. I still love research have no problems with my current project yet I do not seem to enjoy being in research.
I had a productive Master's with a first author publication in a 3.9 impact factor journal (21 citations in two years). Worked for two years as Research assistant before deciding onto pursuing PhD. I did have my apprehensions yet when I got into the lab that I wanted to further work on and an exciting PhD project, I made up my mind to pursue it. And so far have done well. Currently authoring a paper on a project that I was working past a year, did well in all my courses, was placed for my poster presentation. Attended couple of conferences, workshops. Overall a very hard-working​ yet fulfilling year. Yet now am very unsure and as I mentioned earlier not happy at all.

I have always felt an urge to pursue the non traditional science jobs such as Regulatory affairs, Science Policy and Healthcare management. But because research is also something I enjoyed doing I thought of going ahead and pursuing PhD. I told myself that if I still wanted to pursue the above mentioned jobs, I could
use the skills I developed from doctorial training (i.e. written, communication skills) towards developing a career in these fields. However I feel like switching direction and working​ towards non traditional science careers. I did communicate the same with my senior colleagues, but everyone seem to be of the opinion that since am good in research and I love it, I should continue and get my degree and after perhaps pursue a career in science policy or other non academic jobs as there are numerous cases happening that way. I find myself at crossroads and also wondering if quitting would look bad.

I would love to have some opinion on the same from this forum before I take a crucial decision.

Regards,
Aditi.


Hi Aditi,

Reading your post - since you are ok with doing Research now without dislike I would recommend you finish the PhD work provided you're on your current path without any foreable risks to completion. Then, consider other careers where your scientific mindset and experiences can be leveraged.

With the PhD you'll potentially have more doors to open and have more advancement opportunities availalbe looking to the future.

Whereas you can certainly quit and if you said you hated the work and wanted to move on, I'd give other advice. Those careers you're seeking can certainly be accessible but for you as an individual where you can survive in academia, why not make the pursuit with PhD in Hand vs not?

Others may argue go now in the view that the earlier you start making income the better - yes and no when you're looking at only 2 to 3 years more, not really. Plus you can use your future time in the lab to narrow down your interests, hopefully you're smart enough to dedicate time to this now and not be in the same "i don't know which" path mindset by then - which would put you in an Advantage spot when it Comes to directing your Investment and engergies career wise at that Point.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

DX
D.X.
 
Posts: 1081
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Re: Career advice

Postby PG » Wed May 31, 2017 8:19 am

Anyone that has completed a PhD can tell you taht during yrou PHD training you will have ups and downs in how you feel about science, how confident you are in yourself and that a scientific career is for you or not.
Several people that I have seen go throught this have hit lows at least two times during their PhD training (which is usually 4-5 years long around here). The first time 6-18 months into their training when the work is starting to become a bit more repetitive, you may run into your first real setbacks in the projects you are working on or maybe you have published your first paper and need to find new energy and direction for your continued work.

The second time has usually been relatively close to the timepoint when it is time to start writing on your thesis. At this Point I have seen several people starting to question themselves. Are they really smart/good enough and do they really want to go out and compete on a sometimes rather competitive market either for grants or for non academic positions? They see that the work they have been doing for a few years is getting to an end while what is after the PhD is usually still an unknown. Once they have made up their minds and actually gotten started with working on their thesis it usually gets better again and they start seeing the thesis as a step towards something else.

My advice would be to try to work your way through what might very well be a shorter period of time not feeling happy about what you are doing. In addition to continuing yoru PhD work spend some time networking and thinking about what you actually want to do and how your PhD can support you in the career that you are interested in.
PG
 
Posts: 956
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm


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