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One-Third of Ph.D.s Lose Interest in Academic Careers, but Not for Lack of Jobs

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Re: One-Third of Ph.D.s Lose Interest in Academic Careers, but Not for Lack of Jobs

Postby D.X. » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:38 am

Nate W. wrote:[/u][/b] It is a rigged system full of cronyism, politics, and favoritism.


Oh my, if that disturbing about Academia, wait until you come to corporate! On this side, you can call it Game of Thrones or House of Cards. Different Problems but same outcomes. You can be hero one day and Zero next day. Some times makes the Problems of academia careers look easy peasy, that is until I put the reality glasses back on remember I was that there.

You could easily title this tread, "Many people lose interest in corporate Jobs, not for lack of Jobs". And it's why many us say Folks at a certain Age and tenure in corporate start looking for other options - we in General have been there, done that, and got the T-shirt, not interested in being this in the Long-term.

So what are me and my Peers doing who have lost interest in corporate careers was we Age(not due to lack of Jobs)?

Well, we're investing in ourselves be it to look for another path working in another sector as an employee or looking to start a Business. We're not depending on any institution to help us.

We're Networking, we, where applicalbe are taking neceassary and self--funded training courses (using our current employer's resources if possible), and doing Hands on research be it desk top or phone calling/Information gathering. Some of us, including me, have started business's on the side to accelerate the learning processes on the path to entrepreneurship of a sustainable business.

In other words, we're taking ownership of career/Job path and we're being entrepreneural. I think once there is an acceptance that career and Job, be it acadmia, corporate or govenment/non Profit Jobs is on us - then we stop the complaining about current Situation and Focus more on how to work and navigate it.

Best,

DX
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Re: One-Third of Ph.D.s Lose Interest in Academic Careers, but Not for Lack of Jobs

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Oct 09, 2017 12:14 pm

Good post DX. I think that much of the advice here on the forum is to "take charge of your career" and that seems to be the general message of your post (and many of mine as well). Those who whine about the environment they are in seem to be waiting for someone to hand them something . . . No one, in a corporate or academic environment, is going to give you anything. You have to figure out what works in particular situation and then whether it works or not for you. If it doesn't, you finish up there and get out.

Dave
"One of the most powerful networking practices is to provide immediate value to a new connection. This means the moment you identify a way to help someone, take action." - Lewis Howes
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Re: One-Third of Ph.D.s Lose Interest in Academic Careers, but Not for Lack of Jobs

Postby Nate W. » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:09 am

DX, I amended my previous comments. I have worked in the private sector and currently work in venture capital. At least, in the private sector, you are more likely to be compensated a fair wage and rewarded for your efforts if you accomplish something. I can not say the same thing about academia; this has everything to due to this recent escalating competition for publication and grants, the inequities in funding, and the scare amount of federal money for research. It has become absurd in recent years and coincides with an increase in scientific misconduct. These trends have led to a hypercompetitive environment whereby people act badly, unethically, or even fraudulently. The bottom line is that when money and jobs are tight people will behave like jerks. Towards the end of my time in academia, I experienced this because I would not turn a blind eye to someone engaged in scientific misconduct and a PI who enabled that misconduct; all in the name of competition and acquiring top tier publications. This also led to a reference lying in a recommendation to keep me in a certain lab despite publishing several papers. It is a tough lesson to learn that you are judged by the company you keep even if it is a supervisor; yet you can't say anything that might be misconstrued as a negative for your next job even if your boss was guilty.

These trends are real and beyond just whining (or work ethic) about academia. Plus, it is beyond the control of the individual in academia trying to make a living even though it directly impacts their career. It is only a select few that work in a few select well funded labs that have a chance to compete for a position in academia that supports a family; whereby the PI of those labs truly cares about mentorship and grooming his students for professorships. Most everyone in graduate school (and post-docing) does not have a chance of professorship and then seeks an alternative track position in the private sector. It is not because most aren't good scientists or lose their interest in science. There is just not that opportunity (due mostly to funding inequities; see articles below) in academia to acquire the credentials to land a tenure track position that would support a family or provide a modest level of financial independence.


Yes, I agree that you have to take ownership of your career. However, you can be both proactive in your career and advocate for change in academia. Most administrators and science professors take tax payer dollars to support their efforts and the mission of the University. Thus, they are public servants and should be held to a certain level of accountability for their actions; creating career solutions for these scientists such that they can make a valuable contribution to both society and the economy (instead they are sheltered in academia and then discarded when the money runs out). I say BS to this obtuse thinking; with my tax dollars! So, I will voice my opinion loudly about their misuse of federal research dollars and the current state of affairs in biomedical research; the funding system is flawed. If used correctly, federal funding for research can create jobs and spur economic growth (but not in this climate and with these current policies). We, the researchers who actually do the work of biomedical research, have a right and obligation to speak our mind about these problems. However, most scientist seem reluctant to voice their opinion out of fear of career reprisal. DX, sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and not dodge the issue; otherwise, there are selfish people who will make those decisions for you or take advantage of your timidness. Ignoring an issue never solves anything; all you can do is speak up and hope there are reasonable people listening.

DX, I have also taken the entrepreneurial route working with a small private equity group to grow a fund for biomedical innovation. It is a refreshing change from academia and allows me to explore different topics in science plus business related areas. However, this transition took some time because there is just not much here in Texas. Remember, not all academic researchers have the same opportunity for advancement within academia and with the transition to an alterative track position in the private sector, especially in non-hub locations. It is not a matter of disinterest or lack of effort on the part of the candidate.

These trends are real and not just the whining of some academics or former academics. Even if they are proactive and "take charge" of their career, it is not easy with many hurdles, not found in most professions, and has nothing to do with the character or talent of the individual. A background in the life sciences is a esoteric skill set that can only be utilized in a University setting in most areas of the country.

Please read the articles which support my position:


https://www.vox.com/2016/7/14/12016710/ ... ew-process

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/16/5773.full
Last edited by Nate W. on Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: One-Third of Ph.D.s Lose Interest in Academic Careers, but Not for Lack of Jobs

Postby Nate W. » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:33 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:Good post DX. I think that much of the advice here on the forum is to "take charge of your career" and that seems to be the general message of your post (and many of mine as well). Those who whine about the environment they are in seem to be waiting for someone to hand them something . . . No one, in a corporate or academic environment, is going to give you anything. You have to figure out what works in particular situation and then whether it works or not for you. If it doesn't, you finish up there and get out.

Dave


Dave, I agree with your sentiments about taking charge of one's career. These hurdles that I talk about and are referenced in these articles are significant barriers to putting yourself in a position to compete for an academic position that provides a modest level of financial independence. This is why people bail on academics not due to a lack of interest in science. The difficulty in transitioning to the private sector is figuring what skills from an esoteric training are relevant to the present problems of a typical private sector job and then figuring how to market your solution to that problem(s) in a proactive manner. Often many former academic scientists can't figure this out; so they go back and get a professional degree that is more ubiquitous, like in a healthcare profession. You can't always blame this on laziness or whining. I also agree with you as one approaches others in the private sector about opportunities it is important to be positive and practical. Nothing deters a potential contact more than negative thoughts about academia or prior work experience (before you get to know them); if you can't put a positive spin on it, don't talk about.

Personally, I just said to myself; I want to be the captain of my career and not put it in the hands of others who might not have my best interests in mind. And I certainly can't trust an academic PI with my career given the present problems of funding. Think a PI in that environment with funding problems, gives a damn about whether a staff scientist in his lab can pay his rent or a mortgage; they don't and there is no incentive for them to care. So, I said to myself I am just going to build something of value (or get equity in for my services) this with the help of a few others who I trust and it if works well, others who I trust can come along for the ride when needed. I could never do this while in academia and have the impact on the commercialization of academic basic research that I do now from the outside of the ivory tower. Why? Because of the problems that I have discussed on this forum and outlined in these articles.

I enjoy bench work but it is not worth sacrificing my financial independence by working in a dysfunctional and potential financially insolvent academic lab; and pay a price for someone's else incompetence that is beyond my control.
Last edited by Nate W. on Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: One-Third of Ph.D.s Lose Interest in Academic Careers, but Not for Lack of Jobs

Postby Nate W. » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:51 pm

D.X. wrote:then we stop the complaining about current Situation and Focus more on how to work and navigate it.


Add how to change it to your statement. Because if you dodge the issues, you will never change anything and perhaps enable the bad that is occurring. A perfect example of this is the adjunct teaching practice in most community colleges and small colleges; it is just plain wrong what these administrators are doing. They could cuts expenses elsewhere, especially in new facilities construction and administrative labor costs. But they cheap out on teaching which is the essence of the college's mission. Then people complain about the quality of education; how stupid can these administrators be? You have to speak up to solve problems and navigate issues; this situation (and many others injustices) happens because we don't stand up to voice our concerns even if it has to be adversarial in nature.

This is where we (DX and I) often disagree; dodging (and looking introspectively) is not always the best approach to solving problems or conflicts in the workplace.
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Re: One-Third of Ph.D.s Lose Interest in Academic Careers, but Not for Lack of Jobs

Postby TFF » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:43 pm

I'm one of the people the article is referring to-- I thought academia could be a decent place to land after my ph.d. Then I got older and saw things. I just didn't like the publish or parish aspect or the r01 grant process. It doesn't seem to reward hard work to me. I left academia to enter the medical writing world and have generally enjoyed it. The compensation has been quite good and I get to learn about a lot of interesting diseases that I would never learn about if I stayed in academics. I greatly admire those who stay with it, but it's not for me and I had a pretty successful graduate experience.
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