How do I get out from under the choking grip of bench work?

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How do I get out from under the choking grip of bench work?

Postby GAT » Fri Jan 28, 2005 6:02 pm

Dear TF,

My two cents

In the immediate future: No way, unless you do not want to stay as a biomedical scientist.

In the short term: There will be functions which are not lab related and you would actually enjoy in your next job. It might be a good idea to focus on them to get away from lab

In the medium term: You will definetly have a job out of lab, if you are really determined to stay out of the lab. When there is a will, there is a way.

In the long term: As great economist Keynes said. In the long run everybody is dead.

Gokce Toruner
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Hey, bench work is not too bad.

Postby Erik » Fri Jan 28, 2005 6:34 pm

Quit whining, get your phd, take a few months off, and take a fresh look at what you really want.

To Erik

Postby Jim » Fri Jan 28, 2005 6:44 pm

It does appear that the general consensus on this site is that it is not a good thing for a Ph D to leave the field IF they want or will need the possibility to re-enter it after a break as you suggest.

Please share with us how your experience with taking a break went after completing your Ph D.

Thanks for your insight.

Hey, bench work is not too bad.

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:18 pm

I'd appreciate reader feedback on this. . . Does Erik''s post deserved to be removed? We generally remove posts when they get nasty or don't progress the converstion in some way. This one is borderline. Sounds nasty, but not nasty enough to make the "cut." If reader feedback warrants it, this post is history.

I don't think it provides the original poster with any good advice or new direction.

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
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Hey, bench work is not too bad.

Postby MPB » Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:23 pm

"If reader feedback warrants it, this post is history."

I don't know. I can see Erik's point. There is something to be said for doing exactly what he recommends, although Erik's tone might be a bit harsh. The OP does seem to be maybe more focused on complaining than problem solving.

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Erik's Post

Postby Andy » Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:46 pm


I re-read the original post (haven't read the other posts). TF was not whining, just stating the FACT that he doesn't want to be at the bench long-term. Erik's post was not very helpful, perhaps because he misinterpreted TF's post as stating he wanted to quit grad school.

No need to remove, but it would be nice if people would either offer up a considered opinion or refrain from posting.



actually, some kinds of benchwork are just plain awful

Postby S » Fri Jan 28, 2005 9:45 pm

Hello TF,

Maybe the problem is not that you have a distaste for benchwork -- maybe it\'s the type of benchwork that\'s the problem. Do you have to do experiments on live animals? I can see how that might not be very much fun. But consider that there are many other kinds of scientific work that are extremely pleasant and that you might enjoy a huge amount.

actually, some kinds of benchwork are just plain awful

Postby TF » Sat Jan 29, 2005 9:31 am

As the OP poster, I don't think that Erik's post needs to be removed. Web forums always seem to have at least a couple of "internet tough guys", and I guess this is no different. It is clear that Erik either doesn't understand my question/s or didn't read them. Not sure how me asking what my alternative options are and how to get there is whining, but, I guess to certain people it could be be. Oh well.


You're right, there are some types of research that is worse than others. Different people are just more at home with certain techniques. I do slice e-phys, and it isn't really a bad technique. But, I am getting really, really bored with it. I have been doing the same thing for almost 3 yrs! But there are tons of other types of experiments to be done. I really like doing in vivo work actually. Animal surgeries and such I find to be pretty relaxing! Unfortunately, what I don't like about behavioral studies in general is the level of analysis. Such work doesn't get seep enough into the root causes of the problem like many other types of experiments. I like looking at things at more of a cellular or even network level. So areas like e-phys, molecular, immuno-cytochemical give me the answers that I find to be more interesting. The problem is the generation of the answers. Unfortunately, I feel far more comfortable dealing with words than I do with numbers. While this might sound professor-like, as these folks rely quite a bit on writing for their salary, I don't think I would fit in there either. I have no interest in trying to be one of the 20% or so of applicants who get a funded RO1. I also loathe the idea of teaching. Some people are absolutely brilliant in such an environment. Given the experience I have had in this area, I am not one of those people by a long shot!

Basically I would like to find a job where I can use the analytical skills I learned during my Ph.D, have a clear and defined goal along with rewards, steady and decent pay, benfits such as retirement (which is one of the major reasons I don't want to post-doc), be removed from running experiments, and work a 9-5 job, with occassional weekends and late nights. Travel would be a plus. This is the skeleton of my ideal job.
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Erik's post II

Postby Doug » Sat Jan 29, 2005 9:58 am

I think two points should be made about Erik's post. First, it isn't really very helpful outside the context of seeing what the most terse, cut-to-the-chase response could possibly be. More important, it points out what some people construe as "whining" is much deeper than that. Re-reading the original post, TF seems to be going through what a LOT of grad students go through (many many more than care to admit), which is a high level of anxiety and insecurity that seems to drive an overall negative attitude in general. I'm not trying to be a therapist or anything, but it's more common than many think.

actually, some kinds of benchwork are just plain awful

Postby Ken » Sat Jan 29, 2005 12:29 pm

TF, your ideal job sounds like a scientist position in industry. You would have to do a postdoc, but as I recommended in a previous post, postdocing in industry in also similar to your ideal job.

Salaries are considerably better than academic postdocs, many have a retirement plan (I have a good matching 401k plan), numerous financial and other benefits. When you\'re done, you have the coveted \"industry experience\" and an industry network.

I think you are just bored. After however many years of PhD, that is expected; I felt exactly the same as you only a year ago.

And, by the way Fast Company magazine just named \"medical scientist\" the number 2 best job in the coming five years. Not sure what to make of that!

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