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Risks involved with privately funded companies

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Risks involved with privately funded companies

Postby Tony Derten » Wed May 23, 2018 2:25 pm

I have two job offers from privately funded research companies. I am in the situation where after a long postdoc I am very eager to transition to a job. Ultimately, I want to end up in an office-based research position with a medium to large company. As it is, I am offered very reasonably paid lab-based positions, but next to no benefits, with privately funded research labs. These companies are financially stable, but very private, so there is no name recognition, one doesn't even have a web site. There is also no opportunity to develop IP, and may not be possible to publish. All the research conducted there is for the benefit of funders, and may never be publicized.

Would this type of job seriously impede chances of getting a position with a more recognizable company or a well funded startup a couple years down the line?
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Re: Risks involved with privately funded companies

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed May 23, 2018 5:23 pm

Tony,

Didn't you ask these questions in another thread? It sounds so familiar.

I've not run into a lot of those "privately funded research labs. My impressions are, however, that there's nothing wrong with getting a job for a couple or three years in an area that gives you good lab experience. Perhaps they will gave you a chance to develop an area of expertise in more detail, which adds to your CV. Companies aren't all that focused on publications, so that's not an issue. But I think you need to be careful that you're not going into a bad employer who burns through people. Do the others seem genuinely happy who presently work there? Have you asked questions about employee turnover, or questions about what makes for a "successful" employee?

In another thread, you had some counsel from people who told you to make sure it wasn't a flakey kind of employer. I think that if you find out more about how the other employees view the business, you'll learn a good deal. It's great to be cautious, but just because they are privately funded and not up to speed with a lot of fanfare and promotion does NOT by itself make them a bad place to work.

Dave
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Re: Risks invovled with privately funded companies

Postby Tony Derten » Thu May 24, 2018 9:01 am

Dave,

Thanks for your input. It is greatly appreciated, and reading the forum helped navigate through things that I wouldn't have known how to deal with.

I did make another post on the subject, but wanted to ask this in a more pointed way, especially since I have standing offers. In terms of employee turnover, it appears to be minimal, with most people being there for several years, some got promoted. I didn't get the impression that the employer is bad, but they are clearly different from other companies. Ultimately, I'll be likely to accept one of the offers, pending a bit of negotiation. The job sounds very interesting and the experience will be a good addition to my CV. As long as working for a company with zero visibility won't hinder future career prospects, I see no reason not to go for it.

Thanks again for your advice.

Tony
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Re: Risks invovled with privately funded companies

Postby Rich Lemert » Thu May 24, 2018 1:15 pm

I think you've been in academia too long, where publications are considered the "only" measure of your success. There are other ways, however, to make a name for yourself. One approach would be to become very active in your professional society and/or an industrial trade group - volunteer for a couple of technical committees, for example.
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Re: Risks invovled with privately funded companies

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu May 24, 2018 4:44 pm

Rich Lemert wrote:I think you've been in academia too long, where publications are considered the "only" measure of your success. There are other ways, however, to make a name for yourself. One approach would be to become very active in your professional society and/or an industrial trade group - volunteer for a couple of technical committees, for example.


Good comment Rich . . . And publications will have ZIP to do with moving up the small ladder at your future employer, even if they are private funded and very quiet. Employers appreciate good people (most of them, despite the comments we've had in another thread) and I'd expect that if you dug in, a few years from now you could be leading a team. Once you've had that experience, no one will be asking you about papers any longer,

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Re: Risks involved with privately funded companies

Postby Andrew » Sun May 27, 2018 5:47 pm

Papers are irrelevant. Public visibility is irrelevant. There are many companies that only do business with other companies and you've likely never heard of them. Many of them have good jobs and good career paths. You've got to let go of this academic attitude that you have to make yourself famous in order to have a good career. That is only true for faculty members in universities and does not apply to you anymore.
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