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

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actually, some kinds of benchwork are just plain awful

Postby Lora » Sat Jan 29, 2005 8:04 pm

TF:

Wow, you actually LIKE in vivo work?

Somewhere, there is an industrial preclinical/toxicology lab position with your name on it. Most people who take those positions burn out on it in record time, because everyone hates the in vivo work so much. I've seen enthusiastic, interested, motivated people fresh from their Master's quit within one year in tears. So if you find some way to say this up front with employers, that in vivo work interests you, you have years of experience working with animals and still find it interesting (of course, when I say "interesting" here, I mean, "I don't go home and cry for three hours over the day's euthanasia subjects"), I think this would be very, VERY attractive to industrial employers. Tox labs are not usually as picky about industrial experience as other labs are due to the burnout rate, and they usually pay better too: Ricerca, in Ohio, paid up to 30% more than any other science/engineering employer in the region because of this.

The worst bench work I've ever done, apart from in vivo work (because I do cry on euthanasia days) had to be failure analysis for a rubber gasket used in a sewage treatment plant--it was degraded by fecal bacteria, and the client mailed it to me unlabeled in a paper bag. The worst I've ever *heard of* was from a friend at the Montana State Center for Biofilm Engineering who analysed the biofilms formed on used tampons. The things we do for knowledge!
Lora
 

Getting back to point: choking grips and posts

Postby Emil Chuck » Sun Jan 30, 2005 9:15 am

I go away to organize a career-development day-long discussion on balancing family and career responsibilities at Duke, then prep for the university's career fair conference, and a discussion like this breaks out!

First to the original post: admittedly it may be too late now that you are forced to look, but everyone out here should begin to think of that "exit strategy" earlier. Like TWO years before you exit. The last year you really ought to be applying for jobs based on the experiences and information you got the year before. That's not to say it's too late now... in fact, it's never too late, but you have to take the first step now.

This weekend at Duke's second annual university-wide career fair/conference, a Duke MBA alumna named Alison Levine (has her own website as she is now a professional motivational speaker) talked about how her experiences in climbing to the summit (actually 250' short of it) of Mount Everest is applicable to one's career paths. Obviously you had to be there, but think of where you are and where you want to be. Then think about bridging that gap with more achievable goals (I like to call them signposts or mileposts) to get from where you are to where you want. If you want regulatory experience, then YOU have to go out and find out what that experience is like. Before you go off thinking you need to apply to McDonald's or Wal-Mart, read the articles here on Next Wave.

She also talked about one time she wanted to scale a particular mountain but when she got there, access was forbidden. She didn't take "No" for an answer (since she blew 60K ff miles for it), and was told, "You probably could go if you had the Indonesian army escort you." Well, ... she had a picture of her Indonesian army escort. :) She also had a quote whom I think was attributed to Jim Valvano (but I could be wrong, I didn't take notes) as the strength of one's character can be measured by the amount of effort it takes to discourage him/her.

So suffice it to say, the whole purpose of Next Wave is to guide young scientists along the career path of personal career fulfillment. The accumulated knowledge of this database is incredible and immense, but in it you can find the information about jobs you want. But you must follow through. Talk to your advisor, your family, your friends, your department chairs, your institutional HR manager, your graduate deans, ... if you're at a university, there is someone who can help you (like your university career counselor). There are networks through your university career center (current or as an alumnus) that can link you up to more possibilities in careers and get you informational interviews.

So getting away from a job that you really despise is not impossible. You have to have the courage to walk away if it's not for you. Alison walked away from being part of Goldman Sachs and raking in unbelieveable amounts of money and security to go solo (eventually) as a motivational speaker and executive of a non-profit organization... because the latter is more self-fulfilling for her.

So if you want to change, get the facts, get the contacts, decide the path you want to take, and map out your strategy to get from where you are to where you want. Just know that the plan is never permanent, and you may have to change (just like conditions are never perfect when climbing up to the summit of Everest).

You are responsible for your own happiness, and you have the power to change your life every single day.
Emil Chuck
 
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Getting back to point: choking grips and posts

Postby TF » Mon Jan 31, 2005 12:01 pm

There have been some good suggestions made during the weekend! Thank you! I never really thought of toxicology, but I don't think I really have the knowledge or expertise for such a field, but it is something I may take a look into for completeness sake. I always thought that if I was go get an MD, I would be a surgeon. I like to take things apart, fix them, or modify them, and put them back together. Probably part of the reason I like cars so much.

I'm not to sure what the purpose of Emil's post was. I mean it wasn't nasty or anything, but it seemed to be rather inappropriate at the same time. My very presence on here and the precise information I was asking for (what are the alternatives and how to get there in a nutshell) kind of imply that I am looking to change and making an attempt to do so. Trust me, I am not relying on the responders here to make the decisions for me, but I was hoping for something inciteful as for job options and/or strategies for such positions. Many have provided some interesting ideas and generally good feedback. As suggested by Emil I have already read quite a bit on this site. And yes, I have been in contact already with people who are in different places in science. But I was hoping there would be others on this site who could give me some first hand info. No need for the motivational letter, that sounds more patronizing than anything else.

I had two simple questions basically. I would really like to thank those who gave constructive replies, I very much appreciate it.

TF
TF
 
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What was Emil's point?

Postby David » Mon Jan 31, 2005 12:24 pm

TF said:
"I'm not to sure what the purpose of Emil's post was...My very presence on here ...kind of imply that I am looking to change and making an attempt to do so. "

I think that Emil's point was to be insprirational and I actually thought his post was excellent. Earlier on you joked that you might head off to Walmart and generally gave us a picture of your despondency.
Sometimes having a rousing reply where you are told that the only thing stopping you achieving something is yourself; is as important as someone saying have you thought about do XYZ in company ABC

Just a thought!


David
David
 

What was Emil's point?

Postby TF » Mon Jan 31, 2005 12:55 pm

David,

I suppose you are right. Though my actions speak louder than my words. If I was really that far gone and lacked that much motivation I would not have even bothered to check out this forum.

Unfortunately, though, intention and emotion are often times very hard to convey in written word over the internet, w/out being very literal and verbose. Either way, I was being a bit dramatic in a couple of my replies to better ensure that people reply and to show that I am in a definite conundrum. Squeaky wheel gets the grease type thing. Though I guess some picked up more on the dramatics than the underlying issue. Not all though, which is really why I posted. Hoping to find someone on here who either:

a: Has gone through my exact situation
b: Has some other source of pertinant info
c: As I mentioned earlier, I don't know everyone who reads this board, maybe there is someone reading this who has a job that I might fit well. Who knows, any and everything is worth a try right now.
TF
 
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What was Emil's point?

Postby MPB » Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:03 pm


In addition to the other things I mentioned, you might look into being a patent agent. You don't need to go to law school but you do need to study for and pass a patent bar examination.

MPB
 
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What was Emil's point?

Postby TF » Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:17 pm

It's funny you mention patent agent, I recently read an older issue of "The Scientist" that spoke about being a patent agent. Some interesting stuff. My only issue, and I could totally be wrong here, is that there doesn't seem to be much room for advancement. I would think the only way up is with a JD. Nothing was really mentioned about advancement as an examiner.

I did hear that the patent bar was quite a bit easier than the std bar exam.
TF
 
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Getting back to point: choking grips and posts

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:28 pm

TF said "But I was hoping there would be others on this site who could give me some first hand info. No need for the motivational letter, that sounds more patronizing than anything else."

Personally, I lost interest in this thread when you said that you were going to WalMart. I don't think that was a swift comment, but it brought out a motivational post from Emil which I thought was excellent.

I think you've pretty much tapped the resources of the forum at this point, as many people have had similar situations to yours and they have commented with their ideas and experiences.

Good luck to you, and I hope you can remain a bit more positive, as this is often more than 50% of a person's job search success.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
"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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What was Emil's point?

Postby MPB » Mon Jan 31, 2005 2:10 pm


I don't know about advancement. A friend who is a biotech IP attorney has told me that PhDs who are patent agents do pretty well; many work as self-employed consultants. I think the exam is only administered once or twice a year so you need to plan ahead.

MPB
 
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What was Emil's point?

Postby TF » Mon Jan 31, 2005 2:23 pm

mpb,

That's some good info, thanks. I'll have to look into the patent bar exam. It's kind of weird that you can take the bar, pass it, and not be a lawyer. As an aside, I wonder if someone took the regular bar exam and passed, if they could do anything in the law profession having just passed that one exam?

Anyway, thanks for the tip, I'll have to google up some more stuff on patent examiner and the patent bar.

TF
 
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