Science friction burns my fingers.
November 22, 2010 6:19 PM Subscribe
Where can my career take me except graduate school?
posted by Nomyte to work & money (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have a bachelor's degree in cognitive science and three years of job experience as an assistant at a non-medical human research center. I handle all of the more mundane aspects of research: subject recruitment, data collection, analysis, working with project managers, and so on. I really like the variety of tasks, the challenges, the fact that the job matches my education background, and especially the very extensive opportunities for formal and informal education. The pay is OK, and since I work for the state, I will never get a raise.
In many respects, the job is considered to be a stepping stone to grad school. I'm uncertain about applying. Maybe I'm being too tough on myself, but I don't think I have the qualities it takes to take full advantage of a doctorate program at the moment. First and foremost, I have no specific research interests of my own. I'd also hate to go to grad school out of obligation, because "everyone else does it."
Moreover, while I've been with my employer, I've seen few other assistants head in that direction. We are affiliated with the federal government. So, like pretty much every organization in the DC area, we work on government contracts and are entered into the federal clearance process.
As a natural consequence, assistants who receive their clearances quickly move on to work for other organizations where they are paid much more handsomely.
For a variety of reasons, I suspect I may not receive a clearance. This means that I can't look forward to an easy transition to a more lucrative job in the private sector. It also means that it's hard for me to network with former coworkers, who all seemingly work in these positions.
So, the question is, are there other organizations where I can apply my research skills, or is it grad school for me by hook or by crook?
In a nutshell, I have some research admin experience, some experience actually carrying out human performance research, some experience with brain imaging tools and software, some programming experience (mostly analyzing data in Matlab), some practical knowledge of modern stats, and some skills in science writing.
I appreciate suggestions for directions to investigate. Specific suggestions are particularly welcome.