What else can I do with my PhD?
March 2, 2011 4:14 PM Subscribe
Please help me, a first-year postdoc in auditory neuroscience, think of alternate career paths.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a young post-doc just out of graduate school in auditory neuroscience (studying human subjects). I went to a cognitive science PhD program, and moved about six months ago to take this post-doc position. This is what I've been working towards for over a decade, but lately I've been increasingly dissatisfied with academic life.
I love learning about new areas of study and the feeling of investigating a question no-one else has studied before, but I hate the workaholic atmosphere--my boss just implicitly chided me for not working an 80-hour week, for example. I've also found that the constant pressure to publish encourages people to churn out work that's similar to what they've already done in order to inflate their publication count, and I haven't the slightest interest in doing that. The day-to-day reality of doing science is dominated, far more than I ever imagined as a student, by scrabbling for grant money and petty jockeying for position and worrying about one's stats and selling one's work in borderline intellectually dishonest ways.
I think I might be happier if I could at least think of an alternate path that would fit who I am and what I'm good at, but I've been dismayed to find that I can't even imagine myself in a different career path. What do PhD's who decide they hate the academic life do? Like many scientists, I know a little bit about how to do a variety of things. I'm a competent writer, but couldn't compete with those who've really devoted themselves to the craft. I can program a bit, but no-one in their right mind would hire me as a programmer. The work I've done doesn't lend itself to industry. I've done a bit of teaching but have no idea if I'd really be good at it or if it's something I would enjoy as a full-time job.
I feel trapped, and as a result right now it seems as if my only option is to hunker down, work 80 hours a week, and ignore the growing anomaly in my stomach. Please tell me this is not the case.