What did you do with your molecular biology PhD?
May 26, 2012 8:02 PM Subscribe
I'm doing a PhD in molecular biology, and I want to get a broader feel for my options when I graduate.
posted by jlibera to work & money (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm from Europe, but currently studying in Canada, and I'd prefer to work outside the U.S. I enjoy my work (which has a strong evolutionary focus), and have always wanted to go on a career in academia.
But I've also been watching my colleagues moving from postdoc to postdoc into their forties, or struggle miserably to find a more permanent position, and I've seen the funding situation for basic science everywhere go from bad to worse (work in our field is super fun, but has absolutely no short-term applications in the real world). And lately, I've been feeling disenchanted with the general culture of academia - the lack of a life outside the lab (really, academia can feel like a cult at times), the ridiculous little interpersonal dramas, and the fact that so much time at higher levels seems to involve grant-writing or teaching rather than doing science anyway. A final thing that's been bothering me is that I feel as though after the first postdoc at the latest, it becomes a lot harder to change job (i.e. research) directions or countries than it would be outside academia, and I enjoy experiencing life in different countries. What I do still love is learning about the world around me. I'm a huge introvert, but I do appreciate the chance to work with people from many different countries, who are interested in the world at large, and with whom I can share geeky jokes.
So while I'm still looking at postdocs, I'm also looking into jobs in industry; but more importantly, I'm trying to learn more about other, less traditional career paths (science policy, teaching or academic publishing being the obvious ones), particularly ones that would allow me to travel. I've been reading up on anything I can find online, but thought I'd ask MeFi for more personal experiences.
So I'd love to hear from anyone who left academia after getting a PhD in biology, preferably on the molecular side of things. How did you find your new job? What differences did you notice in the overall culture? What about the hours and benefits? Did you actually end up using your PhD for it? Do you regret your decision at all, and why/why not? Did you find that any of the things you disliked about academia turned out to be universal? Did you find it easy or hard to stay in touch with friends from grad school who stayed the academic route?