the community site for and by developmental biologists

2 thoughts on “Where scientists fear to tread”

  1. Caroline’s post exactly reflects my own experience when I left the lab. Even recently – when meeting someone I’d not seen in a long time – I’ve had the conversation about what I do, only to be told “Oh, but I thought you were good at research”, as if to imply that my leaving the lab must mean that I wasn’t.

    We’d love to hear other people’s experiences of discussing career options with their colleagues and bosses – do you feel like all the options are open to you or do you find yourself under pressure to pursue an academic path?

  2. As a kind of a junior-level PI in France, I have long felt my ineptitude in offering other possibilities to my trainess. And yet, they have gone on to do many other things. So far, only one has obtained tenure and another is on her way; the others have gone off to do a number of other things that enable us to connect up on LinkedIn unashamedly. Just this morning, I had a conversation with someone outside of science about how there were few other options for which I knew how to prepare my students other than the academic pathway which I knew myself, and that of a couple of private-sector firms relevant to our field to which I myself had applied as an umemployed post-postdoc. The best solution to this is data. Where *do* the Ph.Ds from a given university program end up five, ten, twenty years down the line? This is immensely helpful to the younger generations moving up. Rather than feeling ashamed or embarrassed to have stepped off one particular track onto another, alumni can and should be proud of where they have been – intentions don’t matter anymore – and probably have lots of wisdom to share with the people who have the choice to actively engage in these non-academic careers after their Ph.D.s. And we advisors will feel less sorry about grooming another Ph.D. here or there who will likely suffer from unemployment at some point, and from a lot of soul-searching at the very least. I have turned away multiple candidates to encourage them to pursue other degrees or career paths, when they expressed an interest therein. This is not very good for my lab, but some of them stay in touch and it’s been good for them.


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