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People you know who left academia...what did they go on to do?

(37 Posts)
CoffeeAddictionUnderway Sun 28-Aug-16 09:21:44

Just curious. Not that I was banging my head against a wall this week wondering if I would survive outside 'the academy', or anything.

CoffeeAddictionUnderway Sun 28-Aug-16 09:26:40

N.B. I suppose some indication of discipline they escaped from left, role level/life stage may be helpful too.

Also whether they thrived / were pleased with said escape?

user1471134011 Sun 28-Aug-16 09:42:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

clarityofthesweetvariety Sun 28-Aug-16 09:47:24

Real estate investment and economics background- ten years in academia. Children followed by a career break, confidence deserted me for a while. Realised there was more to life than career progression and now work in pastoral and behavioural care in a primary school. Absolutely love it and it works around my family. Don't regret the change (but sometimes miss the salary)

CoffeeAddictionUnderway Sun 28-Aug-16 10:17:43

Ah thanks! Yes I should've said if there is anyone out there who made the leap themselves, too, would be great to hear.

I just feel like the upstream swim that is academia makes me feel like life is passing me by. (As a lecturer on £35k and almost 40 years old, it's not like I'm hugely well remunerated either!)

Encouraging to hear these stories.

DownHereInTheHorridHouse Sun 28-Aug-16 10:24:13

I lectured for ten years, then moved into journalism, now I'm a ghost writer.

There is absolutely no way I could be an academic these days (not that I'd still be considered!) - maybe I was never cut out for it, but the constant chasing of grants, journal madness, everything other than lecturing . . . I just couldn't do it.

NotDavidTennant Sun 28-Aug-16 10:35:59

I'm in psychology, and the people I know who left academia went into either:

a) The applied side of the field (e.g. clinical psych, speech and language therapy)


b) Research jobs in organisations outside academia (e.g. NHS, National Office of Statistics).


c) Working for our suppliers.

These were all people who left at postdoc level though.

clarityofthesweetvariety Sun 28-Aug-16 12:41:49

I know of several who went into the research side of industry in my field, 3x the salary but high pressure and long hours. I made SL at 28 but wasn't able to progress any further after having children. Made the decision to leave at 35. I enjoyed it while it lasted but equally glad I left when I did- things changed significantly whilst I was on career break (5 years in all)

CoffeeAddictionUnderway Sun 28-Aug-16 18:18:18

Down it's great that you empathise...and sounds like you found a very interesting career to replace it with!

CoffeeAddictionUnderway Sun 28-Aug-16 18:22:36

Clarity 28 is very young for SL? You must've done well in your 20s.

Not - good to know they had quite a few options, though as you say they were postdoc level. I think by the time people get to my age they often think well, I've made my bed so better lie in it!

MedSchoolRat Sun 28-Aug-16 21:17:58

project management I hear about, quite a bit, for companies.

env. impact assessment -> env impact consultancy
env. policy -> local govt
data/image processing -> product development
chemistry -> animal conservation (zoo)

DoctorGilbertson Sun 28-Aug-16 21:53:50

I did consultancy for 18 months. Not sure I would recommend it, but full of ex-academics

DoctorGilbertson Sun 28-Aug-16 21:54:23

PS I left at postdoc level

Jaimx86 Sun 28-Aug-16 22:00:21

My DP left his lecturing role for a management role at the uni. Good hours, excellent holidays and equal pay. He does miss the intellectual challenges of his lecturing role though.

CoffeeAddictionUnderway Sun 28-Aug-16 22:16:26

Hmmm yes - university administration does appeal somewhat I have to say! Being able to clock off and (for instance) not spend the whole of my bank holiday working!

jclm Mon 29-Aug-16 16:08:21

I have left academia! I am working as a grant officer in the third sector. I worked for 6 years as a post doc researcher. My salary is £25k but only 7 hours work a day and no working at home in my spare time.

One friend left a lecturing post to train as a psychoanalyst.

aniakg28 Tue 30-Aug-16 11:15:55

Sociology PhD turned IT project manager - I left after finishing a year of research assistant post after finishing my PhD

CoffeeAddictionUnderway Tue 30-Aug-16 16:43:58

That's interesting Aniak - did you spend long retraining or did you have those IT skills already?

CoffeeAddictionUnderway Tue 30-Aug-16 16:45:38

Yep jclm would love a job that was only 7 hrs a day! I'm not a parent and I hear that some academics who are parents never allow their work to bleed into home time. I just don't know how they do it though. (Maybe they're just more efficient...)

Am taking a dissertation home to read tonight as I write.

forkhandles4candles Tue 30-Aug-16 16:52:54

I know someone who was in medieval literature in Germany who left to take up a post in the church. Less money I believe but not a dissimilar set of tasks on the pastoral side.

Another person I knew in Humanities retrained as a lawyer. heard him on the radio discussing housing law. I expect the salary is better in his case.

Bountybarsyuk Tue 30-Aug-16 18:15:38

Coffee I have to limit my work as have lots of caring responsibilities and children. It is possible to do it, but you have to accept you won't fly up the career ladder as fast as some other shooting stars. If you can, and you can work steadily though, it's actually good to work like that for the longer-term. I do work long hours when grants are due, chapters need to be finished or whatever, but I don't work 10-12 hour days and 6 days a week like some academics, I simply can't.

DownHereInTheHorridHouse Tue 30-Aug-16 18:43:26

Coffee - I most certainly do empathise; most people have no idea what academics do - not as their day job, not as someone who can barely stop to draw breath. It really is constant.

Yes, this is an interesting job - I was a journalist in between, but I like this. I get to speak to fascinating people and hear amazing stories, so can't complain really.

Best of luck to you whatever you decide.

shovetheholly Wed 31-Aug-16 15:25:56

In my year (arts & hums), trying not to out myself too much because some of these are unique jobs:

- financial journalist (ker-ching)
- theatre critic for broadsheet
- working in a museum gift shop & writing novels
- CEO of a new tech company
- illustrator & writer

I'm very definitely the underachieving failure! smile

aniakg28 Thu 01-Sep-16 12:18:52

Short version: the key training was PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification which takes 5 days but is fairly useless without project management experience. The longer story is on a blog post I wrote: - basically, I fell into project management through e-learning and then parlayed that into a career in IT. Happy to chat further if you have any more questions!

CoffeeAddictionUnderway Thu 01-Sep-16 15:59:15

Thanks a lot aniak. I have to say I always look at project managers with much envy - in the sense that they have a skill that can be taken 'anywhere'. Unlike my academic career which is incredibly niche, and if I lost this job, lord knows where I'd be able to find gainful employment elsewhere!

Will look at your blog entry eagerly and if I have any Qs will deffo let you know. Thank you flowers

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