Academic common room
MadScientist10 · 05/01/2018 20:44
I’m having a bit of a crisis at the moment. I completed my PhD (biochemistry/immunology) about 7 years ago and worked as a post-doctoral researcher for some time. Over the course of the last 7 or so years I worked for about 5.5 years in academia and taken time off to have our 2 DSs.
I essentially wanted to know if any of you/ex-colleagues/friends have managed to leave academia and transition into a new field? I’m looking for some inspiration! Our second DS turns 1 in the summer and I’d like to go back to something different than bench science.
I wasn’t sure if this is the best place to post so may also post on the back to work forum! Thanks in advance for any insight!!
BobbinThreadbare123 · 05/01/2018 20:47
I work in industry. Money is good and there's lots of variety. I was a teacher for a while too. I really hope you don't get loads of 'train to be a teacher' suggestions, OP. It's exhausting, not family friendly and can be soul destroying.
MadScientist10 · 05/01/2018 23:14
Thanks for replying. I nearly became a teacher pre-PhD but after working in a school for a few months as a part of a government scheme encouraging teacher training I decided against it.
What do you do in industry? Prior to falling pregnant I went for an interview for a relatively senior and varied roll but I think following my couple of years ‘break’ I’ll be too out of touch to be competitive...
MrsBadger · 05/01/2018 23:24
We had a grant we'd though secure suddenly go bad and were all offered voluntary redundancy. It came through in the end but about half of us jumped ship.
Dd had just started school and I was on '3 days spread over 5' and couldn't find anything relevant at similar hours.
I ploughed my redundancy money into the family business, retrained in bookkeeping and basic accounting, and work school hours running the admin side of the business while DH and his team do sales and technical.
Best call I've ever made, but I was never ambitious enough to get very far in academia.
MrsBadger · 05/01/2018 23:31
(Oh, I meant to say, of those that left, some went to other research groups, two to teaching, one to industry and one to non-bench science academia, research ethics I think.)
BobbinThreadbare123 · 06/01/2018 08:51
My PhD is in physics. I am an engineering physicist and I make sure people don't get horribly irradiated. I also do some research for my company; got more papers published now than I did in academia!
I wouldn't worry about being out of touch, OP. I have done two other things before what I do now and they counted as experience, despite being unrelated. They were both sciencey!
user1494149444 · 06/01/2018 09:50
My background is humanities, but I had sciencey boffin friends, let me think:
One left after PhD, trained as a lawyer, now works as in-house legal rep for tech companies
One went into industry at a researcher level. She had been in industry before. I don't think she finds it much different from working in the lab in academic tbh.
One has gone into the corporate world, lots of travel, but I think you need to be ambitious to keep going.
A not insignificant few did go into teaching (sorry...)
A two year career break because of children will not hinder you if you want to go into industry, but I think the question could be, do you feel ambitious enough to succeed once there, as IME the pressures are the same as in academia (although the financial rewards are higher).
Could you ask around at your Uni to see if there are any other positions going away from bench science?
MadScientist10 · 07/01/2018 16:04
Thanks for the replies! Pre-babies I was relatively motivated and moving along but after having kids I want something that provides a reward proportional to the effort you put in. I was actually thinking of retraining completely and doing something like accountancy where I might be able to work for myself in future but at 32 (33 by the time I return to work) I feel like I’ll be starting from scratch and that is a bit demoralising!
Will have a closer look at industry - maybe publishing? Anyone have experience of that?? Thanks so much for the replies!
parietal · 07/01/2018 16:45
Look up daphne Jackson fellowships. They are ideal for your situation.
BobbinThreadbare123 · 07/01/2018 18:09
I've got publishing experience. Approach cautiously. It's not easy to get into and freelancing, which I did, is not a way to make a steady income. It is flexible though. It was a stopgap for me. You can PM me if you like, OP. You're younger than I am, and I switched jobs when I was a teeny bit older than you.
BellPresser · 19/01/2018 17:25
MadScientist, I was reading yours and I thought it was me writing! I’ve been lurking on MN for a while and your post made me register and this is my first post here.
Yes, you story was mine. I quite just over a year ago and started my own business. And you could use so much of the research expertise in business! I won’t be going back!
CaptainWentworth · 19/01/2018 17:37
I’m a year or so older than you OP, but not done the kids thing yet. I have a PhD in biological chemistry, but wasn’t sure enough of myself to attempt to stay in research afterwards. I tried to get jobs in industry but there weren’t many in the right geographical areas back near the start of the financial crisis.
I ended up training as an accountant, which I wasn’t sure about to begin with. However the work appeals to my analytical side and I’m now in a nice flexible role that pays relatively ok. There were people from all backgrounds on my graduate training scheme. I currently work in one of the big 4 on the audit side, where most roles are quite high pressured and there can be a lot of travelling involved. It’s also hard work doing your exams whilst working. However the pay is good and goes up every time you pass exams, so can rise quickly, and there are good opportunities for progression, although flexibility is rarer at lower grades (i feel lucky to have my current job). It’s also a secure job in that there always seems to be demand for qualified, experienced accountants.
I originally trained in the public sector (that employer no longer exists unfortunately, hence my move to private sector) and I think it may be less stressful doing that or training ‘in industry’ ie whilst working in the finance dept of a large organisation, rather than in audit.
LuchiMangsho · 19/01/2018 17:43
My husband (medic scientist) quit to go into industry. He has no regrets. And has published in Nature and NEJM since moving to industry. It’s a LOT of work and stress but the financial compensation is also good.
MadScientist10 · 20/01/2018 21:44
Thanks for the insight. I am just sort of tired with the long days and (mostly) thankless task of bench science. Some parts I really enjoyed and teaching students etc would always mix thing up a bit. I have a couple of close friends that work in audit and it seems lower pressure than other City careers but most likely not for someone who wants to be part time while still at the very beginning!!
You have guys have given me lots to think about! All I have to do now is think of a business idea and I’m all set ;)
murmuration · 22/01/2018 11:32
Right before your post asking about publishing, I was thinking that my friends that left science and appear happiest went into publishing. They've had varied paths, but two started as editors in pop-sci type magazines. One moved into being editor at one of those Nature/Science type places. I must say I have no clue what one needs regarding background nor how much work it is, but they do seem happy on Facebook... Regarding post above, I believe they all got FT jobs in publishing, not freelancing - I do know one freelance editor (not science) and she has several other jobs simulataneously to make ends meet. I imagine that's much more difficult as income would be varied.
Toyrd · 22/01/2018 14:25
Today, I'm really tempted to join you on the job hunt - it's been nearly three solid weeks of admin, changing settings on Blackboard ad nauseam, sending Word forms back, utterly pointless internal REF review etc. No writing or progressing of papers at all. I'm bored and demoralised (yes, I know work is work, but does it have to be so trivial and time-consuming?).
Stroller15 · 22/01/2018 14:34
I feel the same today, not sure whether I should retrain or seriously start applying for fellowships - I don't feel I'm ambitious/competitive enough though, my priorities changed massively after baby. If you find a good option let me know please OP!
coffeemonster28 · 23/01/2018 09:06
I went from a PhD in sociology (focusing on social movements) to IT project manager so definitely can be done!
To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.