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What else except for research?


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#1 Nephrite

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 06:17 AM

Hello.

I wonder if anybody can help me with an advise because I really need it.....

My case - I finished MS in Molecular biology, I lost 3-4 years in my home Institution (by this time the local politic was still very supressive toward the young generations), then I used the first opportunity to leave my country, I established a colaboration with one professor abroad, after some time I started PhD and 4 years later I defended.

In between, my professor offered me 1 year postdoc in his University, which I accepted and I worked in several different topics.

Now I just returned to my country.

To my big unfortune all these years I was completely alone professionally - I was learning alone, I was building research hypotheses alone, I was working alone, I was interpreting results alone, I was writing papers alone, I was fighting with oponents alone, etc.
I mean, it happened that I didn`t work in a group, so all ideas of my professor were completely new for both of us and I was the only one to develop them.

In result, I feel extremly tired of research.
Exhausted.
Empty.
So many nights, so many years thinking only if the hypothesis is correct, how to prove it, how to build the philosophy of the work, how to perform the experiments, how to explain the results, how to motivate the work - I can`t anymore......
In addition, life in other country was sad, I was the only one foreigner in the Institution.
In addition, I feel a bit useless for the society because of the abstract nature of my work.

So, two weeks ago, before I left my professor announced me as one of the very best pupils he has ever had - this should mean that I can provide something useful.
I can deal relatively well with few techniques (immunohistochemistry, WB, PCR and related) and I have some competences.
We (the professor and I) managed to make some papers and if we are lucky we will publish three more works.
But that`s all.
I feel like an educated and qualified but useless member of the society.

Can anybody give me some clues what else I can work? How to be more useful for the society, for myself and for my future family? Is there anything routine and practical that people like me can work? For sure I don`t want to continue with research (to be honest, if this is the only one option in front of me, then I prefer to clean houses) but probably there should be something else that I can do?

Any advise would be highly appreciated.

#2 mdfenko

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 06:24 AM

you sound burnt out.

you can take up teaching at the secondary level or at the university level (until the research bug bites you again).
talent does what it can
genius does what it must
i do what i get paid to do

#3 Mad researcher

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 06:28 AM

you can try for another post-doc position elsewhere or join an industry as a post doc
Cheers,

Mad Researcher

#4 metionina

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:41 AM

what about other aspects of a biotech/pharma company? Sale, patents, technical support, consultancy, recruitment...?
Companies often search for PhD educated people for these positions.
I met several people who after a PhD or a post-doc left academia and research for a different job in the life science field.

#5 casandra

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 07:50 PM

To my big unfortune all these years I was completely alone professionally - I was learning alone, I was building research hypotheses alone, I was working alone, I was interpreting results alone, I was writing papers alone, I was fighting with oponents alone, etc.
I mean, it happened that I didn`t work in a group, so all ideas of my professor were completely new for both of us and I was the only one to develop them.


Hi Nephrite,

I look at this differently...you shld be extremely proud of what you've accomplished all by yourself (of course with the help of your professor), despite all the challenges you encountered. And now that you've returned to your country, you should be able to find inspiration in the people that you care about, in the places that you love, in the things that you missed when you were out so this should actually motivate you more. You shldn't cop out otherwise, everything that you've endured would be for nothing. You've got a PhD you worked so hard to get. You lived in a foreign country and survived ;)(how many in your country had this opportunity?)

You're feeling down and very tired now so you're allowed to take a well-deserved rest but once you have regrouped you'd realise that you will never allow yourself to become a useless member of society. Hopefully these feelings of depression and lack of motivation are only temporary but if they persist perhaps you shld also consider consulting a mental health professional.

If you really don't want to do research anymore, as the others have suggested, there are other career directions that you can take. But is the level of research in your home country comparable to the one you left behind? Perhaps there would only be simpler hypotheses to prove, cheaper techniques to employ etc. And are there many PhD degree holders as yourself? If not,then you definitely have an advantage so don't sell yourself short (and cleaning houses shldn't be an option cos you would probably suck at it :P). Be strong and good luck.
"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#6 Curtis

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 07:31 PM

Hi Nephrite, you shld also consider consulting a mental health professional.



Casandra, you made my day Posted Image

Nephrite I understand you totally. I am finishing the first year of my postdoc in a couple of months, and after that I don't know what's gonna happen. I feel lost. I work in a foreign country too, and I can't go back to my own country either because I have been away for nearly 10 years and I don't know anything about the industry or acadmic culture in there. I am not attached to any organization and if I go back I will have to be unemployed for some time until I evaluate my foreign degrees and find a junior lecturer position. It's a shame really.

I think everybody wants to be useful in the society somehow. In our field of science maybe being useful means publish article in high impact factor journals and get a lot of citation. But I didn't have any article until few years ago, so I kept asking myself what if I get hit by a car tomorrow and my life ends with no outcome? I told myself if I don't have articles, then maybe there is another way to be useful...and I found it....I joined Bioforum...first I joined to find my own answers, but later I started answering other people's scientific questions. I started with small questions, questions that I knew the answers for, and left the difficult ones to the moderators or veterans. Towards the end of my PhD I became more and more addicted to this, and I could answer more questions related to the methods and protocols that I use in the lab everyday. I have been here for many years now. If not every day, I have visited this forum every week. I joined when there was no 'like' button Posted Image, and now I am a moedrator myself. I do this voluntarily. We don't earn anything, but it satisfies me enough. My wife used to get mad at me why I spend too much time here, for something that I don't get salary for, but now she understand my passion and doesn't argue anymore. Who knows, maybe one of the people who I helped becomes the greatest scientist of all time. Maybe he won't remember me, or I won't remember him, but I helped him in his way to success. and that counts.

I don't want to sound philosophical, but I always remember what Isaac Newton said that 'If I can see further, it's because I am standing on the shoulder of giants'. He was right, and everything counts. If there is a God (that I am not sure) he sees everything, and the universe will take record of what we do....That's how I see it.

#7 casandra

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:01 AM


Hi Nephrite, you shld also consider consulting a mental health professional.



Casandra, you made my day Posted Image

well, we can do all the psycho-analysing and psycho-babbling to death here but if it's really a mental health issue then we shld let the professionals do their job Posted Image



Nephrite I understand you totally. I am finishing the first year of my postdoc in a couple of months, and after that I don't know what's gonna happen. I feel lost. I work in a foreign country too, and I can't go back to my own country either because I have been away for nearly 10 years and I don't know anything about the industry or acadmic culture in there. I am not attached to any organization and if I go back I will have to be unemployed for some time until I evaluate my foreign degrees and find a junior lecturer position. It's a shame really.

I think everybody wants to be useful in the society somehow. In our field of science maybe being useful means publish article in high impact factor journals and get a lot of citation. But I didn't have any article until few years ago, so I kept asking myself what if I get hit by a car tomorrow and my life ends with no outcome? I told myself if I don't have articles, then maybe there is another way to be useful...and I found it....I joined Bioforum...first I joined to find my own answers, but later I started answering other people's scientific questions. I started with small questions, questions that I knew the answers for, and left the difficult ones to the moderators or veterans. Towards the end of my PhD I became more and more addicted to this, and I could answer more questions related to the methods and protocols that I use in the lab everyday. I have been here for many years now. If not every day, I have visited this forum every week. I joined when there was no 'like' button Posted Image, and now I am a moedrator myself. I do this voluntarily. We don't earn anything, but it satisfies me enough. My wife used to get mad at me why I spend too much time here, for something that I don't get salary for, but now she understand my passion and doesn't argue anymore. Who knows, maybe one of the people who I helped becomes the greatest scientist of all time. Maybe he won't remember me, or I won't remember him, but I helped him in his way to success. and that counts.

I don't want to sound philosophical, but I always remember what Isaac Newton said that 'If I can see further, it's because I am standing on the shoulder of giants'. He was right, and everything counts. If there is a God (that I am not sure) he sees everything, and the universe will take record of what we do....That's how I see it.


it's good that you found an outlet, Curtis although it's a bit of a stretch that you only found yourself "useful" when you became an active member and now a moderator in this forum Posted Image (btw, you're actually doing a pretty good job here). But what still strikes me is why people who have done their grad studies abroad are very reluctant or really dread going back to their home countries to become 'useful' citizens back home (ok, I can understand those from wartorn countries or oppressive regimes or dictatorships). Sometimes they would do just about anything not to go back. Wouldn't it be easier to re-establish roots in the country where you were born, where you have your family, and you know the people and you have connections. You said, you've been out for 10 years but you've lived most of your life there. There would probably be a steep learning curve of course, but if you survived living and studying in a foreign country, it shldn’t be an impossble feat to live and work again in your own country.

And wouldn't that also be better than establishing roots, then uprooting again and again while trying to find positions esp here in the west bec permanent positions are almost a thing of the past now. If there were any, foreign grads/nationals would not be a priority esp if you're gonna compete with the 'natives' (it's a harsh reality, unfortunately) and besides, finding good jobs always means having the right connections and it’s not based on merits alone.The bottomline too (esp after the recession and the closures of many biotech and pharma companies) is that there is an overproduction or abundance of PhD grads and therefore too many applicants for the few jobs offered. And I even know people who applied for lesser positions eg research assistant and they get rejected bec they are “over-qualified”

Lastly, wouldn't you prefer to be the giant that the students from your own country would be standing upon and gazing from? There shld really be a stop to this brain drain. China has already started a program enticing those who trained abroad to go back and I already know some who did and were quite happy with their decision. Once back, you’d be highly qualified therefore more competitive and with a more cosmopolitan worldview plus you’d be injecting new blood into the system so to speak. In the west, you’d just be another wandering scientist, second or third class citizen or the eternal student..take your pick Posted Image. Of course, you’d have many advantages but the question is- how much of the trade-off are you willing to take?

Edited by casandra, 14 September 2012 - 06:34 AM.

"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#8 Curtis

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:22 PM

Casandra, you have no idea...it's easy to comment and question it from your position, but you don't know what it's like unless you come from one

#9 casandra

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 08:09 PM

Casandra, you have no idea...it's easy to comment and question it from your position, but you don't know what it's like until you come from one

nope, I don't come from a 'third world' country so you are right...but you're also not coming from a country where you don't know where your next meal is coming from or what clean drinking water is or where kids have to walk 2 hours to school and when it rains, there are even no roads to walk on... I have encountered misery, hopelessness and desperation (here and abroad so I have a fairly good idea) and I really wonder howcome a few have so much and so many have so little....life is unfair, yeah right....

But back to the foreign scientists diaspora, a big part of the cause is our gov'ts immigration policy of 'accepting only highly qualified and skilled workers' so it's easier to apply for permanent residencies or work visas..we say 'we have opportunities and you are welcome' ...we are an immigrant-based society and still is open for immigration and we're the poster country for multiculturalism....we favour diversity over assimilation and so most students and scientists who come here oftenly stay on working and living here and this is beneficial for us..it's our brain gain..but at the expense of other countries'.

I am not saying you shldn't come here or that you shldn't stay (if you're already here) bec if you can, then you shld if that's what you really want. But what if it's not possible and you have no other choice but to go back to your country (or stay there if you can't go out)? Then perhaps a change in attitude and goals is in order? I hear a lot of whining from some people I meet here- 'our gov't is corrupt, there is only chaos, people are lazy or inefficient, the streets are dirty etc etc' but who's gonna make it better...who shld care most about what happens to a country......not the international community (unless there's civil war or famine- but sometimes not even in these circumstances) Posted Image ?

I'm sorry if I came off as being judgmental and for what you think as my harsh comments and questions..I was just trying to give you a different perspective esp now that you don't know what you're gonna do next with regards to your career and the high possibility of you not going abroad for a postdoc...it was actually a motivational piece to challenge you and encourage you to be Newton's gigantum blablabla Posted Image...(I tell this to myself whenever I think of 8 months of cold and ice) take it easy dude...btw..haven't I already told you that you're doing a great job as a mod? I did eh?

Edited by casandra, 14 September 2012 - 08:24 PM.

"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#10 Nephrite

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 11:58 PM

Hello.
I would like to thank everybody for expressing his/her sympathy to my case. Special thanks for the practical clues too.
Well, teaching sounds great but in my country for 4th-5th year the only one University that provides study of Natural sciences has plenty of unoccupied positions for students - nobody wants to study life sciences, chemistry or physics because they are difficult and have no realisation here. Plus, all teaching positions are occupied until the rest of the eternity.
Research.....ah, the life here is as expensive as in the rest of EU (for some things like energy we pay much more) but salaries....I would be lucky if I get 250 Eu per month. And the system for grants is still very corrupted. And the whole society here is against people like me - here only the practical jobs are respected. This is why I wrote my topic....and I think I got some clues :-)
Finally, I am 35 years old and it is absolutely neccessary to give a birth as soon as possible.
In the name of God, I have been working all my life for this!
You see - it is not a matter of psychological depressia but of a real problem......that I hope to resolve somehow :-)
One more time thank all of you :-)

#11 casandra

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 11:00 AM

But what happened to the astronaut post (among other things?) :P cos I kinda agree that one has to know their limits (to avoid feeling big time frustration) and that it is always possible to work around such limitations....and even if life is hard or expensive (where isn't it not?), how many still try to survive even with having less than what the returning scientists have? It's good that you got some clues here and that you're determined to resolve your problems. Good luck then...
"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#12 ascacioc

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 01:34 PM

To add to Casandra's comments above: kudos for doing most of the stuff on your own. On top you have several publications. Double-kudos. This means you are good. And you became even better because you survived. I know of others in your situation who didn't survive and they were lost. In my opinion, you should take a long walk and relax and think what you really-really want to do. Not what society expects you to do. what your parents/partner expect you to do. what do you want to do? I believe that you would make it in research, if you decide that actually, the reason you started a PhD in the first place was the love for research. But, if you want to have money or a family with whom you have a normal relationship based on seeing them for dinner every night, then go to industry/consulting etc. etc. Teaching... hmm does not bring you money, not research satisfaction...maybe the warm feeling inside from molding the future generation, really, most of them don't want to be molded anyhow :P But this is just me. In the end of the day, a PhD is a confirmation of the mind/spirit (smth they keep on telling us over and over in my university city in all the speeches) My bottom line is: a PhD title is like a title that you are an extremely educated/intelligent person. You can do whatever you want, from writing articles in the science section of your daily newspaper or consulting for patent lawyers or human resources in a company that has an R&D department based on life sciences/chemistry. You are basically an expert on nothing and everything.

With going back to your own country, reply at Casandra: many countries, like China, might have these programs to support the people to come back home and do research, but as far as I have heard for both China and my home country, Romania, they are a joke. They just sound good on paper but they crumble after the first wind of reality. I know of people going back to China for a professorship and doing only lecturing and not having a proper lab until they gave up and gone back to UK for a postdoc. aka from professor to postdoc. And about Romania, among my network of friends that studied abroad and consider going back, the rumor has it that it is still not the time: many have gotten tricked in going back and not they regret it. So: it might sound nice in principle, but in practice, it does not work. And anyhow, I am now in Germany for long enough time to actually apply for the citizenship and stay here forever and ever. And I will just do so, because as you have said: they make it easy for us to get work permits and residence permits. I got both of them with no problem: fill in a form and both of them are without end.

#13 casandra

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 08:05 PM

With going back to your own country, reply at Casandra: many countries, like China, might have these programs to support the people to come back home and do research, but as far as I have heard for both China and my home country, Romania, they are a joke. They just sound good on paper but they crumble after the first wind of reality. I know of people going back to China for a professorship and doing only lecturing and not having a proper lab until they gave up and gone back to UK for a postdoc. aka from professor to postdoc. And about Romania, among my network of friends that studied abroad and consider going back, the rumor has it that it is still not the time: many have gotten tricked in going back and not they regret it. So: it might sound nice in principle, but in practice, it does not work. And anyhow, I am now in Germany for long enough time to actually apply for the citizenship and stay here forever and ever. And I will just do so, because as you have said: they make it easy for us to get work permits and residence permits. I got both of them with no problem: fill in a form and both of them are without end.

Well, it will never be the same- the standard of living, the opportunities and more importantly the level of research that returning scientists will be going back to in their home countries but at least it's a start even if it looks good on paper only (I personally know some Chinese researchers and medical doctors who returned and are quite happy enough so it's not exactly a joke...one of their main concerns though is the pollution but there's enough work for them to do and it's a struggle most of the time)...but it shld get better eventually (if more highly qualified people come back, with more gov't funding or international collaborations etc) otherwise, we should just all be resigned to the fact that the centers of science (research) and technology would only stay in the west and in developed economies and that there is no more hope for the others knowing that nobody is willing to take a risk or sacrifice enough to make things work or who'd care enough to put a stop to the brain drain. But like I said, if that's the way cookie crumbles (or how the gel runs), then it's fine with us cos it's our gain Posted Image

Edited by casandra, 19 September 2012 - 08:07 PM.

"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#14 Curtis

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:51 PM

I applied for 3 academic jobs in my country just yesterday. Wish me luck....Most probably it will be turned down, but let's just hope they approve me....

#15 ascacioc

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 10:16 PM

So that's where you were :) Best of luck. Keeping my fingers crossed... and if they don't take you: Europe is always looking for good scientists :D Malaysia's loss is our win :P




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