Protocol Online logo
Top : New Forum Archives (2009-): : Career Advice

What else except for research? - (Sep/11/2012 )

Pages: 1 2 3 Next

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.

-Nephrite-

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).

-mdfenko-

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

-csadangi-

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.

-metionina-

Nephrite on Tue Sep 11 14:17:38 2012 said:



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.

-casandra-

casandra on Wed Sep 12 03:50:37 2012 said:


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




Casandra, you made my day

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 , 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.

-Curtis-

Curtis on Fri Sep 14 03:31:07 2012 said:


casandra on Wed Sep 12 03:50:37 2012 said:


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




Casandra, you made my day


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




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 , 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 (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 . Of course, you’d have many advantages but the question is- how much of the trade-off are you willing to take?

-casandra-

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

-Curtis-

Curtis on Sat Sep 15 02:22:13 2012 said:


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) ?

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 ...(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?

-casandra-

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 :-)

-Nephrite-
Pages: 1 2 3 Next