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(Science Magazine)   Science grad schools: "We don't want your kind around here, Mr. I-have-hobbies-and-a-life"   (sciencecareers.sciencemag.org) divider line 139
    More: Sad, graduate schools, ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biology, mendelian, Changing the Game, Case Western Reserve University, postdocs, beakers  
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6821 clicks; posted to Geek » on 26 Dec 2012 at 4:34 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-26 05:45:50 PM  

aerojockey: Mikey1969: So , in other words, you didn't read TFA?

I did.  I think he's (mostly) full of shiat.


Well, you obviously missed the part where his outside life was specifically frowned upon by the Grad School:
One day, my adviser called me into his office. The campus newspaper had just published a little profile of the stand-up-comedy-performing grad student, and my adviser happened to read it. Over the next 10 minutes, I learned that my hobby was an embarrassment to the department, that there was no way I could properly focus on biology, and that every negative lab result I ever produced was a direct result of telling jokes at night.

Maybe you're right though, he just jumped to conclusions based on some questions , and the part related above was just due to him hallucinating when sitting in the advisor's office.
 
2012-12-26 05:51:48 PM  
Universities want people suffering from Asperger's Syndrome to be their graduate students so they get more grant money? That is a shocker!
 
2012-12-26 06:06:25 PM  
It's not just science grad schools. Just let slip to your adviser on your Medieval History doctorate that your hobby is cloning around with recombinant DNA in homogeneous white mouse testes and see what kind of look that gets you.
 
2012-12-26 06:09:01 PM  

Z-clipped: As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.


Physics grad school, while caring for a newborn/toddler? Good luck and godspeed.
 
2012-12-26 06:11:33 PM  
I get this. I think the best approach is to get your well-rounded business taken care of as a liberal arts undergrad (in the sciences), then put them on hold for ~6 years of grad school, maybe 2 years of post-doc, then 6 years until you get tenure. Then you can pick them up again. My family and my circle of friends are mostly filled with people who had to go that route.

For more information, see David Wong's "Six Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person."

http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better- p erson/
 
2012-12-26 06:13:47 PM  
Grad school sucks. I quit a phd program after 3 years because I saw what everyone who got a phd became. I call it "Ph.D Syndrome" -- the incessant need to be right, the inability or unwillingness to accept others' ideas, the intellectual arrogance. I am related to several PhDs and work with more, and it's pretty much consistent across the board.
 
2012-12-26 06:24:37 PM  

chopit: Grad school sucks. I quit a phd program after 3 years because I saw what everyone who got a phd became. I call it "Ph.D Syndrome" -- the incessant need to be right, the inability or unwillingness to accept others' ideas, the intellectual arrogance. I am related to several PhDs and work with more, and it's pretty much consistent across the board.


The most honest PIs I knew were usually the poorest. The most well-funded PI I've worked for was a literal egomaniacal sociopath. He lied whenever possible (including about the project I would be working on if I went to work for him). The runner up was a PI who was allowed to retire because he had fabricated data for grants (allowed to retire so the university wouldn't be on the hook for the overhead costs, I assume). He ended up getting a tenure-track position at another university a couple months later.
 
2012-12-26 06:26:30 PM  

Guntram Shatterhand: Sure, you can create people who work like machines at only one thing in life, but I wouldn't want to see them when that one thing stops being profitable and they have to do something else.


Quasi-recent thread where a FARKer described ex-coworkers who trained in one obscure programming language, spent their entire career doing nothing but working within that narrow specialty, ignored their company's announcements that they were moving on and that there was free training available for other, more contemporary skills...

..and then biatched that "the company had it in for them" when they were inevitably let go because they had no skills that were useful to the company.
 
2012-12-26 06:31:40 PM  
I see the feynam quota has been filled.

I'll return to being a real estate appraiser with a 6 figure income and a ruff 20+ hour work week.

While reading books on physics in my spare time.


My one claim to fame might be the way I did the allocation and income method on a large condo.

No one in my area had ever done it that way and all the appraisal institute big Whigs loved it.

/can't remember what I did
//not educated well enough to explain in technical terms
///don't care & just happy with the golden ruler I was presented with
 
2012-12-26 06:35:47 PM  
like time academics are a joke.
 
2012-12-26 06:38:24 PM  

Christian Bale: FormlessOne: Doesn't just apply to the classical sciences, either. Despite all their gum-flapping to the contrary, it's amazing how software developers are encouraged to monomaniacal focus.

If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.


Are you kidding? Most places are dying to hire women to even out the absurd gender gap at their workplace. Certainly in the public sector IT jobs, if you're a woman, you're in.


Sure, in IT. Development is not IT. Quota hiring is lovely - we get lots of female project managers, directors, and so on - but unfortunately, software development is still very much a sausage fest, regardless of lip service to the contrary. At best, you might see the occasional single, childless, female developer (we have one on my team), but by and large, it's still an area heavily biased towards males - and, make no mistake, a single, childless, female developer is still a better catch than a married male developer with children, horribly enough, because you can still depend on her to work overtime for free, just like the other unmarried, childless guys on the team.
 
2012-12-26 06:38:46 PM  

Gough: I get this. I think the best approach is to get your well-rounded business taken care of as a liberal arts undergrad (in the sciences), then put them on hold for ~6 years of grad school, maybe 2 years of post-doc, then 6 years until you get tenure. Then you can pick them up again. My family and my circle of friends are mostly filled with people who had to go that route.

For more information, see David Wong's "Six Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person."

http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-assumptions-by-sociopathic-doucehbags-w h ich-make-life-h ell-for-people-who-work-for-them


Fixed your link.
 
2012-12-26 06:44:21 PM  
The evolutionary biology professor who is also the singer of a punk band has to be Greg Graffin (the founder and lead of Bad Religion). Left out of the story is that it actually did him about ten years to get his PhD due to touring.

/I dropped out of grad school after a year
//Soooo glad I did.
 
2012-12-26 06:45:18 PM  

sariq: FormlessOne: If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.

Not my experience (at least in the west - US, UK and FR anyway - the team I managed in Vietnam had a different culture), neither as hirer nor hiree.    Outside interests (and not just hobby projects on github...) are encouraged.


Sure, and I've emails in my Inbox to that effect. However, when the death march kicks in, it's the guy who can't work overtime because he has other commitments that gets hosed on his performance review. it's the guy who skirts the limits of flex time because he has kids and a working wife that gets "a chat" from his manager or, worse yet, gets flex time canceled for his entire team because "it's being abused."

You can be "encouraged" all day, but it's the rare employer that provides time and allowances for such things any more. You're to do those things on "your time," except "your time" grows smaller and smaller as your employer demands more of it as "their time." Eventually, you don't have "your time."

Here's a case in point - my manager was forced to take three weeks off, just two months before we close down for RTM, all at once. Why? Because, for the last two years, he wasn't allowed to take a single vacation day - he manages teams in four different geographic locations - and his vacation days are the "use them or lose them" type. His manager didn't want to look bad by denying vacation for a second year in a row, so my manager was forced to schedule all of this time off in one big block, at the end of the year, during the busiest time in our product lifecycle. The worst part? He was grateful he was allowed to take all three weeks. He was expecting to lose it again this year.
 
2012-12-26 06:50:32 PM  
Sigh. Generalizing from a few anecdotes.

Look, Ph.D. advisors in the biosciences want to make sure that you are WORKING YOUR ASS OFF because they want results. Some may actually care about your educational process and experience as well. Mine did, luckily, although I'm no longer a lab scientist.

The issues are
(a) How much time they think any old grad student should be devoting to their personal life, and
(b) How much time they think you, the applicant, are devoting to your personal life.

There are preconceptions regarding both. Different people reading your application may think either
- "Well, he can probably still put in a 60+ hour work week, I'm sure he'll confine his interests to a reasonable chunk of time."
- "Uh-oh, demonstrating a demanding outside interest, no way he can put in a 60+ hour work week."

Probably all a function of the advisor's preconceptions, whether she or he believes that number should be more than 60+ hours, and whether the application or interview conveys a sense that the hobby will remain just that, a hobby.

BTW, good lab science does equal a 60+ hour work week. Assuming mentoring and lab equipment are not limiting reagents, you need hard work + intelligence + luck.

Creativity helps, but is tough to separate from the intelligence.

And the harder you work the luckier you get.
 
2012-12-26 06:56:00 PM  

FormlessOne: sariq: FormlessOne: If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.

Not my experience (at least in the west - US, UK and FR anyway - the team I managed in Vietnam had a different culture), neither as hirer nor hiree.    Outside interests (and not just hobby projects on github...) are encouraged.

Sure, and I've emails in my Inbox to that effect. However, when the death march kicks in, it's the guy who can't work overtime because he has other commitments that gets hosed on his performance review. it's the guy who skirts the limits of flex time because he has kids and a working wife that gets "a chat" from his manager or, worse yet, gets flex time canceled for his entire team because "it's being abused.


I have to disagree with you. My husband is a software engineer, and in addition to using all his vacation every year, he's even taken sick time to take me or our kid to the doctor in the past in accordance with his company's sick time policies. Nobody cares, and his reviews are great because he gets done what he's supposed to get done. His unmarried coworkers take fun vacations to exotic locales every year that I get to hear about third hand. Everybody's "slacking" equally, but the company really is dedicated to not having workers burn out.
 
2012-12-26 06:56:04 PM  
As someone applying to jobs and grad school for molecular bio simultaneously, this article makes me happier about my decision to also apply for jobs and consider saying fark grad school.
 
2012-12-26 06:59:26 PM  

FormlessOne: Sure, in IT. Development is not IT. Quota hiring is lovely - we get lots of female project managers, directors, and so on - but unfortunately, software development is still very much a sausage fest, regardless of lip service to the contrary. At best, you might see the occasional single, childless, female developer (we have one on my team), but by and large, it's still an area heavily biased towards males - and, make no mistake, a single, childless, female developer is still a better catch than a married male developer with children, horribly enough, because you can still depend on her to work overtime for free, just like the other unmarried, childless guys on the team.


I work in a development department with a husband and wife.
 
2012-12-26 07:01:31 PM  

FormlessOne: sariq: FormlessOne: If you want to be a software developer, ensure that you are unmarried, male, and without children - no need for those pesky distractions. You will be hired over married, female, or child-burdened developers, all other things being equal.

Not my experience (at least in the west - US, UK and FR anyway - the team I managed in Vietnam had a different culture), neither as hirer nor hiree.    Outside interests (and not just hobby projects on github...) are encouraged.

Sure, and I've emails in my Inbox to that effect. However, when the death march kicks in, it's the guy who can't work overtime because he has other commitments that gets hosed on his performance review. it's the guy who skirts the limits of flex time because he has kids and a working wife that gets "a chat" from his manager or, worse yet, gets flex time canceled for his entire team because "it's being abused."

You can be "encouraged" all day, but it's the rare employer that provides time and allowances for such things any more. You're to do those things on "your time," except "your time" grows smaller and smaller as your employer demands more of it as "their time." Eventually, you don't have "your time."

Here's a case in point - my manager was forced to take three weeks off, just two months before we close down for RTM, all at once. Why? Because, for the last two years, he wasn't allowed to take a single vacation day - he manages teams in four different geographic locations - and his vacation days are the "use them or lose them" type. His manager didn't want to look bad by denying vacation for a second year in a row, so my manager was forced to schedule all of this time off in one big block, at the end of the year, during the busiest time in our product lifecycle. The worst part? He was grateful he was allowed to take all three weeks. He was expecting to lose it again this year.


I hope you're looking for new opportunities.  Any sane software development shop has realized this type of insanity is detrimental to boh productivity and quality.  Unless you're in game development - that shiat sucks ass.
 
2012-12-26 07:02:10 PM  

born_yesterday: No Such Agency: SnakeLee: Millennium: There's a certain myth of a "pure" scientist out there: someone for whom the pursuit of scientific knowledge, not necessarily to do anything with it but simply to know, is life's highest and ultimate calling, to be pursued with quasi-monastic zeal. This myth is what institutions like the ones mentioned in TFA are pursuing.

I know people like that, but they are rare.  They also have lots of grant money, but I don't know why anyone would live that way by their own choosing.

.. and they're frequently raging, raging ASSHOLES, because things like "I can't do that experiment tomorrow, my mother is dying" are not considered valid excuses from their students. Oddly enough they're usually smart enough to be nice to people with more power than them. Their labs have all the esprit de corps of a North Koreean gulag, but they do tend to publish regularly in high-impact journals.

My problem with academia is that they pretend they're not a business like any other. They pretend they're still some "ivory tower of intellectualism" and discovery, while they ignore the realities of their business model, and shirk their responsibilities to properly train their students.

I have no problems with the rules of science as a business--publish often, publish well, and publish first. There are no prizes for second place. That is how the world works. But universities have been very reluctant--almost embarrassed--to openly address the reality that the pipeline of tenure-track careers is an utterly broken system. I think this results in a pool of graduate students, soon to be postdocs, that are woefully ill-equipped and poorly trained for the skill sets they need to be successful in the job market. For them to act as if the system works in any way like it did 20-30 years ago is totally irresponsible.

Scientists today need a great deal more practice writing grants--entire courses devoted to it--if they intend to make it at the bench. And since les ...


Gods, you are so right. Let me add to this: go to the wrong school, have the wrong advisor, get a job at the wrong place... you're fried. Done. Third tier, grade Z. It's absolutely pathetic. I've known a few people who know their shiat but are shafted because of pedigree. Yes, myself included. It's extraordinarily depressing (yes, actual, real depression) to know that no matter what you do, no matter how good your stuff is, you will never get a job anywhere decent because you went to the wrong grad school and your first job was at the wrong location.

fark this profession. It's a joke.
 
2012-12-26 07:02:18 PM  
By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.
 
2012-12-26 07:08:33 PM  
I didn't realize that this was meant to be a documentary:

images1.wikia.nocookie.net
 
2012-12-26 07:09:36 PM  
It's been said here already, but it used to be that to be considered a "Man of Science" you HAD to be well rounded. This usually took the form of fooling around ("experimenting") with whatever the latest fad was, but regardless, those folks got results.

For example: In the years immediately preceding the 19th century, all respectable scientific minds were "experimenting" with unmanned hot air balloons. One young man, a medical doctor who had gained entrance to the Royal Society for a treatise on the common cuckoo, managed to land his balloon and start a small fire in a garden belonging to the father of the hottest girl in town, and in retrieving his balloon, finagled an introduction to the girl, eventually marrying her. As a doctor he greatly advanced medical understanding of angina pectoris, and also brought vaccination against smallpox into widespread use. This was, of course, Edward Jenner, and his work in vaccination has been opposed and vilified by Jenny McCarthy types ever since.
 
2012-12-26 07:10:48 PM  

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


Unless you are going to do research you don't need a Ph.D. to make decent money. Get your undergrad in Biology and then get an MBA. You can end up running biotech companies.
 
2012-12-26 07:20:26 PM  

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


As someone who is still looking for my first job since getting my PhD in physics a year ago, I say go into industry. I'm pretty sure I'd be much better off right now with six years of real work experience instead of a degree in a ridiculously narrow topic.

If you do go into grad school, have a plan. Find a project/advisor worth working with that actually has a future beyond your degree. And do your research on the advisor's history with grad students.

During my grad school time, my lab had four or five students give up and leave, and only one graduate during my entire time there. I didn't finish with the help of my advisor. I finished in spite of her.
 
2012-12-26 07:23:10 PM  

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


It really depends on what you are looking for. A B.S. can definitely get you a job in industry, but you will most likely be working under and taking orders from someone with a Ph.D. and spend each day doing stuff a monkey could do with two weeks training. In other words, you will be punching WAY below your weight intellectually, especially if you did any sort of undergrad research.

That said, a lot of companies, at least in the chem industry, will look for people intending to go to grad school at some future point, and will often have subsidization programs to help you succeed in that path, providing you continue to work for them afterwards.

So look around. Real world experience can be nice.
 
2012-12-26 07:24:28 PM  

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


If you want to work in Biotech and want to be at peak employability in terms of the number of positions you will neither be under- or overqualified for, get a Master's degree and stop there. With a bachelors you won't be qualified for most jobs that have progression potential. With a PhD there will be fewer jobs available at that level.
 
2012-12-26 07:26:43 PM  

SN1987a goes boom: Scientists with outside interests are often regarded with suspicion in the lab

What kind of psycho, paranoid lab do these people work for?


profile.ak.fbcdn.net
 
2012-12-26 07:29:19 PM  

scumbucket: It's been said here already, but it used to be that to be considered a "Man of Science" you HAD to be well rounded. This usually took the form of fooling around ("experimenting") with whatever the latest fad was, but regardless, those folks got results.

For example: In the years immediately preceding the 19th century, all respectable scientific minds were "experimenting" with unmanned hot air balloons. One young man, a medical doctor who had gained entrance to the Royal Society for a treatise on the common cuckoo, managed to land his balloon and start a small fire in a garden belonging to the father of the hottest girl in town, and in retrieving his balloon, finagled an introduction to the girl, eventually marrying her. As a doctor he greatly advanced medical understanding of angina pectoris, and also brought vaccination against smallpox into widespread use. This was, of course, Edward Jenner, and his work in vaccination has been opposed and vilified by Jenny McCarthy types ever since.


I think scientists should still be reasonably well-rounded, and most I know are. My supervisor loved to travel, loves music, good food, good wine, good booze, etc. He had plenty of interests outside of work and would be worried about trainees who spent too much time at the lab. His supervisor has a huge interest in art, photography, and philosophy of science and talked regularly with us about all three if you cared to. Many profs who were on my committee, in my department, or worked in the same group of labs had plenty of outside interests that they did. SCA, woodworking, sports, hiking, camping, etc.

Of course on the intellectual pursuit side it is far more difficult to be THAT knowledgeable today on a broad array of subjects. We know so much more, in so much more detail, it is very difficult to be a polymath to any sort of depth. There are a rare few but overall I think we should be encouraged to be as well-read and learned as possible. I consider my scientific interests and pursuits fairly broad.
 
2012-12-26 07:32:08 PM  

GAT_00: I knew this person couldn't have spent a day in grad school before I started reading.


I guess you don't have to go to grad school for a PhD anymore
 
2012-12-26 07:49:52 PM  

nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.


Some things to consider:

1. How much control do you need to have over projects to be happy? Going into industry with a BS will likely mean having to work your way up over several years. If you're doing bench work, you're likely to spend months doing repetitive, maybe boring tasks. In this case, my advice would be to be patient, and show initiative, and learn as many things you can put on your resume as you can. This could help you at that employer, and give you more control over your next position.

2. Johns Hopkins offers a Masters in Biotechnology. Maybe not the best example, because it's expensive as hell, but they seem to have gotten some things right. Namely, that some people want a degree focused towards industry. You may want to see what's available in your area. Even better, if you find a job at a solid company with your BS, you might want to look into whether they'll pay for a degree like this.

3. In biotech, I think a doctorate will price you out of the market. Had I realized this, I just might have quit my program early for a Masters. Once you get your PhD, the assumption is that you will want to run your own lab, so you'll have a very tough time applying for technician positions. There is a glut of postdocs right now, and very very few positions for them to advance into. I realize it's only an anecdote, but I have a friend from grad school that applied for a technician position, and was competing with people ranging from BS degrees to former principle investigators. That's ridiculous. (And he studies MRSA for God's sake--and he can't find work?). If the job market looked like it would get better, I might recommend the PhD and working through a postdoc or two...but that was my plan, and things haven't turned around yet.

4. If there are specific companies you are interested in, do research into them, and find out as much as you can about what they're looking for. If you are lucky, they may have someone you can contact for advice. If your school has career services, use them as much as you can to find receptive contacts, information about prospective employers, etc.

5. Take whatever opportunities you can to get lab experience while you are an undergrad. This cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to enter the workforce right after school. You'll be able to show an employer you can do something they expect you to do, and you can probably get a great recommendation from someone that knows you personally from the work you do.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck.
 
2012-12-26 07:54:18 PM  
 
2012-12-26 07:55:11 PM  
JolobinSmokin: "big Whigs"

What about the Tories?
 
2012-12-26 08:00:48 PM  

NeoCortex42: Z-clipped: As someone with widely varied interests contemplating grad school for Physics while trying to knock my wife up, I am not getting a kick out of these replies.

Physics grad school, while caring for a newborn/toddler? Good luck and godspeed.


I know someone who did it. She was much of the striving, anal, overachieving type that you might expect. Smart, but not a lot of fun to be around.
 
2012-12-26 08:13:57 PM  

born_yesterday: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Some things to consider:

1. How much control do you need to have over projects to be happy? Going into industry with a BS will likely mean having to work your way up over several years. If you're doing bench work, you're likely to spend months doing repetitive, maybe boring tasks. In this case, my advice would be to be patient, and show initiative, and learn as many things you can put on your resume as you can. This could help you at that employer, and give you more control over your next position.

2. Johns Hopkins offers a Masters in Biotechnology. Maybe not the best example, because it's expensive as hell, but they seem to have gotten some things right. Namely, that some people want a degree focused towards industry. You may want to see what's available in your area. Even better, if you find a job at a solid company with your BS, you might want to look into whether they'll pay for a degree like this.

3. In biotech, I think a doctorate will price you out of the market. Had I realized this, I just might have quit my program early for a Masters. Once you get your PhD, the assumption is that you will want to run your own lab, so you'll have a very tough time applying for technician positions. There is a glut of postdocs right now, and very very few positions for them to advance into. I realize it's only an anecdote, but I have a friend from grad school that applied for a technician position, and was competing with people ranging from BS degrees to former principle investigators. That's ridiculous. (And he studies MRSA for God's sake--and he can't find work?). If the job market looked like it would get better, I might recommend the PhD and working through a postdoc or two...but that was my plan, and things haven't turned around yet.

4. If there are specific companies you are interested ...


Thanks. This is the advice I'd heard from several grad students I know, but I was curious what the feeling was out in the general internet community. I don't want bench work forever. Ultimately, I want to be running a successful biotech company, working on advanced prosthetic tech and limb/organ regeneration. Crazy futurist stuff, I know, but I think I can make it happen.
 
2012-12-26 08:16:24 PM  

nekulor: born_yesterday: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Some things to consider:

1. How much control do you need to have over projects to be happy? Going into industry with a BS will likely mean having to work your way up over several years. If you're doing bench work, you're likely to spend months doing repetitive, maybe boring tasks. In this case, my advice would be to be patient, and show initiative, and learn as many things you can put on your resume as you can. This could help you at that employer, and give you more control over your next position.

2. Johns Hopkins offers a Masters in Biotechnology. Maybe not the best example, because it's expensive as hell, but they seem to have gotten some things right. Namely, that some people want a degree focused towards industry. You may want to see what's available in your area. Even better, if you find a job at a solid company with your BS, you might want to look into whether they'll pay for a degree like this.

3. In biotech, I think a doctorate will price you out of the market. Had I realized this, I just might have quit my program early for a Masters. Once you get your PhD, the assumption is that you will want to run your own lab, so you'll have a very tough time applying for technician positions. There is a glut of postdocs right now, and very very few positions for them to advance into. I realize it's only an anecdote, but I have a friend from grad school that applied for a technician position, and was competing with people ranging from BS degrees to former principle investigators. That's ridiculous. (And he studies MRSA for God's sake--and he can't find work?). If the job market looked like it would get better, I might recommend the PhD and working through a postdoc or two...but that was my plan, and things haven't turned around yet.

4. If there are specific companies yo ...


Someone's got to do it. Best of luck to you.
 
2012-12-26 08:20:15 PM  
I thought it was just my field (mathematics) that was like this. I was accepted to an undergraduate summer program that rejected another girl I knew solely because she had a second major in physics, showing that she couldn't really be "serious" about math according to her rejection letter.
 
2012-12-26 08:20:49 PM  

uknowzit: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Unless you are going to do research you don't need a Ph.D. to make decent money. Get your undergrad in Biology and then get an MBA. You can end up running biotech companies.



Yeah. A PhD isn't strictly necessary unless you want to do research. That said, I'd recommend getting more than just a bachelor's. I got a job as a lab tech straight out of my undergraduate degree and it was mind-numbingly boring. For me. I quit after 5 months to go do a PhD. Great experience though.


trotsky: Let me add to this: go to the wrong school, have the wrong advisor, get a job at the wrong place... you're fried. Done. Third tier, grade Z. It's absolutely pathetic. I've known a few people who know their shiat but are shafted because of pedigree. Yes, myself included. It's extraordinarily depressing (yes, actual, real depression) to know that no matter what you do, no matter how good your stuff is, you will never get a job anywhere decent because you went to the wrong grad school and your first job was at the wrong location.



nekulor, you should also probably pay some attention to this. Depending on what exactly you want to do, going to the right school and working for the right supervisor is critical. Not quite so important if you go into industry, but it can matter a lot if you decide to stay in academia.


CSB:
I went to a state school for my undergraduate degree and got a B.S. in chemistry. For my PhD I went to England, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I went to a mid-level school and worked for a low-level supervisor. I only got one paper out of my PhD--in a mid-level journal--and when it came to applying for postdocs I was flat-out rejected for many and didn't even bother applying for many more.

I ended up doing a postdoc in China. The money was shiat and I was the only non-Chinese person in the entire place, but it was the top biological institute in China, and in a little over a year I got 2 papers and 2 book chapters. Now I'm on my second postdoc at a mid-level university in Australia and I'm on track to publish 4-6 papers a year, and one or two of those may even end up in Nature or a Nature-associate journal, like Nature materials. I've been here for a year, and plan to stay another 2. By 2015 my resume should be good enough to get me an associate professor job at a mid-level university in America.
end CSB


The reason I'm sharing my story is just to point out that it is very important that you choose your schools and professors wisely--depending on what you want to do. If you want to be the top guy in your field and get a Nobel Prize, you do have to go to the right schools and work for the right people. But if you just want a decent job and an unmemorable career, it's not so important. I think is is possible to claw your way back up to a respectable level if you get off to a bad start like I did, but if you take the path I took you will never be at the top of your field.

On the other hand, I played sports and rock climbed all over the world throughout my studies, and I wouldn't have been able to do that, I don't think, if I'd worked for the top guys. And I have no regrets.

Those are my thoughts, anyway. You can take them for what they're worth. Which isn't much, really.
 
2012-12-26 08:21:30 PM  

CPT Ethanolic: This is where Chinese students make great grad students - they're machines.  They simply toil, hour after hour and day after day.  Most I knew would work 7 days/week, 12-18 hours/day, for years.  Fark that.

/PhD biochemist
//Likes beer and sports more than the lab


I can second what Dr. Biochemist says here, not all of us can be Chinese lab machines. I frequented the lab on the weekends to get extra work done (and to blast shiatty 80's music while no one was around so I wouldn't get yelled at), and the only other people there were the Asian grad students. They graduate quickly and get lots of publications, but they have absolutely no life outside the lab. I'll take my one first-author publication and my PhD and be happy with it.

/Dr. Neuroscientist
//Gainfully employed
///Slashies
 
2012-12-26 08:30:09 PM  

andino: uknowzit: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Unless you are going to do research you don't need a Ph.D. to make decent money. Get your undergrad in Biology and then get an MBA. You can end up running biotech companies.


Yeah. A PhD isn't strictly necessary unless you want to do research. That said, I'd recommend getting more than just a bachelor's. I got a job as a lab tech straight out of my undergraduate degree and it was mind-numbingly boring. For me. I quit after 5 months to go do a PhD. Great experience though.


trotsky: Let me add to this: go to the wrong school, have the wrong advisor, get a job at the wrong place... you're fried. Done. Third tier, grade Z. It's absolutely pathetic. I've known a few people who know their shiat but are shafted because of pedigree. Yes, myself included. It's extraordinarily depressing (yes, actual, real depression) to know that no matter what you do, no matter how good your stuff is, you will never get a job anywhere decent because you went to the wrong grad school and your first job was at the wrong location.


nekulor, you should also probably pay some attention to this. Depending on what exactly you want to do, going to the right school and working for the right supervisor is critical. Not quite so important if you go into industry, but it can matter a lot if you decide to stay in academia.


CSB:
I went to a state school for my undergraduate degree and got a B.S. in chemistry. For my PhD I went to England, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I went to a mid-level school and worked for a low-level supervisor. I only got one paper out of my PhD--in a mid-level journal--and when it came to applying for postdocs I was flat-out rejected for many and didn't even bother applying for many more.

I ended up doing a postdoc in China. The money was shiat and I was the only non-Chinese person in the ...


I also will have a BA in German in the spring when I graduate. I'm considering, at some point, going abroad to Germany looking for employment. I speak it fluently, and I hear biotech is really getting big over there.
 
2012-12-26 08:38:41 PM  

nekulor: I also will have a BA in German in the spring when I graduate. I'm considering, at some point, going abroad to Germany looking for employment. I speak it fluently, and I hear biotech is really getting big over there.



I would strongly recommend doing that. Germans work hard AND play hard.

Would you consider getting a master's in Germany? That might not be a bad way to go either.
 
2012-12-26 08:40:48 PM  

nekulor: andino: uknowzit: nekulor: By the way, since this thread seems to be filled with scientists, grad school or try to go straight into industry? I ultimately want to work in biotech.

Unless you are going to do research you don't need a Ph.D. to make decent money. Get your undergrad in Biology and then get an MBA. You can end up running biotech companies.


Yeah. A PhD isn't strictly necessary unless you want to do research. That said, I'd recommend getting more than just a bachelor's. I got a job as a lab tech straight out of my undergraduate degree and it was mind-numbingly boring. For me. I quit after 5 months to go do a PhD. Great experience though.


trotsky: Let me add to this: go to the wrong school, have the wrong advisor, get a job at the wrong place... you're fried. Done. Third tier, grade Z. It's absolutely pathetic. I've known a few people who know their shiat but are shafted because of pedigree. Yes, myself included. It's extraordinarily depressing (yes, actual, real depression) to know that no matter what you do, no matter how good your stuff is, you will never get a job anywhere decent because you went to the wrong grad school and your first job was at the wrong location.


nekulor, you should also probably pay some attention to this. Depending on what exactly you want to do, going to the right school and working for the right supervisor is critical. Not quite so important if you go into industry, but it can matter a lot if you decide to stay in academia.


CSB:
I went to a state school for my undergraduate degree and got a B.S. in chemistry. For my PhD I went to England, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I went to a mid-level school and worked for a low-level supervisor. I only got one paper out of my PhD--in a mid-level journal--and when it came to applying for postdocs I was flat-out rejected for many and didn't even bother applying for many more.

I ended up doing a postdoc in China. The money was shiat and I was the only non-Chinese person ...


Good luck. You'll be competing with native speakers with the same background and you have to find a company willing to sponsor you for a work visa (unless you just go there to study). The company will have to explain why it cannot find any suitable candidates to even send your application in.
 
2012-12-26 08:40:49 PM  

nekulor: Thanks. This is the advice I'd heard from several grad students I know, but I was curious what the feeling was out in the general internet community. I don't want bench work forever. Ultimately, I want to be running a successful biotech company, working on advanced prosthetic tech and limb/organ regeneration. Crazy futurist stuff, I know, but I think I can make it happen.


If you want to work on Prosthetics you might want to look into Biomedical Engineering, those are the people usually designing new ones. And all sorts of other crazy shiat. I know a few and those guys also get lots of encouragement in developing patents and working on the business end of things as well.

Skanque: I can second what Dr. Biochemist says here, not all of us can be Chinese lab machines. I frequented the lab on the weekends to get extra work done (and to blast shiatty 80's music while no one was around so I wouldn't get yelled at), and the only other people there were the Asian grad students. They graduate quickly and get lots of publications, but they have absolutely no life outside the lab. I'll take my one first-author publication and my PhD and be happy with it.


They aren't all great publishers. There are many who have "great grades" and are utterly useless. My PhD department had a hit or miss track record. The trick is actually knowing their schools and those schools reputations in order to winnow out the chaff.
 
2012-12-26 08:51:30 PM  

andino: nekulor: I also will have a BA in German in the spring when I graduate. I'm considering, at some point, going abroad to Germany looking for employment. I speak it fluently, and I hear biotech is really getting big over there.


I would strongly recommend doing that. Germans work hard AND play hard.

Would you consider getting a master's in Germany? That might not be a bad way to go either.


German studies usually are a combined Bachelors/Master's equivalent done in 5 years. Not sure you can get in to a grad program there for what we consider a Master's, they just don't have the direct equivalent in many European countries.
 
2012-12-26 08:58:48 PM  
Lot of truth to that article.

That's why I bolted for biotech as soon as possible after getting my PhD. I like being in a place where "weekend" and "vacation time" and "reasonable salary and benefits" aren't dirty words.

The mindset I mostly observed in academia as a grad student and postdoc was: "if you are a serious scientist, you should be spending every possible waking moment toiling in the lab for meager pay, at minimum 10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. Everything else (relationships, family, hobbies, interests, being able to afford a decent living) is secondary and being overly concerned with them is a sign that you aren't a serious scientist."

Wasn't for me.
 
2012-12-26 09:04:53 PM  

RexTalionis: cannotsuggestaname: RexTalionis: I have a friend who is a marine biology PhD candidate whose hobby is apparently taking risque pictures of herself.

pictures or it didn't happen.

I don't think she'll appreciate that, so no.


"I don't think"

So you don't know for sure?

WHY DON'T YOU ASK?!?!?!?!
 
2012-12-26 09:09:39 PM  

Doc Daneeka: Lot of truth to that article.

That's why I bolted for biotech as soon as possible after getting my PhD. I like being in a place where "weekend" and "vacation time" and "reasonable salary and benefits" aren't dirty words.

The mindset I mostly observed in academia as a grad student and postdoc was: "if you are a serious scientist, you should be spending every possible waking moment toiling in the lab for meager pay, at minimum 10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. Everything else (relationships, family, hobbies, interests, being able to afford a decent living) is secondary and being overly concerned with them is a sign that you aren't a serious scientist."

Wasn't for me.


I worked in a lab starting at age 12 with a professor who I got to know on a random chance meeting while out at UMD with my dad. He got me published before I was out of high school, and I've had about 10 years experience there. Great experience, but I got burnt out and ended up leaving, not under the greatest terms. Jon and I are back on good terms, but I learned a lot from the mistakes I made. Anyway, I have a ton of experience in the lab. You could literally say I grew up there. I just don't want to spend my life in a lab. I want to be overseeing the operations of a large organization.

I'm a scientist, but I'm not that kind of scientist. It's taken 4 years of undergrad for me to wrestle with what I want out of science.
 
2012-12-26 09:13:52 PM  

Doc Daneeka: Lot of truth to that article.

That's why I bolted for biotech as soon as possible after getting my PhD. I like being in a place where "weekend" and "vacation time" and "reasonable salary and benefits" aren't dirty words.

The mindset I mostly observed in academia as a grad student and postdoc was: "if you are a serious scientist, you should be spending every possible waking moment toiling in the lab for meager pay, at minimum 10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. Everything else (relationships, family, hobbies, interests, being able to afford a decent living) is secondary and being overly concerned with them is a sign that you aren't a serious scientist."

Wasn't for me.



It's not like that everywhere though. My boss comes in from 10 AM to 4 PM four days a week, and she still brings in millions of dollars in grant money every year, has collaborations around the world with top scientists, and publishes 10-20 papers a year. In fact, we're required by the university to take 20 days of vacation per year.

But then again, this is Australia.
 
2012-12-26 09:16:50 PM  
My research advisor told us up front that she didn't care what we did in our spare time, as long as we spent every waking moment in lab. I put that on a T-shirt and wore it to work about once a week, along with a couple of other choice phrases from my time in the lab. She at least pretended to be amused.
 
2012-12-26 09:19:09 PM  

Doc Daneeka: Lot of truth to that article.

That's why I bolted for biotech as soon as possible after getting my PhD. I like being in a place where "weekend" and "vacation time" and "reasonable salary and benefits" aren't dirty words.

The mindset I mostly observed in academia as a grad student and postdoc was: "if you are a serious scientist, you should be spending every possible waking moment toiling in the lab for meager pay, at minimum 10 hours per day, 6-7 days per week. Everything else (relationships, family, hobbies, interests, being able to afford a decent living) is secondary and being overly concerned with them is a sign that you aren't a serious scientist."

Wasn't for me.


If it means anything, most of the bench donkeys have no place to go when they're done. The money just isn't there, not everyone can get funded, and LOTS of people have multiple good publications. Less than half will remain in science. If they reach the end of their training period without a set of translatable skills, networking contacts, leadership experience or volunteer work...I kinda feel sorry for them, regardless of their publishing success. [In full disclosure, I have a solid publication record, but am finding myself scrambling to work on other areas of my resume late in my training in order to get away from the bench].

To make it in science today, a lot of places are beginning to realize that universities need to start helping train for what were once called "alternative" (read: failure) careers away from the bench. I don't have it handy, but NSF just published a fantastic study that really got to the heart of the problems with academic culture. NIH is also taking steps to address the "postdoc problem", and they're usually the determiners (deciderers?) that force the rest of academia to follow suit.
 
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