Towards the end of my PhD, like all PhD students, I was left with two options: carry on working in research; or start a non-academic career. Even though I very well knew that I was only extending a road that led to a dead-end, I ended up taking up a job as a postdoctoral scientist.
There were good reasons for me to take up a job in research, too. I loved science — and still do, although not the labwork part — and had an incredibly enjoyable experience in my PhD, so it made sense to stay and do science for a bit longer. After living off a PhD stipend, I was facing financial hardship, and a modest postdoctoral salary seemed lucrative at the time.
And above all, I didn’t know what else I could do, so staying in science bought me some extra time before figuring out my next move. Or so I thought, without realising that I would end up in the same situation three years down the line. At the end of my postdoctoral research contract, I still didn’t have a clue on the non-academic career possibilities.
(If you want to read about how I got out of academia in more detail, I’ve summarised them here and here.)
If I had the option to go back with all the knowledge I have now, I’d still extend my research career, mainly because I loved my PhD and my postdoctoral experience.
But I’m also aware that many PhD students don’t have a pleasant experience in academia, yet they end up carrying on in research. Why? Because like me, when I finished my PhD, they too have limited knowledge of non-academic career. Add career uncertainty with financial pressure, and you get a perfect recipe for a rash decision, which many come to regret sooner or later.
And unlike me — if these PhD students knew of other non-academic career paths — perhaps they would choose a different career route.
So, with this in mind, I’ve decided to start a blog series to highlight different career paths: both academic and non-academic. I’ll speak to various friends and colleagues, whose paths overlapped with me while I was in research, and I’ll report their roles and responsibilities in short blog articles.
I hope this blog series will give you (PhD students, undergraduates, advisors, anyone interested in post-PhD careers, and all my readers) an idea of post-PhD jobs and opportunities that are out there, so when you look for a career pathway after your PhD, your decision will be more informed.
Note that I’ll also speak to friends who have ended up in academia and will ask them how them for tips and advice for anyone interested in an academic career. So stay tuned!
Read blogs related to academia and Post-PhD careers here: https://www.talkplant.com/category/career-blogs/
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