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2016 June 5

Non-academic science career information aggregator

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I was recently pointed to a collection of links that many science and engineering grad students may find useful: The Prodigal Academic: Non-academic science career information aggregator

Non-academic science career information aggregator

Below is a list of websites that may be helpful.of interest to scientists looking outside of academia. This is by no means a complete list, so if you know of other useful sites, let me know, and I will add them in!

Blog posts about non-academic careers: …

CV vs resume: …

Possibly interesting career guidance: …

Interesting non-academic science online discussion: …

I’ve not copied the actual links, just the headers, as I don’t want to steal content from The Prodigal Academic, but just point to the web page as a useful resource. Most grad students in the sciences have to seek jobs outside academia, but their mentors are, for the most part, clueless about life outside academia (me included).

In engineering, the working degree is the MS, not the PhD (which is primarily for those seeking academic positions, or with a few small industrial or government research labs). Most engineering faculty are aware of the MS (“real” job) vs PhD (academic job) distinction, but still advise their students towards the path they themselves took.  Since many engineering faculty did some time in industry before turning to academia, there are often mentors around who can suggest different career paths.

In science fields. most faculty have been in academia their whole lives and can’t provide any useful information about other choices.  (Although I’m an engineering faculty member, I’ve also been in academia my whole life, so I can identify with the science faculty here.)

One major distinction between science and engineering is that in most science fields, the PhD is a requirement even for entry-level jobs, because of the huge over-production of PhDs in those fields. Biomedical research is probably the worst, in that several years of postdoc “training” are expected, so that many do not get jobs with any security of  employment until they are in their 40s.  (And by “security of employment”, I don’t mean tenure—I mean a job that doesn’t have defined end date before you even start work.) Huge numbers of scientists work on short-term contracts (2 years is common for a postdoc contract) with little expectation of the contracts turning into longer-term jobs.

So students need to be looking beyond their faculty advisers for advice about what to do with their degrees, and The Prodigal Academic has collected a number of useful posts with advice that many faculty members can’t give.  I plan to send the link to mailing lists of students, who might benefit from more knowledge of alternatives to the academic careers of their faculty advisers.

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