Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A new career advice asking person....

Back on the comments page for my Application Scientist posting (what is an app scientist and what do they do anyway?) there is a new person asking carreer type questions, and so I will address those here. I am going to sum up her background and questions and then got on with it.

Summary of her comment:

1. General buttering up of me. Greatly appreciated and inflates my head further. My wife does not appreciate this but she is not typing here....

2. Background: She is dropping out of the Ph.D. program Less than ?2? years in before she takes her Quals, and thus won't leave with either a masters or a Ph.D. Before starting program worked in industry for 4 years after getting a B.S. but hates bench work.
Them: "You have a Ph.D."
Me: "Yes"
Them: "I worked in the lab for a bunch of years, and was going to go do but decided to do this instead. I know as much as you and didn't miss anything by not doing it"
Me" "OK"
Them: "It just wasn't the right time of my life, and there was a lot going on"
Me: "OK"
Them: ....more rambling and getting more defensive....
This is a horrible conversation, and I keep having it. I want to shout at them "I DONT CARE". So - my take home message of this is to make sure you are making the decision you want to make and then get on with it. Don't regret it later, and don't tell me about it when you are interviewing or when I/you start working together. When you sound guilty and defensive about it you don't make yourself look good.

The other quesions:
So, I got only a BS so far, not happy in my program, trying to get feedback on what is AVAILABLE and WHAT IS AT STAKE if I re-enter the field AS IS!
You can do this. You do answer your own question though. You point out that there are some non-Ph.D.'s at the higher levels of some companies, and that this proves it is possible. You are correct - there are. I have written about this on the blog several times, and I can't be bothered to look at whether I am being consistent in my opionion or not, but would guess NO - so when I write this please keep in mind this is todays opionion. I think Non-Ph.D.'s at biotech companies have a much harder time getting to the higher levels than Ph.D.'s. When two people act the same, speak the same, etc...the same - the Ph.D. will get the job every time. How much better does the Non-Ph.D. have to be? I don't know that you can quantify "better" but I would say that it is "quite a bit" better that is needed. SO - not impossible by any means, but definatly not stacking the deck in your own favor.
The question you didn't ask is "Is that time that I would spend in the lab worth it once I get to the working world" and to this - looking at where you are - I would (subject to much I don't know) say that I would quit as well. You are looking at several more years worth of work, for low pay, and doing something that you don't sound that psyched about. In that time, you can have gone to industry and piled up a pretty nice resume and be well on your way. As an App Scientist, you are still building technical credibility, so you have that going for you. You are going to have to, after a year or two or three, start looking to move towards marketing/sales/bus dev or some other role in the company as you will burn out and will also really be tapped out on what they will let you do without the degree.

I have totally lost track of your questions!

ah - are you nuts for quitting and how to explain your quitting.

I think you are quite sane for quitting. I have never understood people doing jobs that they don't like as I think it makes them all around miserable people that no one likes. No fun is being had and it takes them much longer to complete the task anyway. With your attitude you would be looking at a longer haul than someone who is fired up and motivated (me for the first few years...). To explain your quitting, just do it. I quit becuase I didn't want to do it. Business excited me more, and the lab was unappealing. All of your other stories didn't sound that good to me and sounded like cop outs. I am of the opionion that meeting it head on is the right answer, and if you were interviewing with me and try any of the other answers, I would drop you. Other people, with other personalities, will have other opinions.

BUT - you should note that everyone you will talking to, likely, will have made the decision to leave the lab as well. There is a reason they are interviewing you, and its not becuase they are still in the lab. On some level they made the same decision as well and didn't (go to /stay in) the the lab.

I realize I am a couple of hours too late, but real life gets in the way some times. Saw that you had posted the comment ( a blackberry is evil...) but didn't have time to write. Hope it went well.

Did I miss any questions?

**edited** would point you to this post to see what I have done recently.....

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