Ways To Make Money
The message from Seed inviting me to relocate, and someone's comment about becoming a shill for industry, made me realize my whole life revolves around money right now.
(By the way, I had to look up 'shill' since it's a word I never really knew the definition of. According to my OS X Dictionary Widget, a shill is 'an accomplice to a hawker, gambler, or swindler who acts as an enthuasiastic customer to entice or encourage others.'
Hard to imagine me being a shill for anything, but I'm sure I've been one unwittingly in the past, so never say never, right?)
So money is the topic today. First off, you should know what Seed offers to pay: zero. At least, that's what I would get paid unless traffic on my blog increases exponentially after the move, and even then it's in the realm of ~ enough to pay the cable bill once a month. So if I decided to relocate, it would be more for the increased interaction with other science bloggers and science blog-readers, i.e. a sense of community (and a little more publicity). (Feel free to weigh in if you're totally for or against it. I'm on the fence for the moment.)
Second, here's what I'm doing for the next couple of months:
Writing, and re-writing, grants.
Nothing works to make you regret your choice of career like grantwriting. Yes, it's glorified, academicized, begging. Or as some of my friends call it, Welfare for PhDs.
Nothing brought home this point so clearly as talking to some friends who work at Intel. Here's what people at Intel get for working there (and now I'm quoting from their webpage, because as a skeptical scientist I had to verify for myself that this is really all true):
Employee Cash Bonuses
Benefits: medical, dental, life and accident insurance, retirement, paid vacations (including sabbaticals, which are 8 weeks off after 7 years of service)
Training ("In 2005, Intel spent an average of $3,700 per employee worldwide on training and development.")
Education - tuition reimbursement
Now, I have friends who work at big Pharma (Merck, DuPont, Amgen, Invitrogen, etc.) and some of them have these kinds of pacakages, and some don't.
Job satisfaction, from what I can tell, depends largely on what groups you're in: what the projects are, and who you work with. And you have to go along, get along- many of these 'extras' depend on 'performance' , aka how much they like you. But nobody pretends it works any other way. Unlike in academic science, where we're all so Objective, open-minded and Fair.
So we have to ask ourselves, why on earth are PhDs in bioscience willing to work for peanuts (or to be more accurate, Ramen)?
I've always been a big proponent of the idea that when people don't have to worry about the basics, they're happier, more creative, and WAY more productive.
Lately I find myself preoccupied with the concern that I'm going to be unemployed (and therefore, unable to continue living where I'm living now, and possibly unable to repair my car if it should die anytime soon).
I got so preoccupied I started doing a little research on how hard it would be for me to switch careers entirely. Here's what I found out.
Careers where people are needed:
Drug enforcement agency
transportation security (yes, the people who manhandle your bags at the airport)
border police/customs officers
nurses (of course)
Now, at first glance you might think, I can totally see YFS working for the FBI! But no. They are recruiting for chemists and other scientific disciplines, but there appears to be no shortage of bioscience types looking to switch to forensics or something along those lines. Same for the DEA.
Further down the list, while sales is the last thing I'd want to do, I have noticed a disturbing trend among the sales folk hawking pipette pens at our local vendor fairs: they've all done a postdoc. When I graduated from college, I had a friend who went off to do sales with just a BA. At the time I thought, well it's sort of a waste because she's bright, but I knew she'd be good at it because she was very attractive in that way that made you want to try anything she suggested in the hopes that you'd be half as appealing as she was. And at the time, I think most sales reps had nothing beyond a BA. So you can see why I think this is just another sign of the times we're living in.
Further down, I met a woman today who did 5 years of postdoc and then went back to get a management degree (2 more years of school, at her expense). She's now looking for administrative jobs. I also think it's a bad sign when there's more demand for bureaucrats than there is for people to actually do what they're trained for (highly specialized research).
To become even a lowly pharmacy lab tech, you have to have a 6-month certification, from what I can glean.
So there's nothing I could really go and do right now, with the training I have, besides another postdoc.
It doesn't get much bleaker than that.