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How badly do you want to go into academia? Is science something you enjoy, or is it an all consuming passion (or close to it)? Is getting an academic position the only thing that will validate you?
I'm just asking because I have followed your blog off and on, and I'd think you would be happier in industry.
Not having been in industry, I can't say for sure.
But as I've said before, the #1 reason I want to be in academia is because I HATE having people tell me what I should be studying, scientifically. I have plenty of my own ideas. And I have no interest in working on other people's ideas. It's just never as fun as seeing the whole project go from the inception, the moment of realization, to the end. If not proof, then at least consistently supporting evidence... it's really satisfying. I like that feeling of finding out if I was right. It's not as much fun when you're testing someone else's hypothesis.
And I don't mind being wrong. That's okay in academia. I don't think it's appreciated so much in industry!?
So yeah, science is something I enjoy. When I get to do it my way, it is great fun. I love discovering new things.
It's not an all-consuming passion. It's hard to be constantly passionate about something as frustrating as science. I'm used to the 99% failure rate for experiments. It's worth it to me because I like the aspect of getting constant feedback from the universe. Try something, and at least you know, if you designed it the right way, what to do next. I'm used to taking joy from the little things that just keep the momentum going forward- the gel worked! I got colonies from my transformation! They're not all big discoveries, but you have to enjoy, as they say, the journey as much as the destination.
But I don't think it's healthy to be consumed by anything. It's good to fuel yourself off your passions... but don't let your candle burn at both ends.
Is getting an academic position going to validate me? NO WAY.
Will it give me a chance to see what I can do if I'm allowed to do things my way? HELL YEAH.
And wouldn't that be a hell of a lot of fun?!
Let's put it this way: since the day I started my first postdoc, I began my Wish List for things I would get and do when I have my own lab. Is that something the - let's call them Idunno postdocs- is that something that Idunno postdocs typically do?
Did I mention how I've had newly hired faculty ask me, on more than one occasion, what they should buy with their startup package? I mean, COME ON!!! Haven't you ever thought about this before now???
And isn't it something they should ask in the interview?? Why would you hire someone who didn't know how they would answer that question?
A friend was saying to me at dinner the other night that I'd - in his words- kick ass if I had a team of just 3 or 4 people and a little money and the freedom to do research the way I think it should be done.
Most people who know me are pretty convinced I'd be good at the job if given the chance.
Just curious ... what is your Publication Record like? Have you published in Big Journals? Are you working in a Hot Field? Worked for Famous People?
Uh, publications quite decent.
Big Journals, no. Not in the Top Three.
I have one paper that has been cited quite a few times, though. But I think my advisor likes to take credit for that one. We both know it was mostly my own, independent work, but I'm not sure if that's something that comes across in my letters of recommendation. I probably should make a point of asking that it be mentioned explicitly. You never know what people might forget to say!
Hot Field? Yes. Right now, yes. But wait five minutes, who knows what will be 'in' for next year's new crop of fresh meat faculty!
Famous People? Yes. Do I have letters from them? No. Why not, you ask? Well, life is funny. And most of the Famous People that I've worked with were ... extremely self-absorbed at best, royal f@#$-ing assholes at worst.
I have high (probably overly optimistic) hopes that the current Famous People with whom I work will be more helpful to me than the previous ones. They seem like they at least mean well, as higher-ups usually do at first, if given the benefit of the doubt. Though I'm sure that given enough time, they will disappoint me, at which point I will fail to hide my irritation, and this will piss them off, if I'm not careful. Hence my desire to get good letters and get out of there before I find out all their weaknesses and shortcomings.
Yes, I have problems with Authority.
I'm sitting here watching The Count of Monte Cristo on tv. It's one of my favorite movies.
I love how the turning point in the plot is when he finds a mentor.... in jail. I love how the mentor firmly believes he can teach him everything he knows, and he doesn't give him an IQ test beforehand. The message is that it's really a matter of believing that almost anyone can learn almost everything, if taught well.
Hooray for education!
And last but not least, I love the revenge plot. There's a lot to be said for the idea that living well is the best revenge. And this is such a great illustration of when revenge is warranted, and how to go about getting it.