Monday, July 30, 2007

Weird day.

Found out today that yet another postdoc friend is quitting academia for an industry job.

I'm still in shock. This person is really good, and seemed genuinely interested in science, not super negative about long hours or low pay, and not any more ambivalent about academia in general than I am...?

But I'm also gleeful.

Another one bites the dust! More jobs for me! Yippeee!

And I keep thinking,

Man, they're dropping like flies!

So I'm still processing, I guess, how I feel about this.

Hooray for dead flies?

I also got a reagent from somebody else's lab for an experiment... but it probably won't work.

How do I know it won't work? Because along with the reagent, I got a 15 minute disclaimer about how the protocol for using it doesn't make any sense and how it's not reliable, but that's how they do it, even though sometimes it doesn't work, and then they just do it over again.

I mean, you could say about almost any experiment or reagent that sometimes it doesn't work, and then you just do it over again. But when you emphasize how unreliable it is? Are you kidding me? This is not a good sign.

So, great, thanks! Good thing it's published and that paper is why you got your faculty position, you stupid *$%@!

Grrrr!

In other news, another reagent I got from a different lab is also turning out to be complete crap, also has been published and is also the reason another #*%! got a job.

Lucky me, I now have to do a bunch of extra experiments, which will probably never get published, just to prove to my PI that these reagents are crap! Absolute crap!

But it's not as if, when confronted with these data, these *$%& will say, "Oh my god, you're absolutely right! How could we have been so foolish! We should retract that paper right now! How embarrassing!"

No, that won't happen.

And it's not as if confronting them with these data would make them respect me more. In all likelihood, it would only help to further torpedo my career, since they would get mad, get defensive, attack me, hold a grudge, and proceed to tell all their friends to reject every paper and grant I might submit from now until eternity.

[aside: Can you further torpedo something like a career when it's already really sucky? Sometimes it's hard to tell whether you've really hit bottom. I saw a t-shirt the other day that said "Career suicide" all over it.]

In other news, lately I'm so annoyed, I find myself adopting a kind of Dolores Umbridge voice when I'm talking to myself in the lab.

You know, you do it too, when you're alone and juggling lots of samples, you say, "Okay, now what was I looking for?" and any number of other things like that, directed at the pipettes and the tubes. I'm right, right?

Well lately my pipette voice has become freakishly perky, because I'm literally that annoyed, ALL THE TIME.

But hey, maybe it's a good thing. I suspect most people wouldn't know I'm in a permanent state of sarcasm, and would instead be impressed that I've learned to adopt a more Positive Attitude!

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12 Comments:

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are so bitter it is scary. why don't you just quit? pathetic. yeah, the system sucks and it is political, but do you really think there is any other profession out there that is so frigging altruistic. get over yourself and your high horse notion and realize that yes there is science and it is great and doing it is great, but science as a profession--it's a game like everything else. if you don't want to play, get off the field and go be a barefoot pregnant housewife.

 
At 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say at least 1/2 of recent Ph.D. grads or postdocs I know are thinking about or have jumped ship ... and I include myself in the 'thinking about' category.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/23/AR2007072301364.html

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Betsy said...

People who are "really good and genuinely interested in science" are abundant in industry, as much as people who suck are abundant in academia. Get over yourself.

I truly hope you get your dream academic job. But as you know, it's tough out there for an academic scientist. Not keeping your mind open to other options is career suicide.

 
At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before I read your blog I would have described myself as the poster child for the dissillusioned and sarcastic female post doc. Now I know that I was wrong. You make me want to go to industry. And then, "yay", there would be even more jobs for you. And shame on you for acting like this poor colleague copped out. That sort attitude takes away our choices and is detrimental to everyone. And after putting in the time for ones Phd, why would you want to envoke limits on your potential?

 
At 6:39 AM, Anonymous TW Andrews said...

Found out today that yet another postdoc friend is quitting academia for an industry job.

I'm still in shock. This person is really good, and seemed genuinely interested in science, not super negative about long hours or low pay, and not any more ambivalent about academia in general than I am...?


And you still don't have any cognitive dissonance about your views of industry?

You can be genuinely interested in science, and even do it in industry! And they like people who are really good. But you don't have to deal with the low pay, long hours or writing grants.

I'm surprised you haven't at least put together a resume and seen what's could be out there in industry for you--if for nothing beyond the ego boost of getting an offer or two. I mean, you can always turn them down.

 
At 2:55 AM, Blogger desparado said...

hope you have more dead flies to count.

 
At 3:09 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Anonymous 1,
Funny, a friend said that to me today, too. I'm pretty sure I could afford a trailer...

Anonymous 2,
That article rocks. Thanks for putting the link. I want to send fan mail to Gene Sperling!

Betsy, Anonymous 3, and TW,
You're not the first to suggest this, nor I'm sure will you be the last.

I guess the point I haven't driven home with enough heavy anvils is to say again that the only reason I'm still a postdoc is because of my project, and it's something the likes of which would never, EVER, be done in industry.

It's all fine and good to make money, but if you don't have enough intellectual freedom, what's the point?

You have always have a job. A career is something different. I would have a totally different kind of career in industry, but I'm not convinced, as hinted at by our first commenter, that it would be any less of a game in industry. Maybe a slightly different game, where instead of riding high horses, people ride ponies?

 
At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

had to re-read the post carefully to make sure it wasn't an old one i had read before.

i'm a postdoc currently at academia and i'm actually afraid i wouldn't make it in industry. i used to work there for a couple years before i started grad school. industry can be very intellectually challenging, the money flows freely, and lots of things are at stake. i feel it is more cutthroat than academia.

honestly, to each her own. i don't need to convince you otherwise. it's your life and you've got to live your own dream! that's what i would say to these other people who leave holier-than-thou types of comments.

 
At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Plant Master Flash said...

I'm not convinced, as hinted at by our first commenter, that it would be any less of a game in industry. Maybe a slightly different game, where instead of riding high horses, people ride ponies?

Well, now that you are going to have a friend in industry, the best thing you can do is to learn about that game by asking him/her questions about their experiences there. You might be surprised by what you learn.

I've found that money does wonders for bitterness. It doesn't fix everything, but it sure helps one's mood not to be living hand to mouth.

 
At 7:58 AM, Anonymous TW Andrews said...


You're not the first to suggest this, nor I'm sure will you be the last.

I guess the point I haven't driven home with enough heavy anvils is to say again that the only reason I'm still a postdoc is because of my project, and it's something the likes of which would never, EVER, be done in industry.


I obviously don't know the details of your project, so can't comment on that, but I assume that you're correct. There are definitely things that are done in academia that would never be done in industry. The converse is also true.

It may very well be the case that industry is not at all the right place for you, but from your comments on this blog it's pretty clear that you're judging the current reality of your life in academia against a caricature of life in industry. There's interesting and unique science done there. You might even like some of it.

Anyway, I'm not suggesting you look into what an industry career is actually like because Team Industry gets points every time an academic converts, it's because I like reading your blog, feel some sympathy for you and the difficulties you write about, and think that if you had an idea about the reality of life in industry you might be pleasantly surprised.

 
At 8:44 PM, Anonymous SmartBoy said...

Shity science.Just quit.Ahaha.Or suck the dick of your boss.Dude these days science is lead by morons and is nothing you can do about it.Roman empire felt because of corruption.
I work too in research and things are quite simple:they win a 1 milion "reasearch" grant.They split 900 thousand with their "sponsor" and they hire some cheap foreign chinese for 30 thousand and 30k in materials and 40k in discretionary funds.:)
That is the way things go.I read the previous morons coments, they are hilarious.AHAHAHA

 
At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

your job has made you mad. listen to yourself. i did that talking to myself thing when i was doing experiments too. i didn't realize how unhappy i was until i quit my phd after my quals.

i have never looked back since. there are A LOT of things you can do outside academia that pays better and makes you less insane.

 

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