Wednesday, October 08, 2008

On Jobs and PhDs

Cold Utopia is, it turns out, amply blessed with the biotech industry. (The Army Reserve post is also hiring biologists, but one must join up. No, thank you.) The biotech industry is even hiring.

But nobody wants a PhD, except to run a 'research group' for things ranging from developing rat poisons to drug discovery. (No, really.) If I were a nurse, I could find fifteen jobs. But not a PhD. The ads are for a biostatistician with ten years' experience mapping crime or a clinical microbiologist who has worked with cheese. Sadly, I do not think the ads are written with a specific person in mind. They reflect either an extremely narrow view of who can do the job, or an unhealthy degree of optimism. This is not a large city, after all.

I learned a lot of things in grad school. How to deal with difficult people. How to get my way. How to keep a good poker face. How to get people to do what I want. A little about science. But mostly, I learned how to figure things out. Every month, I had to teach myself a completely new protocol, troubleshoot it, and produce data. On my own. It was very sink-or-swim at Snooty U, but it was also very... educational.

I probably wouldn't do for a crime-mapping statistician, but there are a lot of other jobs I could learn to do. I could learn it fast, and they'd only have to tell me once. Good companies hire people who can learn to do the job, not someone who only knows one thing. All I have to do is convince them of it.

(Also, if I ever get an in-person interview, I have determined that a Lands' End shirt one size too big will handily camouflage the baby-filled stomach for at least another month.)

Later: Have had phone interview. They suggest I might be suited for a position in technical customer support, doing the rough equivalent of juggling ferrets. In-person interview next week. Am deeply skeptical, but will go anyways.