Friday, June 18, 2010

Transitions, Part 3: Exit Strategy to Pregnant With A Side Of What Now?

Science editing! It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I looked at science editing jobs. By now I was married, and had a spouse to consider. They were all in [places we didn't want to live]. Also, like college teaching jobs, the journals all wanted a postdoc first. Because clearly writing and editing experience would be useless to a journal editor.* When you think about it, that explains A LOT....

I slowly (and then more rapidly) came to the end of my patience. I was no longer learning anything useful in my PhD work, except how to tell people to piss off in ever more creative and forceful ways, and how to avoid being mugged. Every time I talked about an exit plan, Advisor said "We'll see."

I told my advisor that I was leaving. Also that I was pregnant. And it went over surprisingly well, demonstrating that, occasionally, doing whatever the hell you want pays off. I wandered off to Cold State, because the spouse had a postdoc there. (He still harbors fond hopes of academic jobs. Also, his grad lab was much less awful than mine.)

I sat around for a few months recovering from the flashbacks and the panic attacks and the depression. I got 5 months pregnant.

I got really, really, really bored.

Next: From Here To Industry In 5,000 Easy Steps

*Favorite quote, from an editor at Nature: "Well, Nature usually requires a postdoc. But Science doesn't..."


  1. It's so interesting to read your story. From my experience, behind every person who has made an (temporary or permanent) exit from science as a career is a graduate school or postdoc adviser with completely unrealistic expectations.

  2. Love the nature quote.
    And "We'll see." is one of the least helpful answers ever. I get that more than I'd like, too. Or "That's your problem, not mine." Sigh.

  3. Mad Science: I don't think everyone who leaves had an unrealistic advisor- family or financial considerations, or simply finding that one does not wish to play the science game, could do it as well- but I'll counter with: I think every unrealistic advisor causes his/her students to leave science work at a higher rate than average!

    Amelie: I totally didn't make that up. :) "That's your problem"- yeah, whatever. Usually not true!


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