Well this is the first entry for my series on getting ready to travel to, around, and then back from London.  This past weekend I decided that I needed to expand the horizon for job searching…….I mean I’ve put out seventy job applications since the end of March, and about half have come back as nos–either I didn’t have the entire skill set; I hadn’t been publishing that many papers (forgot to add in the handful of in-house student publications that my name is on); I had my PhD too long (yep, in today’s job market there are a large number of labs that prefer to hire scientists who have only been out of grad school less than four to five years; right now I’m not going to age myself and say how long I’ve had mine); or I didn’t have a strong background in a subject. Another quarter have also been ignored–I’ve sent a follow-up email and have yet to hear a peep back on the status of my application–I don’t mind getting rejected. At least that tells me that my application was at least considered. When I don’t get a response, I figure that my application for whatever reason ended up in the trash (or recycling) bin.

Okay lets look at these responses logically and from the opposite viewpoint–industry is about the bottom line; they don’t want to waste time training someone, if they can find the skill set in someone who may not have the terminal degree (that person may only have a masters). I understand this, and almost wish that they’d just list their preferred qualifications as the minimum qualifications.  Why?  Because I will still apply for a job even if I’m lack a skill or two–because I will honestly state that I know little (to nothing) about that skill, but I’m willing to learn; with the hopes that there will be someone who is willing to take the chance.

Yes, science is all do or die, publish or perish. This is one of the many things that I despise about science–you are always rushing to get results, rushing to repeat to make sure your first results are valid, and then rushing to get enough data to write a paper in hopes of getting it into a high end journal.  When you spend three years, mentoring students–there aren’t that many publications coming out–mainly because undergraduates don’t live in the lab like graduate students, postdocs, and techs do. I could have several publications out, but there would have been little input from the students (though some did manage to publish their small projects in an in-house journal; so technically I did get a few publications out over the past three years).

Having the PhD too long is a problem, only when you aren’t sure which direction you should be going in.  I love the freedom of research in the academic area–if you can get funding for the project (and it isn’t too controversial) you can study just about anything. The only problem is that funding is getting tighter and tighter, professors are retiring at a later age, and fewer new professors are being hired to replace those who are retiring. I’ve spent the time since earning my PhD in academia (two postdocs and then a staff position), and while I’m looking for a new position–half my applications have been geared towards industry (which is also where a good majority of my rejections or ignores have come from).

So how does this all relate to the title of the post (and the beginning of the post)?  As I was going through various job websites, I’d noticed that there was a career expo being held in London in early October, and there would be both academia and industry reps from various countries in Europe, plus a workshop on getting the CV polished. London has always been a place that I’ve wanted to visit, but either haven’t had the time and/or the money. I decided that the expo was needed (if nothing else hopefully for networking), and a few extra days in London as a mini-vacation were needed as well (after the past couple of years on the previous job and just life in general).  Hence–two tasks and one plane ticket.

I’m heading there with the goal of networking, and hopefully getting my CV/resume out to show that I’m willing to relocate; and to see sites that I’ve always wanted to see–Big Ben (even though it isn’t ringing right now); Tower of London; Stonehenge just to name a few.  This is an ultimate challenge for me in some aspects–first time abroad (alone), and first time at a scientific expo (alone).  But I’m willing to listen to the whispers of the universe and they are saying that I need to go to London next month. I’ve realized that my road is curving, and that I could be coming to another crossroad. I trust in the universe to guide me in the direction that I am needed and shine my light to help others shine their light as well.

Beauty is around us, we just need to open our eyes and our hearts to see it. Smile a little more, laugh a little more, and when you see a flower, stop and admire it. There needs to be more love and less hate spread in the world these days.