The New Year has started with a new job—though the job may or may not be there for the next year (have to love budget cuts to higher education). So I’m back on task for trying to determine what it is exactly I want to do within science (or outside of science), since I really can’t see myself slaving away to try to land one of the coveted assistant professor positions and then work my way up the academic ladder.
So now there are some key questions that I need to ask myself as I continue on this journey of professional development and transitioning into a different job in industry.
One of the huge questions that I need to decided on the answer to is—do I stay within my comfort zone or do I start edging out of my comfort zone. Now everyone has numerous different comfort zones when it comes to work and personal life. The one I’m going to be contemplating here is my professional comfort zone of doing research.
Being a research scientist is something that I love. I’ve always considered the role of a research scientist as someone who is slowly trying to put together a massive jigsaw puzzle without a picture or knowing how many pieces you’re suppose to be working with. There are others helping you put together that puzzle, and over time they leave to work on other puzzles, or you might even get bored with that particular puzzle and head off to help other people with their puzzles. You might learn new skills by moving from puzzle to puzzle (or you might not).
With the way funding is going these days, if I’m going to stick with research—it will be within an industry setting. I picture those puzzles are a little bit more defined by the project managers and senior scientists—so at least when you come in there should be the frame of the puzzle already put together.
Going outside of my comfort zone would open up a lot of different doors for me to peek through to see which one would be a good fit. I’ll be talking more about those positions in later posts. But for now the other positions I’m thinking of include health economist, technology assessment & alliance officer, technology transfer officer, epidemiologist, or possibly quantitative research analyst.
Another key question I will have to ask myself, is do I want a job that I know may require long evenings or the occasional weekend? I know that scientific research isn’t just a nine to five job Monday thru Friday. But at the same time, I do like knowing that I can go home at the same time everyday and not have to take work with me (for the most part).
I know that any of the positions may require evening and/or weekend work (and even possibly travel), but I want to make sure that the work is worth having to “give up” some of the valuable “personal/me time” that needs to be carved into our days.
Another question is where do I want to live? I know that going into industry will require moving again (there just aren’t that many biotech type jobs in Oklahoma that I’m interested in). So then it is a matter of trying to decide: Where on the East Coast (NYC, Boston, somewhere else), the upper Midwest (MN or WI), or maybe the Pacific Northwest?
I have one major requirement when it comes to moving to a new city—there needs to be a good (or should I say decent) public transportation system. The reason for this is that I don’t drive (anxiety issues with being behind the wheel), and will be needing to be close to a bus or subway stop for getting to both work and various stores.
Now before you say anything—this is how I survived in Boston for my first postdoc. I lived near one of the subway lines, which gave me access to pretty much the entire city and the surrounding suburbs. Yes it took longer to get to work with the way I went—but that gave me time to wake up in the mornings. Going home at night was a pain, especially if there were sporting events in the city—and weekends getting to and from work were even worse (but I tried to plan my weeks to where weekend work was minimally needed).
Once I figure out comfort zone or not, which geographical area (city), and then which company I want to work for—I’ll start the next fun step of tailoring my resume and cover letter to fit each job application.