Thursday, April 29, 2010

The somewhat skewed facts of a phD future (rant)

Recently I was discussing the phenomenon of the MRS degree. To be honest, I didn’t get it at first but A) I wasn’t looking at it in writing and B) let’s face it, I can be a little thick sometimes. The MRS degree is for girls like those I met my freshman year of undergrad. Those who showed up to our 8am bio class with perfect hair and makeup. The ones that were in our degree for 1 thing - to become a Mrs Dr Somebody. They scoped out the lecture hall for those med school track boys. I’m sure some of them were there for legitimate reasons, (I saw them in my later organic chem classes and I wanted to take names then. A list comprised of people whom, if they ever became a doctor, I would never be treated by) but there were plenty that were there and gone rather fast. They were there for the Mrs. Degree.

Strangely, the thought popped in my head “That’s a lot of work for an advanced Mrs degree.” I have, on occasion, mused about being a stay at home mom and what that would mean. I know of people that got their phD and then did that. I don’t mean it disrespectfully, but dang, that’s a lot of work. Sometimes that’s just a fact of the job market or how things balance with their husband/significant other…but I’m sure some of it is by choice. I always wondered if stay at home mom was for me but it seems like a waste of a lot of good years with this phD stuff.

On the other hand, I know many students that want to run far, far away from academia when they are finished. And still plenty of others that want to run away from research altogether. A friend that wants to be a midwife, ones that want to do consultant work in something else and then there is me, who has looked seriously into nursing more than once. Who knows what I’ll be when I grow up…

I also have friends with their degrees that are at the manager level of something outside of science. “You have a phD? Well, that means you can learn things, right? Manager you are.” Or something like that.

There is a huge variety of non-traditional careers in science. So many no one can keep track of them all. And the worst is that no one can tell you how to find them. After several seminars, I haven’t found a good resource. If you are a chemist go to ACS - they have career counseling for chemists. Sadly, there isn’t one for biologists - yet. Maybe I’ll found that when I grow up. Or be a consultant for TV shows like House or CSI or movies that fail at science so they won't suck so much at science...
Mission to Mars

Non-Traditional Careers in Science
An old Nature Article describes associations with the legal profession, scientific writing/editing and even space research. Wee.

The biggest hit in Google under the search Non-traditional Careers in Science is a book so titled….from 1998. There is a book for Chemists from 2006 Nontraditional Careers for Chemists: New Formulas in Chemistry Chemistry might have something but the author didn’t have much for us biologists (I haven’t read her book but I did hear her speak). She did have one thing to say - if you can dream it up, you can probably find it. Well, that’s just peachy - and says nothing about a job that will survive more than a year or be able to support you, let alone a family. Yeah….

Optimism isn’t my strong suit today…

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