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A struggling scientist: Plan B

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God will plan the best path.

How is about becoming a patent lawyer?
Polar Bear said this is a pretty boring job. Meet the scientists or researchers, re-write their research in legal wordings.

Although 49 per cent of respondents to the 30,000 questionnaires — given to researchers, engineers, technicians affiliated to hospitals, and school science teachers — say they are satisfied with their jobs, more than half are opposed to their children becoming scientific researchers.
About 32 per cent of S&T workers have a lower salary than the national average and eight per cent work more than 70 hours per week.

Tips on How Academic Scientists Can Make the Career Switch to Industry
Don Rule 2/25/10

Scientists have a lot to consider if they want to leave the world of academia for a job in industry. I picked up a lot of good insights yesterday at a meeting of people with experience in making that transition.

This event was hosted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, organized by the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association, and sponsored by Allen Austin, an executive search firm. I figured it was valuable enough material that it was worth submitting to Xconomy so that more people in the Seattle innovation community could benefit from what was said.

The panel included Ulrich Mueller, the vice president for tech transfer at the Hutch; Jonathan Drachman, a vice president at Seattle Genetics; Ken Ferguson, the CEO of Imvaxyn; Richard Mitchell, the director of business development at the Hutch; and Mark Mendel, an invention development manager at Intellectual Ventures.

Here are the key points I took down from the panel:

—Academic positions in science are largely solitary whereas positions in industry tend to be more collaborative across a broader field of disciplines. Where the currency of academia is publishing your own intellectual output, companies must marshal a broad spectrum of talents (bench science, regulatory, communications, financial, business development, etc.) toward a common goal. Several panelists were attracted to the team orientation of the companies they worked at “everyone was trying to contribute to good decisions.”

—Industrial positions are generally better equipped than academia. A company built around solving specific problems is more likely to invest in core facilities and equipment that would be difficult to replicate with grant funding.

—The breadth and diversity of experience is greater in industry because you need to collaborate with marketing, legal, finance, and customers to get a product into the market.

—While industry offers more pay and broader opportunities there is somewhat less freedom to follow individual interests. While the best funded companies allow you to spend up to 20 percent of your time on exploratory “science” you are hired in industry to fulfill more narrowly defined tasks that must fit into the company’s purpose.

—There is no tenure in industry. The business of biotech is tenuous and subject to business cycles so if you look for a job in biotech you have to have the appropriate expectations. Sometimes funding collapses at the moment of maximum promise.

—Your need to justify the science by financial imperatives is similar to the need to justify a grant.

—Because of the need to collaborate, people skills are much more important in industry. Mangers put a higher premium on people that can communicate and cooperate than on simple brilliance.

From: Science magazine

College teaching isn’t the only teaching scientists can do; somebody has to teach science to our children, so it may as well be people who know the subject well.

These days, most new science teachers are career changers; thanks to a growing demand in much of the world, midcareer professionals–especially those with training in science, mathematics, technology, computer science, and engineering–are finding professional fulfillment teaching schoolchildren, inside and outside the classroom. When scientists leave the bench to become schoolteachers, they usually bring a deep knowledge of a scientific discipline, a love of science, and insight into how real people do science. Their experience means more maturity than most beginners, and that makes them better teachers.

That’s all very well for the students, and for the society whose future those students hold in their hands. But what’s in it for the teachers? There’s satisfaction, for one. Most people say teaching–teaching well, at any rate–is a hard job. But the opportunity to affect children’s lives for the better is a major perk. Teachers perform a service to society by inspiring and training the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, engineers–and teachers. And teachers often affect children in other, even more important ways as coaches, mentors, and role models.

And then there’s the fact that, although teaching salaries are not especially high, they’re usually higher than the typical postdoc stipend. Experts say that potentially permanent jobs are readily available–something you can’t say about tenure-track faculty positions. Here’s the clincher: Most schoolteachers get their summers off.

Written by blueroselady

November 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Posted in career

Tagged with ,

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