Despite some misgivings, I want to blog (vaguely) about my recent invited seminar.
I went to this other department to give a talk and see if it was the kind of place I'd want to be in the future. I was REALLY excited about it. I was REALLY stressed about it. And as a result, I think I did a pretty kickass job.
I get there, and while I give a good talk, and I enjoy speaking to everyone I spoke to....at the end of the day, I was totally exhausted and just stripped of my desire to go into academia. I can't explain it. No one said a single thing that explicitly made it a less than desirable career path. In fact, everyone seemed happy and seemed to love their job. But....somehow I was just like, "I am too tired for this." It makes no sense, but even now, the feeling remains.
I really can't figure out why this happened. I am presuming that in a while this desire might come back, but for the time being, I just don't wanna. Is this strange? Did this happen to anyone else? It just suddenly felt like too much to bear....too much bullshit.
Now that I think back, part of me thinks that it has to do with some praise I got from one of the faculty members I spoke with. He said that because my work was so rigorously done, it seemed totally unsexy, which is unfortunate in his mind because he found the rigor with which I did my work refreshing. And then it just dawned on my how much bullshit goes on in the world of academia and the art of getting published, getting grants, etc. I had been really happy about my work and what I accomplished in my own bubble of working on it, but upon getting out there and sharing it, I realized anew that not everyone will appreciate what I've done, and that in all likelihood, people who do not share my penchant for rigor and strict methodology will succeed wildly in both publishing, grant-getting, and overall career success. I'm not saying anyone at this institution was like that, but I'm just saying I'd forgotten kind of how things go when I spent so long working in a bubble on my work, which satisfies my personal standards. My personal standards are not everyone else's personal standards, and fighting against that can be a rough life, particularly when funding is a bitch and it's going to be crazy competitive. Anyway, that's as far as I got to diagnosing my own loss of interest, I will probably spend a bit more time getting introspective about it, and will blog if I have any more breakthroughs.
So now that I don't feel like academia, I do know I would still like to do some amount of research. Without getting into specifics, basically I now have two choices of industrial labs - far-reaching/out-there work, that is a radical departure from current technology, and a lab that would be much more near-term in focus but also would probably provide me with a lot more tangible knowledge of how things really work. The focus of these two labs is very different. The pay and benefits is likely to be very different. And my coworkers are likely to be very different. I want to position myself well during this nascent part of my post-graduate career, and I'm not sure what the best way to do this. It sounds reminiscent of recent discussions of how to choose a post-doc, but different in that it doesn't have anything to do with a PI, but rather the focus of an industrial lab.
And of course, it's not so simple as just the focus - it's the coworkers. The compensation. The ability to learn lots of new things. The ability to publish. To get known. It's not like there's a sweet spot of how much risk/reward I want to take with my career and voila, that will have chosen for me. There are a lot of other factors....
What to do, what to do.....
1 year ago