Sunday, July 26, 2009

Working: Industry or Academia?

I am finally getting used to the cadence of working.

What this means is that when I get ready for bed on the weekdays, I don't think, "What? Time for bed already? And do it all again tomorrow!? Wtf, where did the time go?" I now feel like my evenings are THERE, not just ethereal slots of time that slip away before I realize it.

This also means that on weekends, I do not sleep until 11:30 or 12:30am....I am getting up around 8 or 9. This is good, because my weekends had seemed pretty useless, spent entirely in recovery, kind of like a weekend long post-work hangover. Now, I feel ready to....do stuff on weekends.

Unfortunately, for the time being, the "stuff" I should do is really work on getting my thesis finished. It's really something I've just got to get done, otherwise the time will pass and I'll eventually just give up on it. This is not allowed to happen.

So...how do I feel about work? I work in an industrial lab. This means I have a boss who really directs the overall vision of the research work that we do, which is kind of different from (my) grad school experience, where I had almost complete freedom of direction. However, I know many graduate students who are very micro-managed by their advisors and might feel there is a *decrease* in direction management when taking a job like mine. Especially though my boss directs things from on high, he does not direct from below - at a certain point, I do have almost complete freedom. I'm given a huge sub-branch of the gigantic tree of potential research, and I can do what I want in that sub-branch.

The other thing about working in an industrial lab is this -- let's face it, the economy sucks. Industrial labs of old were basically smart people fucking around the best way smart people know how to and just doing, "what if" type stuff. What was born of that? Um, Unix, awk, sed, C...the TRANSISTOR.....really awesome stuff. But now that the economy sucks, even the amazing industrial labs of old don't really do that anymore. It's much more directed; the hope is eventually what you do will help the company bottom line.

The thing is, I'm kind of fine with that. I personally have never been super comfortable in crazy-out-there research space. If you're making this industrial vs. academic decision, then I'd imagine this is one of the more important factors.

The other thing about working in industry is that I do not have to beg for money. The longer I work, the more I'm pretty excited about that. The more I realize that this is the way to go for me (at least for now). I used to really feel motivated about teaching the next level of students...wanting to do that, but now I just...feel flat in that regard. I am enjoying my job too much to care about that right now.

It all depends on what you care about. Right now, the thought of making up slides for a class, for teaching students, particularly ones who try to grade-monger, the thought of publishing endlessly and writing grants...it makes me tired. It makes me glad I'm not doing that.

There are others, of course, who would chafe under the infrastructure that I am currently under. Their eyes would glaze over when considering the business aspects of their research, the utility for how it would or could actually be deployed, drilling down to the details of making something ACTUALLY happen.

It all really depends on what you would prefer. I'm just laying it out how I see it personally.

I'm happy with my job.

10 comments:

The lab pixie said...

Your job sounds nice. It sounds like the kind of environment I like to think I would flourish in.

Sometimes, when I think about having a job, I'm a little excited :)

Really glad to hear you are enjoying it.

Mrs. CH said...

I'm so so glad you're liking your job!

As you know, DH is in the middle of a job search, and he has a second interview with a place lined up (after we get back from our trip). It is in industry, but is at a research center for a large company. So, it would be interesting to see how it compares to "regular" industry jobs and academia.

Anyway, it sounds like your job is perfect for you, and that's awesome! Please keep posting about it!

Ambivalent Academic said...

IT is just great that things are working out so well for you - sounds like a great fit for you!

ScienceGirl said...

This is very similar to how I feel about my choices after graduation - and I think I will like an environment like yours best. Glad you are enjoying it!

Mrs. Chemist said...

Please keep posting about this! I think there are a lot of us, myself included, who are veering away from the academic pathway and it's great to hear how industry really works. I'm so glad you're liking your job!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Hooray!

Psych Post Doc said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying your job! Sounds like you're really fitting in.

Nicky said...

Industrial labs of old were basically smart people fucking around...

Ah, the good ole days. I so wish I was around for that.....

Glad things are going well!

PhizzleDizzle said...

Thanks guys! I feel sooooo fortunate these days to have gotten a job I like, even in this economy! To think I was STRESSING out just a few months ago! I'm glad those days are gone.

And Nicky - what I wouldn't give to just chill at Bell Labs circa 20-30 years ago....

microbiologist xx said...

Sorry I am so late, but I wanted to add my congratulations to the list! Glad to read all is working out well.