-written by Axon-
I’m becoming a statistic.
I don’t think my reasons for leaving academia are accurately described in this recent Atlantic article, or really in USA Today either, but I can say they are ‘family related.’ I suppose I’m opting out when my kids are still young, so in a way, I fit the stereotype.
For me, the decision was about having choices for my kids in what schools they attend in an expensive part of the country with dismal public school options. I just can’t afford to live on a post-doc’s salary and give my boys the life I want for them. Move! You must be thinking. More ‘family related’ reasons take that possibility off the table. So, industry here I come.
I’ve been talking about making the switch for about six months now, but have only really started applying for actual jobs in the past month. I would not describe myself as ‘overly confident’ by any stretch, but I have to admit that I’m surprised that I haven’t been called for a single interview.
I find this process like starting over as a grad student in some ways. I don’t know who to ask questions, what the next steps are or what is the most efficient way to get what I want. This is disorienting for me. I’ve been the single post doc in the lab for the past few years and have become the ‘go-to’ person for questions and advice. I know the ins and outs of all of the techniques that we use, how to trouble-shoot, design good experiments, and have better than average analysis skills. In short: I feel competent.
Applying for nonacademic jobs has thrown me out of my comfort zone. I know that getting my PhD and working as a post doc have given me skills, but how to translate them into what employers will care about? I’m curious whether my reaction is a typically female one (the feeling of incompetence while switching to something new) or whether my male friends are just better at hiding it. The men I’ve known that have gone into industry have always appeared like they’d known they might make the switch one day. They just finally decided. No fear, no second-guessing their skills.
For now, I try to channel that kind of confident go-for-broke attitude as I doggedly continue forward. Spiffing up my cover letter, tweaking my resume, sending applications into the ether, hoping that the phone call will come to send me to the next phase of this scary endeavor. Interviews.