About a year and a half ago, still in the pursue of a PhD degree in spite of numerous set-backs instigating me to basically start my main PhD project all over again, I started to wonder what the h*** I am doing here. After all, I knew from the start that lab work is not for me. I got good at it, because I spent a lot of time doing it, but it is definitely not for me.
As you can see above, I’m currently flying out of the lab towards my new career!
So what was I thinking getting in to this in the first place?
Well, for me it was all the rest that enticed me to pursue a PhD; my curiosity for science and new knowledge in general, the analytical thinking in hypothesizing how something works, the strategizing in how to best prove the hypothesis, the organization in managing my own projects and the creativity in how to best share my knowledge and discoveries with the world. I love to learn, read, write, strategize and organize and I like to communicate knowledge and thought that a career as a researcher was the perfect path for me. Reading a lot of scientific articles, always learning new things, writing grant proposals, discussing science with collaborating researchers and teaching science classes sounded like a perfect match.
I just had to get through some years of lab work first…
But the years went on and on and I had not anticipated just how much lab work there would actually be. At the same time, a career in research constantly begging for money, without security and forever staying close to the laboratory environment, seemed less and less appealing. About 6 months after starting over my main project basically from scratch for the third or fourth time, I begun to lose my steam and started to think hard about what to really do next.
I always figured I would go back to the US where I previously lived for 3 years, for a postdoc. It took me over 6 months of constantly thinking about this to realize I just simply did not want to do a post doc. Or perhaps more accurately, to admit this to myself. Deciding that the end of my PhD would be the end of lab work for me lifted a tremendous weight from my shoulders and I experienced a short period of great relief and satisfaction.
Until I realized I had no idea what to do instead!
Followed did another 6+ months of soul searching, during which I amongst other things conducted a number of on-line personality and job suitability tests and found out that I am creative and business minded. I annoyed the hell out my boyfriend whom I forced to listen to me reciting all of my test results and tell me what he thought was accurate and what not. I also made him take the tests himself so that I could read his results and see how well I thought they fit, as a control to my own tests. Simultaneously, I started running across town to all of the KI Career services and “PhD careers beyond academia club” events available and reading hundreds of job ads. After doing so, I finally realized that my true passion for science is in scientific communications and I decided that this is what my future career will entail.
My next now ongoing step is to find out what job possibilities there are and narrow down what in this area I want to do. As I love writing and am sure that I am not the only confused PhD student out there trying to figure out where to go next, I decided to share my investigations on careers in scientific communications with all of you, through the KI Career Blog. My future blog posts will focus on various potential careers within scientific communication, such as; Medical Writer, Scientific journalist, Communications officer, Grant advisor and Medical Science Liaison.
So if you too are confused about your future career and you have an interest in science and communication, follow my blog posts over the next few months. Share your own career confusion story in the comments, I would love to hear about it!
I also welcome any suggestions for science communications careers you wish me to investigate. Leave a comment below!
// Jessica Norberg – about to switch research on communication between pancreatic tumor cells and their microenvironment, for a career in scientific communications.