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Any advice?

Sci Nai

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I have a bit of a dilemma - I am currently semi-employed and having difficultly finding full-time employment. Late last year I finally submitted my PhD thesis (I took far too long to write it, it was so hard to force myself to write it!). Now I would like to begin a research fellowship in the area of chemistry/mass spectrometry. Recently I submitted a fellowship application, however, yesterday I found out that I was unsuccess (10 fellowships, 160 applicants, ouch!). Anyway, now I am really confused with what I should do. The problem is that there are jobs out there that I really don't want. For example, I could probably get a job as a service engineer/sales or some job running samples on a mass spectrometer. Unfortunately though, I think I would be terrible in such positions. It might sound strange but I hate doing experiments. I like to plan experiments, analyse results, come up with knew ideas etc., I procrastinate like mad when it comes to doing experiments (except when I have a good idea and want to find out if I'm right). So ultimately, I want to be in control on what I research and I don't want to do someone else's research (not good for either of us). I believe I have a lot to give in this area (I have developed several methods and have a patent...), but it's hard to do anything without money.

Last night while searching for jobs I came across two positions for severe storm research. My first feeling was wow, that's perfect (I love analysing thunderstorms afterall - I'm also in the process of writing a paper on a new method). The problem is that I have no formal qualifications in this area so I probably won't get it.

So what do I do? Keep plugging away to get a research position developing mass spectrometry techniques (or whatever I find interesting), go back and get some formal qualifications in meteorology? Or do I say "stuff it" and go away to do something completely different (like go overseas and teach English! - even though I am pretty poor at English)?
 
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Considered teaching in the meantime?

This is a relatively common issue for PhD graduates, it probably helps to just start somewhere small/familiar.

Also I'm wondering if you've ever worked at a minimum wage type job? Not to shit all over your dreams, but be a little realistic - the jobs you can get as a PhD are much better than not. They might not be your dream job, however they're still good.

You also have another 30-40 years of life ahead of you in academia, so it isn't like the road has ended. Try not to get caught up in, 'this is not the absolute dream career I want' - no one really gets that. No matter what you do, you're going to have days you want to be somewhere else, and have to deal with crap. The key is to make the most of your opportunities. Don't pass good things up just because they aren't perfect.
 

Sci Nai

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Thanks redbaron, that sounds like quite sensible advice. I might have to lower my standards and realise that a couple of years isn't really that long in the scheme of things. I just find it hard to accept that I am "suitable" to do biomedical research, for example, but I am not suitable to analyse severe storms by radar. I think working for a mass spec company on developing instrumentation/applications would be interesting, however, no such positions exist in Australia. Maybe the smart thing for me to do is to go overseas, but I'd rather not have to move to get a job.

I have done some demonstrating recently, I guess I can try to pursue this line of work for now. And yes, I have done minimum wage work. Years ago I worked in Kmart and also have done pizza delivery. Honestly, I didn't mind packing shelves or zipping around delivering pizzas.
 

The Gopher

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You are still applying for the storms job right? Let them know in your application you are writing a new method and maybe you will stand out from every guy that has a degree in the area.
 

Sci Nai

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I guess I can try, I did email them today actually. Unfortunately he said that several people with experience in radar meteorology have already inquired, not good news for me. I didn't mention the method I am working on though. Hell, there's the possiblity that once I publish it that I could get funding to pursue this further......
 

Sci Nai

Redshirt
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Haha, I like that one.

To add to my bad-news week, a paper I submitted a few months ago got rejected. First time it has happened to me. A few of their points are valid, others I disagree with. To be honest, I was very surprised to have this rejected, I think it is really interesting stuff! It all comes down to a disagreement on one major point - their alternative proposal doesn't fit the evidence.....Oh well.
 

Sci Nai

Redshirt
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Okay.......there's a job that might be suitable for me, however, it is in England (Oxford) and only a one year contract. In addition, it has a more biological focus which I have want to more away from. I personally don't like the idea of moving such a long way for a one year contract. Although, being a short contract has the advantage of not being locked in a location too long if I don't quite like the working/living experience.

Last year I applied for a job at the Max Planck Institute (Germany). I got an interview but I got nervous and didn't pursue it. I know for my career that I really should go for such opportunities. I find it hard to commit to such an arrangement though, especially when I don't know the person I will be working for.....
 

Sci Nai

Redshirt
Local time
Today, 17:56
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
13
As my father used to say "When you get hungry enough, you'll know what to do."
I have been thinking about this saying recently and I wonder whether part of my problem is having too much money. That's not to say I am rich, but I saved up some money while working full-time and therefore I can live quite comfortably now. I don't have mortgage repayments to worry about either. So maybe I have to use up all more money before that motivation really kicks in.
 
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