Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Are You Going To Do?

My advisor asked, in passing, what my post-dissertation plans were. Do I have any idea what I want to do? I was spared from having to answer then by the seminar she was on her way to attend. But I know I'll have to have an answer sooner rather than later. My advisor didn't blink at the notion of me doing 3 more studies and finishing up my dissertation in the next year, which means it would almost be time to start applying to academic jobs.

I know I don't want to be a "real" professor. The 2-hour lab meeting we had discussing the 3rd round of submissions to get the lab funded drove that home. I know I'm capable of pulling together diverse research ideas and connecting them into a fascinating series of questions someone will agree is worth funding - but I don't want to. I don't want to have to do it on demand, I don't want to feel the pressure of getting funded to continue my career.

The first alternative is teaching. I like designing presentations and activities and assignments; I even like grading them, somewhat. But as I was just reminded today, in reading "Charlie's" comments on ScienceWoman's blog about teaching, my experience of the teaching field is limited. My students know I'm a student myself, and that I'm not seeing much of their tuition money; I also only have to deal with two small sections of one class, not a real teaching load. I never considered it to be a glamorous job, but I'm not all that sure I can handle dealing with adolescents for a living.

The second alternative is the non-academic route. Here the challenge is that there are just too many options, and I have no idea how to go about finding them. I don't know; what else would you I with a PhD? And do I really want to 9-5 job with no semester breaks? Fortunately, I have a chance to get some more information. The author of "So what are you going to do with that?" is leading a seminar on non-academic careers, which I am about to go attend. Perhaps it will show me a new career path. Perhaps it will convince me that the hassles of teaching aren't as bad as the hassles of the corporate world.

Perhaps I will just move back in with my father after I graduate...

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