In keeping with this week's unofficial theme of wibbling about academia, there's an article at The Nation about the evils of graduate school that's prompted some discussion. Sean says more or less what I would, though maybe a little more nicely than I would.
I wouldn't bother to comment further, except this spurred Sean to solicit career advice for scientists looking to leave the academic track. Which reminded me that a couple of years ago, I did a bloggy Project for Non-Academic Science (name chosen to have the same acronym as a prestigious journal, because it amused me to do so), where I solicited personal stories of careers outside the normal academic track, and posted them here.
Since it's been a couple of years, and that was fun the first time around, let's bring that back around. So, consider this an open request for information:
If you have a degree in science, and a career outside of academia that makes use of your science background, and would be willing to share your story with blog readers, send me email at the address in the "Contact" tab at the top of this page.
The process is very simple: you email me, I'll send you a short list of questions, you send me your answers, and I'll post them here with minimal editing. The resulting profiles can serve as a sort of informal career guide for science majors wondering what to do with their lives.
A few definitions and disclaimers:
1) By "science degree," I mean any degree from a BA on up through a Ph.D., with a major field that would generally be recognized as a science. The goal is to be inclusive, here.
2) By "makes use of your science background," I have in mind something where the actual science content of your degree comes into play, not subsidiary skills like experience with computers or the ever-popular "critical thinking." Again, this is pretty flexible.
3) "Non-Academic" here means "Not a college or university professor or equivalent." Jobs at academic institutions that are not part of the "Traditional" career track for scientists (student, grad student, post-doc, professor) are fine. Again, this is pretty flexible.
4) I'll try to do as little editing as possible on these-- basically, just adding the necessary HTML to make them look nice on the blog. I'm happy to share pictures and links as well, within reason, if you send them to me. If I think something is really inappropriate, I may ask you to revise it, or edit it out myself.
5) If you prefer to remain pseudonymous or anonymous, we can probably accomodate that. If you prefer not to name your specific employer, but want to talk about your general field, that's fine, too.
I think that's all the quasi-official stuff. So, if you've got a science background and an interesting job, let me know.
Does stay-at-home-dad count as a non-academic use of my MS in EE? My 8-year-olds and 5-year-old have a fairly solid layman's grasp of newtonian motion, relativity, and cosmology. But the quantum stuff just baffles them. (Though I guess Feynman might have said in that case they're getting it.)
I used to be an environmental consultant with my B.Sc. Biology.
Chad, what fraction of your PhD class is now a tenured professor?
I would count untenured research professors, especially those on soft-money, as NOT the equivalent of faculty.
The article in The Nation was written by a former Yale English professor who is in his late 40s, not a scientist.