What if?

What would doing research be like if I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I was ever going to graduate?

What would it be like to be in a lab and know, if it all went pear-shaped, I could quit without losing everything I had worked for the last 8 years?

Would a string of experimental failures be as crushing as it once was if I was actually sane and had a good support system?

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Hello?  Anyone out there?  It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything at all here, that I’m not sure anyone is paying attention.  Actually, it’s been so long since I had anything to do with this blog and the email address that is associated with it that I had trouble logging into both accounts and had to prove to Google and WordPress that, yes, indeed, I am the owner of these accounts that have been dormant for so long.

It would be difficult to tell you everything that has happened in the past couple of years in one post and I’m not sure it would be particularly helpful or interesting.  The short answer is that I’ve been staying home with my daughter, Monkey, volunteering in certain places, teaching some at home science classes, and trying to figure out what to do with my life when/if Monkey starts preschool.  I will want/need to re-enter the workforce at that point but the question is, what sort of work will I do?  What do I want to do?

Among other things, I’ve been considering looking for a lab job.  Not a post-doc, some sort of senior technician/lab manager sort of job.  Something 9-5 with benefits.  Does such a thing even exist for people with a PhD?  I dunno.  Do I really want to go back to that life?  I dunno.  Although, I’m starting to realize that, in fact, it wouldn’t be going back to the kind of life I experienced in grad school.  The stakes are different and not nearly as high.  And, frankly, I care less about what people think of me and my intelligence.  I’m not sure when that happened or why.  I suppose graduating helped me with that, in a way.  It’s not like top tier schools hand out PhDs like candy, I must possess a fair amount of intelligence and tenacity or I wouldn’t have graduated.  What I forgot while I was there was that I always had that intelligence and tenacity or I never would have gotten in the program in the first place.

So, what would research be like without the constant pressure to prove myself, the overwhelming loneliness and desire to just finish already so I can get on with my life?  Maybe it would still suck.  But, maybe, it might be interesting or even fun.  It might be worth trying to find out.

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5 thoughts on “What if?

  1. Hi! I was wondering what you were up to a few weeks ago. I’m glad to see you blogging. I don’t know what it would be like to do research without the “OMG everything hangs in the balance feel” (I’m still in a postdoc), but I’d imagine it would be nice.

  2. I’m still subscribed, and happy to see a post from you pop up in my reader. Your second-to-last paragraph sounds like exactly where I’ve been at after finishing my PhD last summer. I happened to go for a teaching (non-TT) job, but I was simultaneously looking at technician/engineer type work (and am about to go through the process again as family constraints will likely necessitate a move). It does exist for sure, maybe not in every subfield but certainly does for someone with a background in cell biology. One category of places I would suggest is companies that sell lab equipment. They are looking to hire people who understand what researchers are doing with the stuff they sell, who can give technical advice to customers about what products they should use/how/why. They’re also looking for people who can help develop new and useful things relevant to cutting-edge research. In other words, PhDs are valued.

  3. I’m a grad student and I so understand what you’re saying! All the things you describe sound too familiar. Good luck!

  4. I am in the exact same position! Did my PhD, then 3 years of postdoc… and now I am really wondering what I can do and what I want to do… we will figure it out!

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