It may come as a surprise to some people that know me that I’m contemplating a career change. I currently do biomedical research (prostate cancer specifically) and ever since high school I’ve been on a research track.
Since high school I’ve wanted to study sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell runs in my family. My mother, 3 brothers and sister all have the trait. I also have a couple of cousins who actually have sickle cell. In 2004 when I started my first year of grad school I was devastated to find that there were no basic research labs that studied sickle cell anemia. I ended up in a prostate cancer lab and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience to the point where I’ve gone on to study it during my postdoctoral work.
I’ve contemplated a career change because I’m tired of the politics involved in research. With national funding cuts across the board to all types of research it’s become ultra-competitive to get grants. Not only research money but job security and salary are tied to how much funding you can obtain. I’ve seen how stressed my PI (principle investigator) gets when writing grants and I don’t think the pay is comparable to our level of education (a PhD is the highest degree attainable).
This brings me back to my career change. I no longer wish to be a principle investigator running my own laboratory. The other day I got a career analysis link from GemOfTheOcean. After answering about 100+ questions it was no surprise that the career at the very bottom of the list was principle investigator. Towards the top of the list was teaching. Both as a professor and K-12. I wasn’t surprised by this at all. I love teaching.
While in grad school I taught general chemistry to undergrad students who were interested in pursuing medical and dental school. At first it can be daunting to stand in front of a room of 40 people and talk for two hours. I also tutored math and science at the local community college. There is no feeling more rewarding than transferring your knowledge base to another person and seeing the look of comprehension on their face.
Some people reading this may know that my new career goal is to open my own STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) school for minority inner city kids. I don’t think that science and math are stressed enough to our children which is why we’re falling so far behind the rest of the world and other races. This also explains how I can be the only black person in my department of over 100 people.
I know to fulfill my dream I’m going to need more experience than a few summers teaching and tutoring. This is why after this postdoctoral appointment I’ll be searching for tenure-track professor jobs.
As far as your career are you happy where you are and where you see yourself going? What are you doing today to change that and ensure you have a career that you enjoy versus having a job?