For many of us, grad school immerses us so deeply in first-hand laboratory research that we begin to think that that’s all there is, and when faced with either limited opportunities for postdoctoral and (later) faculty research positions, we become blind to our other options. Others simply want to get out of academia and don’t know where to start. Frankly, this is the situation that I’ve found myself in over the last year, and like everyone, I’ve been learning the job market as I go along.
There are plenty of people out there with brilliant suggestions on what to look for though. Take Suzanne’s post for instance, as to some directions that we as biologists might potentially take. Chris Mooney has suggestions also, for budding scientists to think about much earlier on, especially in undergrad.
The key here is to both develop technical proficiency in a field (and getting published, funded, etc.), AND exploring reality outside of the laboratory. Find out how discoveries or techniques from your field at being applied to the real world. Meet people with similar intellectual backgrounds in the real world, and learn how they are applying their scientific and technical knowledge to their jobs. Set up collaborations with the private sector, and develop concrete applications based on your scientific accomplishments. Write about your academic interests and share that with whomever you can get to listen. And share your CV with anyone and everyone.
… at least that’s what I’ve learned so far. The key here is that science is affecting every aspect of society – business, engineering, law – and facilitating the dramatic social progress that we’ve seen over the past century. This progress wouldn’t be possible without the vast capital investment in ideas, which we call Government Funding of science. These ideas are reshaping the world.
(okay, I’ll get back down off of my pedestal now)