A grad student, a post-doc, and a professor are walking through a city park and they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke.
The Genie says, “I usually only grant three wishes, so I’ll give each of you just one.”
“Me first! Me first!” says the grad student. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat with a gorgeous woman who sunbathes topless.” Poof! He’s gone.
“Me next! Me next!” says the post-doc. “I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with a professional hula dancer on one side and a Mai Tai on the other.” Poof! He’s gone.
“You’re next,” the Genie says to the professor.
The professor says, “I want those guys back in the lab after lunch.”
There’s some reality behind that humor, albeit less extreme than the joke of course. This is a fairly common mindset in academia. However, industry has it’s own boss-related challenges. You still have a boss who wants to keep your productivity high, although you still look forward to those vacations.
But I’m finding that working in industry is growing on me. I get to leave my work at work, and just forget about it. And I have a reliable income, not having to live from grant to grant.
It’s also sort of what I was forced into. Living in a small Mediterranean country (Cyprus) with a small research infrastructure, I consistently got the response from heads of laboratories that “I’d love to hire you, but I don’t have enough funding.” Getting involved as a microbiological analyst at a pharmaceutical factory has been the best opportunity to a solid career, and the chance to support a family.
What do you think about the challenges of working in academia vs industry?