I was. I had too. I was an assistant prof. teaching stimulating courses to good students. We passed some good times in the classroom, lunchroom and, of course, the local bars. There were even a couple of grad students whose research was working out. What’s wrong with this picture? Teaching is great. I really liked it and still do. The problem was that there was no way that tenure was going to happen and there was no way that I was going to move my family to another place far away to pursue “the holy grail.”
So what to do? There are lots of things that a PhD can do. It was before the Internet, so I became an even more avid reader of Sciencemag and the NY Times jobs postings and ads than I had been. I answered every ad that required a PhD, which looked interesting and seemed possible for me to convince someone that I could do – even those that were “a stretch.” The mailbox and the telephone became my best non-human friends (sorry – no email, blackberry or smartphones).
What happened? There were two possibilities. The first was a job in a tertiary care university hospital managing a pathology lab. The hook was that I had taught histology lecture and lab, knew my way around electron microscopy, and my interview with the pathologist who would be my boss went well. I could earn the license that was required while I was on the job.
The second was with a medical device company. At the time it was a Fortune 1000 company. Now it’s bigger. They were looking for a college professor to give lectures on their research, product development, and use to physicians, nurses and techs at hospitals and society meetings. The job requirements? They simply wanted a PhD academic who could deliver interesting, understandable lectures. I learned the details by working with my boss, a PhD who was a marketing manager, and my colleague, the other “scientist lecturer.” They had great new hire and product training.
The key here – for both transitions? My assessment is that there was an overlap in skills, experience and training in both of the offers. Sort of like the intersection of two sets. One was the cell structure background and the other was teaching experience. Each had some common elements with the new experience. Even more basic than transfer of training, isn’t it?
By the way – one of the coolest things about my new job was that from time to time I would meet a doctor in the audience who had been a student of mine when I was a grad teaching assistant. Small world, isn’t it? The next coolest thing about it was touching base with them on the research that gave rise to the stuff that I was talking to them about.
Cheers for now,
Clem Weinberger, PhD
The Stylus Medical Communication