Managing Expectations

Subtleties of the Crappy Job Market for Scientists

However, difficulty finding a “long term academic position” is not the same thing as difficulty finding a job. Buried in those same articles is the fact that the unemployment rate for physicists (which likely mirrors that of astronomers) is between 1-2%. In contrast, the lab-based biologists and chemists (which are the focus of the articles) are not finding employment at all, or if they do, it’s frequently in a position that makes no use of their technical skills.

The problem in astronomy and physics is therefore not employment, but expectations.

[S]tudents should never be made to feel that they’re failures for not getting a particular flavor of academic position, and should instead always be encouraged to explore other avenues that could use their talents while bringing them greater day-to-day satisfaction.

Ah, someone who gets it. And by gets it, I really mean “agrees with me” and I’m applying a little confirmation bias, but I do find fault with the argument put forth by others that not finding a faculty position is proof (in and of itself) that we have an overabundance of PhDs. And I’m also much more familiar with the lay of the land in physics than with biology or chemistry.

As the post points out, some skills transfer well; technical competence and attention to detail are in wider demand than just the sciences, and I can’t imagine these are not part of biology or chemistry skill sets.

2 thoughts on “Managing Expectations

  1. Personnel/Human Resources/Human Factors Engineering is frat boy paranoiacs hiring drinking buddies. The only trusted employee is one whose sole marketable asset is loyalty. Rather than foster brilliance we allocate for its suppression, for second rate people hire third rate people, and on down (explaining government).

    On the up side, if you label your pretentious curriculum vitae “CV,” there is little chance it will be mistaken for “cyclic voltammetry” (platinum wire, hanging mercury drop, or glassy carbon). If you wish employment, begin with your golf handicap and single malt scotch collection.

  2. Thanks for the link. I think you’re spot on. Much of the rending of garments in the field of chemistry (my field) is by those who feel that a degree entitles them to either a tenure-track academic career or a very secure industry job.

    The idea that you can get a job outside of chemistry (or whatever science you specialized in) with your skills is anathema to them. Because they do not see a want ad for a non-chemistry position that says “degree in chemistry needed” they don’t think the possibility exists.

Comments are closed.