Careers in Microbiology\

A.Ferszt a.ferszt at nospam.ic.ac.uk
Fri Oct 9 16:44:43 EST 1998

Karl Roberts wrote:
> I've been reading this current line of discussion, and it sounds
> extremely depressing.  While still working on my Ph.D. I had a class
> with a professor who had taken many postdoc positions before finally
> landing his university job, and the bitterness associated with that
> experience was very evident.  He admonished all of us not to complete
> our degrees, but to instead actively pursue positions in areas outside
> of academia.  I, however, had no intention of giving up all of the years
> of work and hoop-jumping it had taken just to get where I wanted to be,
> so I continued.  I am now a professor at a community college which has
> an enrollment of about 35,000, I have participated in several grants, I
> do have research facilities should I choose to use them, and have
> continued to develop professionally although I am not employed by a
> major research university.  There are many talented Ph.D.s and ABDs out
> there who would benefit and provide a great service to academia by
> considering getting a start in smaller colleges, two-year institutions,
> and technical colleges.  Pay is generally equivalent to what one would
> expect from a university, but the "paper mill" atmosphere doesn't exist,
> so there is no pressure to publish or perish.  Also, the young professor
> can hone his or her teaching skills, something which I have found lacking
> in all but the most dedicated educators at the big schools.  After all,
> many of the students at these smaller, often unfairly maligned
> institutions go on to universities, while others enter careers in the
> health professions and other areas which directly impact the well-being
> of all of us.  Considering enlightened self-interest, don't we owe it to
> ourselves and them to see to it that they are capable when they leave us?
> After all, most of them will make more than we do, and some may treat
> US in the future.  Without college students, higher education ceases to
> exist.  The experience a young professor will get teaching at a smaller
> institution will only enhance his or her skills and make the likelihood
> of landing the dream job a bit more probable.
> Cheers,
> Karl J. Roberts, Ph.D.
> Prince George's Community College

Good for you! You are exactly right! We were warned as undergraduates
that very few of us could expect to have permanent positions in science.
So I was never fussed about constantly renewing contracts.

Quite honestly there are not many dream jobs going in science anyway.
There is nothing the least bit 'second string' about working in a
smaller 'less prestigious' institution. I've been fortunate in that my
career has been spent in 'name-brand' places, but it was the politics
and paperwork that eventually led me to say 'not again'.

It's unfortunate that many universities just don't tell the students
what they can realistically expect. Things are different now than in our
professors' day.

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