So, guys, what should I do with my life? Or more specifically, where should I be looking to work for the next couple of years?
I spoke to my Überboss last week, and he said I'm infinitely employable. Now this is partly just Überboss D's usual over-enthusiasm. But working on the assumption that I'm highly employable as a post-doc in a biosciences, particularly cancer or drug development related field, where should I apply?
If you happen to know something about good places to do bioscience post-docs, then great! But I'd also like suggestions on where I should aim for geographically. I can pretty much be anywhere in the (first) world. I'm sort of leaning towards continental Europe, but not ruling out Canada, Australia, the anglophone parts of the Far East, Israel, or I could possibly be persuaded to stay in the UK. I probably am ruling out the USA, but I'm open to argument on that score. And yes, getting to live near cool people does count as an argument.
I know nothing of bioscience, but you could perhaps ask sphyg Thanks for that suggestion! Amusingly, although I haven't actually met sphyg, I'm multiply connected to her at a couple of degrees of separation (and that's without counting LJ).
The thing is, I have no shortage of biologists to ask for careers advice. Indeed, I have already had this discussion with several of them. The gap I'm hoping to plug by this post is advice from people who know me and who have a range of geographical perspective. LJ is good for connecting to people from all over!
First, this page gives a decent overview of the universities in the country, with links to uni websites. Not all places will have a biology dept (eg, Eindhoven University of Technology, I'm guessing), but I think almost all of the older ones do.
Secondly, this page lists the research groups in Biology at RijksUniversiteit Groningen, where I'll be studying. Yea, I'm just spamming it here because - well, it's my uni, no-one's complete without some bias in their lives!
I can't speak for the "living near cool people" bit as I don't know very many people in .nl yet. However, life in the Netherlands, contrary to stereotype, varies a lot depending on where you are. In any university town you'll find lots of non-Dutch people, and thus many who speak really good English. In terms of Groningen, there's a great atmosphere all the time, but a big downside is that it takes ages to get anywhere else in the country.
Hm, that's about all I can come up with at the moment...but ask any questions if you like/can't find an answer somewhere else and I'll do my best :)
Thank you so much, this is absolutely wonderful and just the kind of thing I needed! I'm actually thinking very seriously about Holland cos it's more anglophone than most of Europe, and not ridiculously far away from my UK friends, and the whole liberal politics thing appeals. So yes, I may well find myself picking your brains on the subject a bit further down the line, if you don't object.
Do! You're more than welcome to, and I'm glad I can be of help.
There used to be a flight fom Groningen to Stansted, but that ended at the end of April.
I'm sure that most universities' webpages will have English versions, but if in doubt, again feel free to ask and I will get my fully-automated-and-interactive-bilingual dictionary (aren't boyfriends great ;)) to translate anything. There's an email address on my info page, and I tend to lurk on lazynet, so you can always pop into #linguaphiles and leave me a message there too.
It doesn't really matter whether the government represents the state of the country, or how many people agree with its policies. The government still has power to mess up people's lives.
For example, on a purely practical level it's expected that getting a visa which would allow me to work will take around a year. I can't afford to live in America for a year with no job while I deal with the bureaucracy, and the other alternatives are not much better. It's not a matter of 'I don't like George Bush so I don't want to post-doc in America'; it's rather more complicated than that.
I hoped that me and Adam J and Darcy were powerful arguments, between us. I'd love to live near you (and New Adam would be a bonus for sure). Geography means I can't live near Darcy as well (simply being in the same country as cool people isn't an argument, it would have to be actually near). And indeed, being near you is a very strong positive in favour of the US. It's just that it's weighed against a lot of very strong negatives, I'm afraid.
The visa thing is pissy; would it really take that long? Even if you had a lawyer? To be entirely honest, your experience with US immigration is not exactly inspiring! But Überboss D says you have to reckon on at least a year and that's assuming that you're applying via an institution who know what they're doing.
Canada's not too far away though, at least parts of it. I'd like to be in Canada. Although I've never actually been to Canada, I've heard lots of favourable things about it. And I don't think I'd want to live in the parts of it that are really far away from you.
There are a lot of arguments against it. It's partly politics, but also a lot of practical considerations. Things like general standard of living; I'm really concerned about living in a country without automatic access to healthcare, for example. If Bush loses the coming election (which isn't really going to happen soon enough for me to make decisions, by the way), I shall be slightly more favourably inclined towards the US, but there's still lots of considerations that still apply.
Everything I've heard about science there is that it's ridiculously over-competitive and that inhuman hours are pretty much the norm for post-docs. And it is that much harder to get the really outstanding places even if I'm prepared to have no life outside the lab for the next couple of years. I'd rather be at a top European institute than a second-rate American one, basically, and I think the former is more attainable for various reasons.
I think we get a better deal as UK-based PhD students and postdocs. As PhD students almost certainly. 3-4 years of research against 5-6 years of taking classes, doing departmental grunt work and fitting in a bit of research in between is no contest as far as I'm concerned. As postdocs I'm not sure; I think it depends what you want out of the system. American postdocs are (on average) better paid and have a better chance of getting permanent positions sooner.
are there any seior scientist personalities you find really inspiring?
i think the first postdoc is often the stage of one's career where the big "do i want to continue" question is answered, and i think nowdays people tend to underestimate the importance of *who* they are working with/for. a really amazing person would be worth your going to their country to work with them.
are there any seior scientist personalities you find really inspiring? That's a really good idea, thanks. There are two problems with this approach though: the first is that after doing my PhD with my childhood hero, it's hard to imagine how anyone else could match up. But more seriously, most of the people I've come into contact with in the past three years in order to be impressed with them are directly in the same field, and I'm really aiming to move sideways a bit so I can broaden my experience at this stage.
i think the first postdoc is often the stage of one's career where the big "do i want to continue" question is answered I'm pretty certain I want to continue. I can't imagine any other job that would suit me as well as lab science. Now, maybe I'll get disillusioned somewhere down the line, who knows? But I'm as certain as it's reasonably possible to be that this is what I want to do with my life.
i think nowdays people tend to underestimate the importance of *who* they are working with/for. This is a very good point, and one I will be thinking seriously about in my decision making process.
a really amazing person would be worth your going to their country to work with them. Yes, definitely. It's finding the really amazing person that's my problem at the moment. I mean, hell, if I thought I had a reasonable chance of getting a position with Kim Nasmyth I'd jump at it, even though Vienna is not high on my list of ideal places to live. But he's really an international superstar (even more so than my current boss) and he's the director of an institute, so working for him might be less than ideal even assuming he'd give my CV a second glance.
Personally I'm trying to get everyone to move to Birmingham. This is of course extremely selfish; I'm not even sure there are post-docs you'd want to do in Brum, but if there were, I'm there, and I think I count as a cool person. Or how abour Cambridge, to be near pseudomonas?
I'm not even sure there are post-docs you'd want to do in Brum There probably are; I believe there's a decent cancer institute there. But if I'm going to stay in the UK after all I can easily think of nicer places than Birmingham, sorry.
I'm there, and I think I count as a cool person. Yay, you do indeed. The thing about Birmingham is that if I end up anywhere in the UK, certainly anywhere in England, I can probably reasonably get there and get to see you. So you're one among many arguments for staying in this country.
Or how abour Cambridge, to be near pseudomonas? I'd also be uncomfortably near my parents if I did that... No, seriously, ending up in Cambridge (or preferably Oxford, given the choice) would not at all be a bad thing, but I don't think it would be the most helpful at this stage in my career. I don't have enough clout yet to get much out of Cambridge; I'd be very small fry there, so I'd rather be somewhere where they're going to be impressed with me.
Aww, *hug*, that's a very sweet suggestion. I don't really have the skills to do actual animal work myself, but it's pretty impossible to work on cancer without being more or less directly connected to animal experiments. In some ways I'd quite like to do something a bit less cancer related than what I'm doing right now; animal experiments are part of the reason for that.
The difficulty is that I have skills in cancer research and drug development, and that's also where most of the money and resources are. But other things being equal, I'd rather do basic work on microorganisms.
Micro-organisms are the way to go, clearly. Don't get too overexcited! I didn't say prokaryotes. I'm much more likely to end up with yeast or dicty than bacteria. Mind you, you're working on yeasties yourself right now, and you're moving on to *gasp* humans, so maybe you're getting less prejudiced.