Sunday, July 20, 2008

Help me decide what to do next.....

As regular readers will know, I am coming to the end of a Masters course in Neuroscience at King's College London. And I just can't decide what to do next. Shall I try to stay on in the lab as a PhD student, working hard for long hours, perennially short of money, with an uncertain future at the end of it as a 50-something competing with 20-somethings for my first post-doc position? On the other hand, I would be working on one of two questions in science that really matter - how did the universe begin? and how does the brain work? - all the rest being trivia according to my supervisor Gerald Finnerty. Or shall I try to get a job in bioinformatics? As our knowledge of genetics mushrooms this is a booming field, and one where I might be able to use my 30-years of IT experience. But it could be quite difficult to get that vital first job. Or shall I go back to Egypt? Back to the commercial world of IT - giving up the dream of working in science, but at least earning a decent wage and building up some kind of pension fund so that Sue and I have a chance of retiring some day.

I've put up a poll - please vote, and post a comment as well. Help me to think this through.

6 comments:

Marty said...

I can't bring myself to vote on this one, Peter. I've spoken to you before about this, and I don't envy your trilemma (is that a word?).

I'm sure you'll be happy whatever you decide.

Iain said...

Which option will lead to you playing most games with me?

I voted for getting a job in bioinformatics. Seems like a compromise option that will leverage your strengths, while feeding your soul.

Jack said...

Hiya Peter,

I did a PhD and thoroughly enjoyed it (though I was one of the 20-somethings at the time), so that would be my vote. It all depends on whether you can afford/face living cheaply for a while (or if you can be kept by your wife :-) ).

Cheers,

Jack

Phil said...

Dear Dad

Gut instinct on this one is for you to go for the PHD - I feel like if you don't do this, you'll kind of be rendering the whole adventure to this point a touch pointless. The whole reason for giving up the wage slavery in the first place was for you to genuinely follow a dream. I say it's too early for you to compromise on that just yet.

Then again, I'm earning great money, so it's easy for me to talk...

Nick said...

Well, well, well Peter mi old mucker. Doubts creeping in already. Given that I'm in the middle of a Phd right now and am 40 perhaps I can shed a little light on your dilemma which you can take or leave as you like. Firstly, you left commercial IT for a reason... and a good one, so that's a no-brainer. The difficulty is the choice between a Phd and bioinformatics - both of which are stimulating and will lead you in new directions. The best thing is to go where your heart is - if you're not happy at what you do at your stage of life (har har!!)then there's not a lot of point doing it! However, there's no harm in applying for a Phd and for a job in bioinformatics; there's never a problem in turning down or even postponing a Phd place, and you might find the experience of applying for bioinformatics positions will help get contacts etc.
Anyway, so much for my hapenny worth. Maybe you'll be joining me on the park bench as another over-qualified tramp after all!!

William said...

Regret what you did, not what you didn't.

OK, that might not help so try thinking about which one will help you win whatever game you think you life is emulating at the moment ;)