Name: Jessica Wright
Job: Research Editor at SFARI
Source: Scilingual [original post from March 2013]
I probably had a good sense by the end of my PhD that the academic path wasn’t right for me, but I was ambivalent about leaving. I had put so much into academia that leaving felt like failure. Also, I really had no idea what else to do. My lab had been through some tough times (my advisor didn’t get tenure and the lab had to move) and I didn’t know how much of what I felt was related to that. So I did a postdoc.
After a year in that position, when I loved the lab and the research but it still didn’t feel right, I knew it was time to leave. That was just when the stock market crashed and most of my friends in “real jobs” were being laid off, so I hunkered down in academia a little while longer.
In retrospect, if I had been able to find better information about “alternative” careers when I first considered leaving, I probably would not have done the second postdoc. My advice is to listen to your doubts. I don’t regret the time, but I did not need three more years in a lab.