What have we done to deserve this? It was about a good cause after all…

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No need to be redundant about the serious trouble the world’s economy is going through nowadays. We have heard thousands of times how bad things have become, and how much tougher they might turn into if we follow our current path. If we look around, it shows itself: statistics being the cruelest proof of such reality. However, what are we supposed to do? Are we expected to resign to our future arguing this depression responsible for not being successful? Are we encouraged to blame our parents for having been born in the “wrong” time in history? Do we really want to fall that short and condemn ourselves to such a simplistic, conformist and mediocre thought and/or behaviour?  I cannot content myself with such empty attitude. Happily enough though, I can see many others around me who can’t either.

Speaking of bad times and reality, as a recent graduate of a science program I have been faced with the responsibility of managing my life into the direction of a so-called “career”. Let’s just stop right there! What am I talking about? In a traditional way, starting a career means job hunting for a position that suits your education and experience, applying for as many jobs as possible and begging you get lucky enough to get hired. Sounds about easy, doesn’t it? Now here’s where the two biggest problems of a science soon-to-be worker begin. First and foremost, where are all the good positions? Wait, where are actually any positions? I know many of you might be thinking “wha’s this guy talking about?” Well of course I am conscious about the postings that are up in some of Canada’s most famous job hunting engines –you name them- but have you noticed the frequency with which they’re posted? Compare that to ads being uploaded by hundreds asking for marketing/sales related positions, food and beverage industry, general labourers, etc… We must face that the number one problem in landing your dream job in science is the limited abundance of positions offered. That combined with the overcrowded convocation events at Universities and Colleges across the country makes it an aggressive fight of a myriad of applicants over very few available opportunities. But it’s not only that what’s causing recent science grads so much of a painful experience is the workforce market, there is also an intrinsic problem to science itself. I would like to be very clear about this being true particularly for life-related disciplines as well as those which are “research-prone” such as Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Ecology… hand raised over here! The intrinsic problem is “specificity and degree of expertise”. Yeah, something as simple as that can rule you out of an application simply because you do not have enough knowledge and/or experience in one technique or such other system. While other fields can be seen as more general and where knowledge acquired during university is enough for working for many different employers and positions. Science comes with a higher degree of exclusivity. It is not our fault as recent former students that our theses focused –logically- on a certain number of techniques and approaches. Should we be supermen and superwomen we could learn it all, but so far that dream has not come true. So I crave a “why?” to all employers out there listing so many and so different requirements as part of the experience… are you seriously looking to find someone who knows it all and is able to carry out all you ask successfully? If your answer is yes, look into my eye and tell me that person can be a recent graduate… I doubt it!

hire me please

Possibilities reduced to the limit, picky employers with strict requirements, tons of competence, lack of enough experience, education underestimated… this all looks like we’re paying the price for a capital sin! So I ask myself everyday: is this what I must suffer for choosing to do what I like to do and what I know how to do? I hold no grudges to those who find passion for research and go from bachelor to masters, masters to PhD, PhD to post-doc, post-doc to next post-doc, next post-doc to next next pos-doc and from there to being a Prof/Researcher for the rest of life. That’s totally fine, and I have so many respected close friends and acquaintances in such situation. I believe in the usefulness of basic research and I am convinced people who are passionate about that and want to dedicate all their energy to such activity must do it! However, I refuse to believe we must all follow such way, because that brings along problems like oversaturated educational institutions which are rejecting post-doc fellowships and faculty applications at an alarming rate. So I must rely in the belief that there’s still a chance for us all who want to contribute to applied research either in the public or private sector, but with the clear objective of having our actions produce a short-term impact on society. Isn’t it thrilling to work on some “life-changing” project and see it working “in vivo” and “in situ”? It thrills me!

All this said then, I am here today writing these words just as the beginning of a widespread message for all recent science graduates who would love to land a job in the industry world and make a change in others’ lives.  After all this has always been my drive when I first ever thought I would be involved in science: being able to help my fellows with my knowledge, my discoveries, my initiatives, my passion, my integrity, my wish to improve this world of ours. Would you like to be part of this project? What if we all get together and stand up for ourselves, whatever situation we are in currently, and help each other spread the word about new opportunities, successful strategies, positive networking connections, webinars and hangouts for sharing experiences and perspectives. Let’s work together to make it happen, I am sure this is possible. I believe in the generosity and willingness of people for a good cause. Nothing will stop us guys! Let’s show the world what young scientists can get!

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10 thoughts on “What have we done to deserve this? It was about a good cause after all…

  1. Gareth says:

    Great post!

    I find myself in a similar situation! I am in the process of compiling a document with my experiences, beliefs and what we can do to move forward. I look forward to collaborating and making a strong group of people with the idea of moving forward towards a rewarding career!

    • HDelVe says:

      Thank you so much Gareth!! I am glad you identify with what I write about my personal experience. I am really looking forward to reading your story!! I believe in the usefulness of staying together and working towards the same aim. My wish is to help each other find our path in this field so that we can all put our knowledge to good use and feel good for ourselves for contributing to the well-being of others. Regards!

  2. Mary Pecar says:

    Of course it is competitive our there. A PhD is not meant to be guarantee for a job. Experience counts more than anything and experience in how to handle things that don’t go to your plan is the best. Science experiments never go to plan but that usually means dealing with people who know the scientific process of precise investigation without bias. Industries have to deal with stock exchanges and market jitters that don’t folloe any scientific process but follow hunch and human emotion. This is very hard to predict just as it is to forecast the weather and other events but this time it involves humans that have evolved to follow trends and are difficult to brand them and become loyal to the brand. Google do a good job of it and some may argue that they play mind games to entice you into their web of products you think are so called free but, hey they are providing products that people really want not drugs that take years to invest in and develop and years to recoup the investment. I’m not suprised that Buotech Companies are choosy. They are under a lot of pressure to find scientists that think outside the comfort of precision and true science in the laboratory setting and network and can contend with the uncertainty of the crazy demands of unpredicable comsumers. Scientific investigation is easy by comparison. It is like dealing with a group of tenacious toddlers all wanting something they desire that is not always the same at a cost that is cheap and unsustainable, who are likely to change their mind and go with another brand for a good and service other than yours but a competitors. Apple vs Android a fine example. Swiss analogue watches vs Digital watches and watches vs mobile phones. Who needs a watch anymore? Yes a PhD is not always a competitive advantage in the workforce but knowledge and most importantly experience in the implementation process of business and engineering mechanical or psychological actions of a process that work at the pilot plant or marketing model but also succeed in the market for long enough to build a sustainable brand that works globally is as difficult or maybe more so, than discovering the Boson Higgs particle. Uncertainty is inevitable!!

  3. Amber says:

    Your post really rings true to me. I do think ‘something’ should be figured out in regards to all of us non-PhD but still science-oriented graduates. I have so much I want to learn and contribute but whether it be a private or public institution, it always seems to come back to money…

  4. gracedickins says:

    I live in the UK and have just graduated with a degree in Environmental Science, and I am equally struggling to find a relevant job like you. In fact most of my friends have decided to prolong the problem of lack of jobs by doing a master. The rest of us are just sitting here unemployed, trying to get any old job as we have almost given up on getting one in the relevant sector. However, a few of us have set up a blog on environmental affairs that we write on in our spare time as an outlet for our passion on the subject. Shameless promotion alert, it can be found here: fightingthebiocrisis.wordpress.com. I agree with you guys, as long as we fight for what we love, we are hopefully helping others.

    • HDelVe says:

      Hello Grace!! So sorry for the delay, I have not been able to catch up with my blog as I should have. I understand and share de frustration you and your colleagues are going through as it is the same over here. It looks and feels unfair and disappointing since getting such degrees takes so much effort, money and time. I think the governments should invest much more in placing people with knowledge and desire to change things for the better. But as always, everything revolves around money. It’s sad, but real. As you say as we help each other find our paths, we will be helping others. As scientists I believe it’s our responsibility to help improve other people’s lives. Thanks so much for your comment! Let’s keep up to date about how we do in our job hunting and career development : )

    • HDelVe says:

      Agree Alex. Even then it turns out to all depend on the networking. I’ve seen people who branded themselves very well be rejected inexplicably, while way less qualified candidates with “contacts” land good positions. It’s all the same ironic stuff in this world. Thanks so much for the comment!

    • HDelVe says:

      Thank you buddy! Opportunities are out there, undoubtedly, though it’s how we play if we’ll get them or not. And playing nowadays have become an art, and that’s how it is increasingly more difficult to satisfy all aspects of the “employment demands”. Hopefully things get better in the short term. What kind of opportunities are getting to you? Would you like to share some more insights? Thanks! Regards : )

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