One of the graduate students two years ahead of me went to an interview with Genenetech and it was a big deal. I remember everyone talking about it because most of the other students just went right into an academic postdoc.
Very few ever interviewed with a big company. Sure, a lot of students sent resumes to big companies, but that was all they did. They’d post their resumes on a few company websites and then give up after not hearing back.
Academia Or Industry, Are There Only Two Options?
I had no idea how to get a job my last year of graduate school. No idea. The entire process was like a black box to me. I remember asking my advisor for suggestions and getting turned down cold. He told me he didn’t have any business contacts. Which was true. He’d worked in academia his whole life. But then he told me that leaving academia meant I was a failure. This wasn’t true. Still, it made me feel even more lost. It also made me feel insecure. As a result, I shrunk back and never asked for his help again. Instead of resolving the conflict, I hid from it.
Looking back, I can see my biggest problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted. In my mind, there were only two career options: academia or industry. These options were too broad and cumbersome for me to really understand. Since I didn’t understand my options, I didn’t understand where I would be a good fit. This made me feel like I didn’t have anything to offer. So, of course, I acted like the scientist I was and just researched career options obsessively online. I didn’t build a network. I stopped at every “no” I heard. And I limited my options over and over again. <Read more.>