Knowing what you want to do - at any stage in life - is hard. In this video I talk about how I made the decision to switch from an academic career to a non-academic career. I also cover some of the things that made it possible/easier both as a PhD student, as well as earlier in life.
Suit coat or lab coat?
That was always going to be a big question for me. Looking back, I can see that from an early age I had been an entrepreneur. Bulk buying lollies and selling them at school, washing cars, mowing lawns, selling notes I took in class. I even ironed the cash I got (before it was plastic and melted which I learnt the hard way). None of that seemed like it could be a profession for me. University study was the right thing to do. So I did.
All the way to my PhD. But there was a disconnect. There was not a linear relationship between effort and reward. More experiments didn't get better results or publications. And the reverse wasn't true for fewer experiments. And did not want to be part of that short-term funding cycle. So I decided to exchange my lab coat for a suit coat. And make use of my PhD ways other than lab-based research. Ironically, running my own practice, funding cycles are shorter and more competitive than grants. Projects are typically days to months long with vague opaque application process. But, there is a correlation between effort and outcome. And it turns out the love I have for my work means I'm not so put off. I could also see the grant treadmill ahead of me by the application process and funding cycles. And very happy to have exchanged my lab coat for a suit coat.