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My background

I am a (former) molecular life scientist (non-US Ph.D). I have early understood that I have no chance of competing for professorial position, but, owing to strained circumstances, was forced to do a "postdoc". Naturally, I have tried to escape to "biotech" and failed. Since then I have been surviving on the "outskirts of academia" as a project manager for a crappy project. I am unhappy and would like to have a normal job / career. What's worse, I am chronically fatigued, disillusioned and have lost last shreds of self-esteem.

What I have tried so far:

  • I have been looking for actionable advice on internet, but it has been mostly useless. Often I experienced plain toxicity and insults.
  • I have found two or three on-line businesses that, supposedly, help Ph.D's to "transition" from academia to industry. However, when I did my diligence, I discovered that they are basically selling platitudes for a price of ~ $500. Moreover, they are aggressively pushing "networking" and "cold calling" pretty much random people on LinkedIn and asking for "informational interviews". I can get a $20 book on resume writing from Amazon. I do not believe in usefulness of LinkedIn or "cold calling" people on LinkedIn.
  • I have no opportunity for "physical" networking: I am located in ~ 12 hr drive away from Vancouver / Edmonton. May as well fly to Seattle instead.

Someone mentioned career coaches. I have no experience / knowledge of career coaches. Price tag aside, I do not know how helpful they are in reality, what do they deliver etc. I have watched on youtube one coach, Marty Nemko. I genuinely liked the guy - a lot of common sense, but I do not see a reason to pay for common sense / common knowledge. There is a ton of common sense books on amazon for $20 - $50 price. I have a lot of experience myself, but do not know if anyone is willing to pay me. I do not know if any coach will be useful in my specific situation (academia => real world).

Question:

I hesitate to throw money for empty babble. If you worked with career coaches, could you please share you positive / negative experience? Was it worth the money? Did you land a good job or made a smart career move because of assistance of a coach?

A sheynem dank! !אַ שיינעם דאַנק

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    It would probably be helpful for us to understand where you are stuck. Are you not getting interviewed? Are you getting interviewed and it's not proceeding? Are you panicking in the interview? Dec 16, 2022 at 9:26
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    Your question does not invite for an answer, but for a discussion - and that is not allowed, according to the rules of this site - AFAIK. Please describe one detail of your problem at a time ,in a way that it can be answered. You may ask (separately) as many questions as you want, even around the same subject - as long as the questions are different.
    – virolino
    Dec 16, 2022 at 9:31

1 Answer 1

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I hesitate to throw money for empty babble. If you worked with career coaches, could you please share you positive / negative experience? Was it worth the money? Did you land a good job or made a smart career move because of assistance of a coach?

I haven't ever worked with a career coach - mostly because from what I've seen my assessment is much the same as yours. i.e. that they are an expensive way of being told things that are either common sense, that you already know or both.

I have also never encountered anyone who worked with one who didn't either come to the same conclusion or were relentlessly "positive" about them... but still didn't have any tangible results to show for it.

This is (IMO) because career woo, much like health woo, or diet woo, or dating woo continues to plague society (and separate people from their funds) because all they have to do is say something that sounds reasonably plausible and if it doesn't get you the results they promised it's because you weren't doing what they told you correctly, or enough of it etc.

The best way on to get solid advice on obtaining the sort of job you want is to find someone already in your sphere (professional or personal) who has it and ask them if they'd be open to explaining how they got their start, buying them a coffee or a lunch while they give you their tangible real-world experience is going to be significantly cheaper and more effective than some career coach's platitudes.

My early career had a similar stuttering start - I'd planned on doing a PhD and heading deep into academia. Life had other ideas near the end of my masters and I found myself out of the academic path, "overqualified" for all the entry-level graduate jobs and because I'd not been involved in the usual graduate scheme tracks for those about to graduate I was having to start from scratch on finding a job in industry. And of course my academic network that I'd built up over the previous years wasn't relevant for this so I was on my own with no clue how to start and bills that needed paying.

So at this point I just started applying to any position remotely relevant to my skills that I felt I could do, most job searches are numbers games but this even more so. But I just had to keep plugging away because all I needed was one "yes" to get my "in" and start building commercial experience which I could build on and would allow me to apply for better jobs.

From what you describe you're actually in a better position than I was - your current role might not be want you want but you describe it as a project management role, and project management is an extremely transferrable skill. Just about any industry you can think of these days needs project managers! Often when hiring them domain knowledge isn't even required but your academic qualifications would probably give you an advantage when applying for a PM role in a related industry.

What's worse, I am chronically fatigued, disillusioned and have lost last shreds of self-esteem.

I feel for you, it's tough, and I can't promise that getting yourself out of your current situation is going to be easy, it probably won't be an will require you to persevere in the face of quite a lot of "rejection" (like I say it's a numbers game), but you just have to remember that you've already achieved a great deal (PhD!) so you're plenty capable and it doesn't matter how many "no"s you get you just need one "yes".

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