Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

What Happens When The Idealist Gets That First Job ?

Chapter 5: The Role Of Circumstance Part 9

I did not get my first real job until I was over 30, thanks to the ten years I spent as scientist in the academic world, in graduate school and as a postdoctoral fellow.  My twenties were spent in the lab, and I loved it.  Well, I should be careful how I say that – lab work at the bench was a grind, often frustrating and repetitive.  I loved thinking up experiments, interpreting the data and the rush when something was working.  My first really big experimental result came in the forth year of graduate school at about ten o’clock at night.  I rushed around the floor looking for other people to share it with – I found plenty.  We were grad students in our twenties – where else would we be?

I was not the first, nor the last person to move from the academic to the corporate world.  “Mary Cassidy” could not get out of the academic world fast enough.  She went to graduate school for six long years studying oncology.  It was not a supportive environment, and the project was difficult.  The Ph.D. felt like it had been paid for in blood.  On a good project, experiments lead to a clear yes or no answer, allowing the researcher to move on to the next experiment.  Ambiguous results are a nightmare – one replicate yes, one says no and a lot of maybe.  This led to repeat after repeat – which was both demoralizing and frustrating. Moving from the snows of the Midwest back to San Diego, to work at a small but hot biotech company was exciting beyond her wildest expectations.

In the next post, we’ll see how Mary found herself thirty, single, and killing herself for the company.

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  3. […] people, circumstances, and the overall company culture.  I’ve shared the stories of people like Mary, Pat, and Harry to illustrate these dynamics in […]