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"alternative" careers

Five years

Five years since my defense.

Five years of bumbling, stumbling towards where I am now.

I’ve learned the importance of serendipity. Every step of my career since leaving the lab bench can be attributed to a chance encounter. None of my positions (editor, freelance writer, PR professional) were positions I set out to find.

There was a time when, bitter and frustrated after several years at the bench, I regretted my decision to pursue a Ph.D. But over the last five years, my degree has opened doors for me. And although sometimes tangential to the job, my training and experience has more often than not provided me with the tools and confidence to do the job well.

I would be lying if I said there weren’t times when I have thought the degree worthless – particularly in those hours spent crafting a placating email to an angry author, proofing a newsletter for the fifteenth time to try and catch the errant comma, or wrestling with Word to re-format a document to match someone’s exacting specifications.

But there are other moments that make it worthwhile – for example, realizing I could finally read a neurobiology paper without stopping at every other term, receiving an excited email from a grateful scientist who had just read my write-up of their latest paper, and watching a script and animation I had written and developed come to life.

I am confident I am not wasting my Ph.D. I am making the best of it.

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