I find myself in a major career change from academia to industry and I realize how very different academia is from the corporate world on some levels. Why do I want to change „worlds“? I am very passionate about asking new questions, unraveling processes behind phenomena, flipping data, solving problems with experiments, engineering solutions, for example. But I also find that academia is not the place for that anymore, the work-culture seems in steady decline, the hierarchies tightly in place. The so-called career opportunities, e.g., tenure track quasi zero and unsupported by the PI. It doesn’t look as if the environment will change anytime soon.
Anyhow, I feel that my talents, my development, are wasted and/or wasting away in academia. That’s why I have made the decision to leave. The decision was painful, because I feel that for many scientists, including me, this is a question of identity, which feels very existential. A dream has in fact died.
Now, I’ve come to terms with it. I feel quite liberated and I can reinvent myself. But it is also very confusing. While I have so much experience with developing fresh ideas and strategies for implementation and development, project management, team development, data analysis etc, how do I translate my strengths and experience effectively into the corporate framework? I am scanning a lot of employment opportunities and feel that I am not qualified, missing key skills. What I am doing in the mean time is taking online classes to acquire these skills (e.g., for data analysis/science ,SQL, programming R, Python, Golang, Machine learning).
Also, I have heard very often “what do you want to do?” This is such a complicated question considering the forest of job titles and work descriptions. I know I could work as project manager, data analyst, as consultant, since I had to be all of this during my years in science. Still, I fear I might lack distinct industry qualification and above all focus on a specific job title. I just don’t know where to start, how to start.
I took a Gallup strength assessment, all 34, Big 5 etc. my strengths are clear to me and I can’t wait to apply them, expand, excel and above all work in a real team towards a big goal that is for once applicable to the real world with real people, possibly improving life for people? How do I find a mentor? Or concrete guidance? Has anyone here made a similar career move?
PS: I know of the Cheeky Scientist Association, but I can not afford anything costly right now as I am on an extremely tight budget, since I am waiting -once again-for grants to come through. This is not untypical for science, unfortunately. Hence my need to get out of academia.
Also, my PhD is in Geo-Planetary- and Space science, so it’s not medical, biological etc.
I welcome all advice and constructive criticism.
Thank you so much for reading!