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What is working in industry like?


Charise White
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Charise White

Colleagues, I need your help. I am at a
crossroads, trying to decide whether to apply for industry jobs. My reservation is my need for input and some
autonomy. I do not want to be just a cog
in the industrial machine. So, what is
it really like to work in industry? How
do you spend your days? What is the best
thing about it and the worst? I will
truly appreciate any answers.

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I remember being at a similar crossroads. In fact I had worked in the industry before doing my PhD. During my stint in the industry my supervisors highly advised me to get a job doing basic research. I did do this for the next 45 years. However due to a lack of funding right after my PhD I was seriously considering entering the industry. I was very sad to think about loosing my ability to perform basic research and explore it at my own pace. Anyway I was extremely fortunate to have been offered permanent position in academia which allowed me to continue to do research at my rhythm and level of curiosity. I guess also it depends on your personality and what you are looking for as a professional. It also depends on the industry the company and their policies. I know from a financial point of view being in the industry is far more certain than in academia for instance. I have an excessive need for autonomy and therefore I know I would have had lots of difficulties in industry. I did consultancy work for a pharmaceutical company once a month. I had to be present at the company for one week per month. This meant traveling to the city where the company was located and spending the week in a hotel. I really like hotels by the way. This was usually a long week. So for three weeks I was doing my basic research and for one week I was doing work for the industry. The industry pay check was more than the one in academia. However I felt so relieved coming back home to my academia research that the pay check did not matter. It was my wellbeing that counted. So these are my views. I would not have given up my ability to perform basic research to enter the industry for anything.

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I would recommend listening to the Cheeky Scientist podcast (available on iTunes). It interviews PhDs who made the transition from academia to industry about their positions, how they got their positions, what their work day looks like, etc. It is a 30 min podcast released every week. Although I don’t have industry experience, I have learned a lot about different positions and their pros and cons.

https://cheekyscientist.com

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