Recently I wrote about when you think it’s been enough and you decide to leave academia. Yesterday I learned that someone I know had decided just that and is trying to find a job outside academic science. Part of me is highly surprised because she was someone who was driven, hard-working and critical and I thought she would be able to find a position. It frightens me a bit that people that I look up to are not able to stay in science. And it makes me realize that the transition from being a post-doc to becoming independent is the big bottle neck.
It also made me wonder whether if I would ever make the decision to look for a job outside science, and if so, if I would regret all the time and effort put into trying to get data, write papers and get grants? If I would look at it from a distance, would all of this seem ridiculous? Is it worth all those hours and stress and time in the lab to know one tiny detail about one sub-aspect of neuroscience? I guess if you look at it like that it’s not. So I try to do things that I like and I do them in an amount of time that is reasonable. Because as much as I’m passionate about being a scientist and trying to become a professor someday, I don’t want to look back and realize that I’ve spent all of my time working like a headless chicken.
So what about you? Do you think you will regret your investment of time and energy when you decide to quit science? And if you have left academia do you regret your time as a grad student or a postdoc?