1. Marylouisa Holton said:

    This is a really postitive blog, I’m currently looking to move from academia to industry and it’s true, there are a lot of people who see it as giving up, personally I feel more like it’s moving on! I also completely agree with having to say yes to opportunities, such as running meetings and teaching, it really helps you develop and although it isn’t directly helping your lab work progress it is most definitely helping your career, so it’s important to make time for it.

    1. Nessa Carey said:

      Right there with you! The barriers between the sectors are slowly coming down, at least in the UK, and I think that’s a really good thing. It will create an atmosphere of greater mutual respect and collaboration. Good luck with your career change.

  2. Mohammad Dadashipour said:

    I’ve really enjoyed the informations and the experiences shared by Dr. Nessa Carey in this post.
    My favorite part was her advice to recognize our abilities: “What is it I’m good at?”. It is not limited just to “techniques and skills”. Rhazes (865–925) says: If all people were able to put their talents into right use, then this world would turn into the paradise that everyone is after. Academia is more attractive for people who want to be seen more, interact with students, teaching jobs etc. If somebody wants to make patent and materials to affect people life faster, it would be the best to join industry.
    In Japan, where I am working now, there are almost 16000 post-doc fellows in various fields, but the academic positions are very limited. So, absolute majority of these guys should think seriously to be an industry man/ woman!

    1. Nessa Carey said:

      Hi Mohammed, thanks for posting. In the UK the data from the Royal Society show that only 1 out of 200 people who start a PhD will become a Professor. The attrition and loss rates are really high throughout the academic pipeline. So I completely agree that everyone needs to think broadly, not least because it’s possible to do science in industry that is different but just as interesting and creative as science in academia, it’s just focussed on different questions.

      1. Mohammad Dadashipour said:

        Dear Dr. Carey,

        Thanks for the reply and the information. I personally love both sides and have enough reasons for each. The most important thing to me is to be productive.

        Best wishes from Japan


  3. Mohd. Tashfeen Ashraf said:

    Hi! Please provide contact details of Ms Nessa Carey.
    Tashfeen, Asst. Prof., School of Biotech., GBU, India

  4. Fernanda Cornejo said:

    Hi! I’m so glad I found your post. I am 25 years old and I am just finishing my master’s degree. I can completely relate to what you’re saying. I am a good student but I feel constantly frustrated because I don’t feel my work has the impact I wish it had although I love science . Honestly I don’t know what to do from here, I’m not sure if I want to invest 4-5 years completing a PhD but I maybe my science base isn’t quite strong yet. Or maybe the best thing would be start working in the industry and start building a business experience. I’d really appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for your time. Fer

    1. Nessa Carey said:

      Hi Fernanda. I am a big believer in doing what really enthuses you. If you love the idea of a PhD then that is the right step for you. But if it makes your heart sink, that’s a terrible way to spend a few years of your life. Only you can decide that. The most important thing is to make decisions actively, rather than wait for something to happen and it sounds like you are indeed thinking actively about your steps. I can’t tell you what is the right career path for you, but I have this theory that success comes from doing something that makes you happy, rather than happiness coming from being successful.

  5. ina rianasari said:

    Hi Nessa, It is very inspiring article. I really would like to switch my career from academia to industry. I love research but academia system (e.g funding, nonpermanent job contract) is really frustrating. So what was your first position after leaving academia?
    Many said that companies tend not to hire person who pursue long academia career track such as postdoc. Is this true?
    Thank you so much.

    1. Nessa Carey said:

      Hi Ina. My first job in industry was as head of a department. This was 9 years after obtaining my PhD. You can move into industry at any time from academia, but it depends what you have been doing. By this I mean that if you have perhaps had 4 post-doctoral positions, all in the same lab and working on the same topic, this may be a disadvantage unless you have skills which are extremely high-end and specialist. My attitude is always to think about how I will be different after any position that I accept. If you can’t really think how a position will give you something new to add to your CV, it may be time to be thinking about moving on.

  6. Varshika Kotu said:

    Dear Dr.Carey,

    I think that your interview was extremely insightful and it underscores the importance of holistic development in every step of one’s career path.
    Thank you so much for this well articulated piece.
    Varshika K

    1. Nessa Carey said:

      Thanks Varshika, I am very glad you found this useful.

  7. Desiree Douglas said:

    Dear Dr. Carey,

    Thanks for a really insightful interview!

    I also wish to make the transition from academia to industry. However, since my research background is molecular evolution and developmental biology I decided to do some work placements in various biomedical labs to gain experience with that kind of research. Do you need to have been doing biomed/biotech research since your Masters degree to have any chance of being a researcher in industry?
    Do you think it would be worth me doing a postdoc first to increase my competence in the field?

    I have tried looking for entry level jobs in industry, but in my experience having a PhD is a hindrance for such jobs. Also, the number of job titles has made searching for a suitable job mind-boggling. What was your strategy when looking for your first job in industry?

    Desirée D

    1. Nessa Carey said:

      Hi Desiree. I know it can seem overwhelming trying to get that break into something new, but it is worth the persistence. I made my first jump when I was already pretty experienced. I had worked out what kind of role I wanted and then searched for jobs that seemed appropriate. But even then, what got me the job wasn’t really the science. There were lots of other scientists as good as me. It was the other stuff- being able to show I could work with a range of people, had various non-lab skills etc. The trick is to look at what you are expert in, and then demonstrate that the skills can be applied to other areas. Your expertise in molecular genetics and developmental biology must mean that you are expert in a number of techniques and also in good experimental design. These are important attributes, so think of how you sell yourself to potential employers. But never forget that if faced with two candidates with the same scientific expertise, an employer will almost always hire the one who has shown the greatest interest in wider skills as well. Network like crazy – talk to people at conferences, contact bosses of small and start-up companies asking if you can come and visit to learn more about their company, all that kind of thing. It may feel like you are being pushy but it’s all about getting to know people.