Saturday, October 02, 2010


It's bad enough that my Ph.D. Advisor and Post-doc advisor try to brain-wash me against I have my dad sending me subtle "Why don't you contact so-and-so uncle in ". I don't have the heart to break it to him that I won't make the cut in the mentioned elite institute. Then, every now and then, my dad sends me fws from his alumni e-group, where they are discussing some alumnus who has won a renowned science prize in India, or someone else who has made it famous.

My dad got his Masters from a very prestigious institute in India, and soon after that, took up a job from which he eventually retired after 33 years. But a lot of his classmates went on to get Ph.D.s and quite a few of them are now heads-of-departments at good schools in both India and in the U.S. My dad feels a tinge of envy/sadness that he never pursued a Ph.D... and, I think, would now like me to join this hallowed academic circle. I have told him time and again that I am going to look for an industry job for now and take it from there, and then he immediately backs off, saying "Ok, ok..but no harm in getting in touch with so and so uncle..he may even have friends in his institute in your area with contacts in the industry..". :)

Sigh. I never thought I'd be having to deal with this.

You know how they say in science things come together at the end? I didn't have that happen to me in grad school- it wasn't like i had a 5-year dry spell and then whoosh all this data fell in my lap- I was consistently producing, and wrote up my first first author paper when I was in year 4 or 5. Anyhow, the post-doc thus far has been a dry spell. It's been standardize technique, optimise technique, do assay, no results, go back to fixing technique. And time's a running out. But I strongly feel that it is all beginning to come together now. One technique that me and a coworker were working on for months, trying to adapt to our system, is finally yielding. And as it may turn out, there as no magic trick or quirk - it was just repetition a zillion times until I acquired the finesse it took. In my own project which is woefully data-sparse, I have come up with some "smart" that while I take one step back, it might very well end up being two steps forward. I hope so. I am feeling optimistic. I have also learned some important lessons from my grad school struggles- if I have to tack on another author to the paper, so be it, if it gets the job done- and right now god knows I need all the help I can get, so I am not going to even attempt doing each and everything on my own, even though this project is my baby.

In my "copious amounts of spare time" as Ph.D.Adv used to put it (sarcastically), I have been printing out and reading pages from this wonderful resource on Science Careers. There is a lot of good advice in there...may be a lot of it is common sense or stuff that we pick up along the way but reading it in print really helps to fix it in my head, and adopt in my job-searching strategies. And we always learn something- for example- somewhere in there is a tip buried that tells you not to upload your resume to all company websites needlessly. Because, when the time comes to go through a contact you've made at that co., they will not be eligible for a referral bonus if your cv already exists in the company database, so you reduce the incentive for them to recommend you and push your cv in. Who knew?

Time to sleep. Over and out.

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