As mentioned elsewhere, I've reappeared here after a substantial absence, this due to a change in personal circumstances.
To summarise, it's long time since my PhD and post-doc. My second post-doc ended badly due to a dispute with a senior academic at a Uni. away from my PhD Uni., however, help from my former PhD-Uni. colleagues (via the book chapter I've mentioned on another thread) finally reset my reference history and allowed me to find a real world job as a Quality Engineer.
My intention was to stay in that job temporarily before heading back into a research career. However, family factors meant the job I was in became very convenient and I stayed in that job for a very long period. In the end, it became the perception of family, friends and former colleagues that Quality was my true passion, even when I said otherwise.
I was made redundant at the end of last year and looking at my CV, mooted returning to Uni. for a year and retrain to break out of Quality as a career. However, a former colleague said quite bluntly that I should be looking at professional and not academic qualifications at the stage my life is currently at (now late 40s).
Whilst I understand his reasoning, this approach presents a problem in that any professional qualification route would be Quality.
I'm faced with two options:
1) Follow my former colleague's well meant advice and pursue professional qualifications, knowing this would leave me pursuing Quality as a career; or
2) Take a risk of a further academic Masters qualification on my CV in the hope I can break back into something more related to what I want to do.
I have no passion for Quality as a career, however, the length of time I've done it plus the length of time since my PhD and other technical qualifications (i.e what I've learnt is "old", even out-of-date) seem to be pushing me in the Quality direction.
Tricky. Given that we look to be headed into extremely uncertain economic conditions for the next decade or so, which do you think is most likely to keep you in adequately paying employment? Brexit is looking like very bad news for research careers in the UK, so maybe the quality career, while not exciting, might be the better bet for paying the bills.
Something else to consider: could you earn enough on the quality side with the professional qualifications while working standard hours to fund a lifestyle / hobbies that you'd want to pursue? Work to live rather than live to work attitude?
I don't know - I'd love to say follow your heart but if you've got dependants or have financial responsibilities then in your 40s it's a massive risk to take.
I personally don't see how another qualification is going to help you. You've got loads of experience, even if most of it is outside academia. You've already got the qualifications required to work in academia, so getting more isn't really going to prove anything, even if what you know is out of date, the fact that you have a PhD in the first place shows you can learn new things as required.
If I were you I would apply for research or teaching positions or what ever it is you want to do and see what happens. You wouldn't be the first person to come back into academia after a stint in industry.
It's not the qualification I want, it's a revision of my skills such that potential employers see me as more than and not just a Quality professional. I fell into Quality by accident rather than design for want of better words. If I take another Quality job now, that will be it. Going forward, it will be a Qualtity career and I find the related functions to it deathly boring. My original background is Materials Engineering, leaving me short of the skills to be considered a true Engineer (and thus having more options).
That said, I do understand your reasoning and yes, there is alot of uncertainty to come with Brexit, etc., and perhaps I should just be grateful to have any kind of job. "Work to Live" is fine, but I don't want 20+ years up to the point I retire doing something I quite frankly find boring. That said, it may well be my fate and the last few years in this profession called Quality has defined me.
I feel I should explore the options before writing off my pre-Quality life and all the work done during and after my PhD. I don't want to turn the clock back, just not wake up each morning dreading going into work and being bored out of my mind.
As per my comments to Bewildered, it's to reskill rather than another qualification. As it happens, I am looking at academic and research positions. However, finding something where I fit is difficult.
If in the past I've not been happy with a situation, my instincts have been to change it rather than just accept life as it is.
I say go with your instincts. Somehow even when it was a risk and it turned out to be not exactly a panacea, I've never regretted the risks I've taken in my life. Whereas I do tend to regret it when I held back from doing something for fear of x, y, or z. If pursuing the Masters is an option for you, and the other option is so uninspiring, take the road lesser travelled!
Perhaps do a blue skies thinking kind of activity. Are those the only two options? Maybe there is a third option: eg another way to break into something more interesting.
Well doing another masters isn't going to hurt you, that's for sure. It will show your commitment to changing areas I think, if nothing else. I just think it may not be required, so maybe apply for several things as you are looking for the masters or doing the masters. Plus, apply for things anyway even if you don't think you fit - maybe other candidates don't either but they have to give the roles to someone!
I definitely think life is too short to be spending it doing something you don't enjoy - I quit a different career path for the same reasons and I'm doing alright in academia at the moment, for this year at least. If you can afford to take the risk then I say go for it.
I really like Edwardianguy's comments about not limiting your options to an either/or. I know we often do this, myself included, and it just seems to be something to the do with the way we think, rather than being a major truth about reality. There can be more options out there but sometimes it is hard to see these.
It isn't uncommon for people to have several careers in a lifetime, especially nowadays. I guess the issue is that none of us have a crystal ball and can predict our futures. So yes, whatever you do has an element of risk. Hindsight is always a marvellous thing.
When I get stuck (often) on a life decision that has potentially will have a reasonable impact on my life, I look at my broader goals (not specifics) and then I look at what seems to be a positive option forward for the next few months. I then choose the best positive option for the next few months, but only as long as it is working towards my broader goals and fits in with my values. Then later on, when I look back, I can think, well it was a good decision at the time and it has taken me further and opened up some more doors (very possibly doors I had not realised existed until I took that step).
Best of luck MB. Did you manage to get your article btw? Hope so.
Okay, food for thought here.
My job hunting is proving fraught as it's turning out that my skills set was very specific to my last employer. Prospective employers, even if I was to stay in "Quality" (ugh) are all asking for different skill sets and therefore retraining is looking increasingly unavoidable.
Therefore, if I have to retrain then I would prefer to retrain to do something different and my gut instincts to say do a Masters to retrain is seemingly looking to me to be the right path.
The problem is when we opt to do PhDs, we focus very narrowly on portion of a field making us very niche. One employment agent who has looked at my CV has said directly I've done lots of niche projects, making me appear very specialised. Another difficulty is the PhD puts it in the mind of employers that Im going to move on the moment something better comes along as well as appearing too academic. That is depsite a substantial period in my previous "Quality" job.
My retraining idea may sound counterintuitive, however, if I can fix my core Engineering skills to make myself more attractive to employers then this seems to make more sense to me. The alternative, struggling to find a job I enjoy or doing a job I seriously don't enjoy (and now struggling to find even that), is not an enticing one.
There are two approaches I could take. The first is to go full time for a year to be able to sell my new skills set at the other opportunuity (student loans required, which I could live with). The second is part-time for a few years alongside a job (even a Quality one), however, there is a risk whathever job I take could pidgeonhole me further. I'm therefore erring towards option one, that being my "gut" and I've tended to do better when I've gone with my gut.
PJLU, if I can locate the extra "author" then I'll contact him for a copy of the paper.
Warning I am somewhat of a radical, but I firmly believe there is no reason to do shit you hate (unless you are your family are about to starve.)
I say figure out what you want, and reverse engineer. I discovered what specialisation I really loved halfway through my PhD, so I pivoted, and made sure I was able to write at least 1 paper about it, and now I'm just obsessed with cracking into that field.
Be empirically lead by what you love doing. It sounds airy fairy I know. If you are not sure, experiment (depending on how much leverage you have). DO NOT go with the safe / sensible option if you have the choice man. You will be tiptoeing to a super resentful retirement.
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