Post-PhD employment anxiety

10-Jan-18, 18:41
edited about 1 minute later
by MissyL
Avatar for MissyL
posted about 1 year ago
Hi everyone,

My PhD is in Molecular Biology and I'm just starting writing. I am relieved to be finishing as my PhD hasn't been an easy journey.

However, I'm now terrified about finding a job. I went straight from undergraduate to PhD, and had one terrible PhD placement (very boring, repetitive, bad management), so my job experience is basically zero and unfortunately very negative.

I know I don't want to stay in academia as I'm a homebody and I aren't willing to relocate (I appreciate this isn't ideal). I'm also not into lecturing, conferences, and the competitiveness that comes with the environment (basically academia in general).
I feel like my only other options are industry/science writing/policy etc, and none of them really excite or interest me.
Everyone say graduates can move into other fields, but I have no idea how or what I'd even want to do.
I am terrified I will have to take a bar job/shop to maintain an income and that will be it for the rest of my life!

Did/does anyone else feel this way??

Sorry for all the complaining and worrying!

11-Jan-18, 13:00
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 year ago
If you genuinely have no clue what to do next, you should consider taking your time over it. In the meantime take on a job which will pay your bills wiout being too strenuous mentally. That will resolve your immediate financial problem and give you mental energy to think about your longer term career.
Stop panicking about being in bar work for your entire life. That wont happen.

Getting a good job which fulfills you is a full time job. On my part, I now run my own business whilst I actively work on longer term plans. Most of my week is spent doing the latter.

You are not alone.
11-Jan-18, 13:03
edited about 1 second later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From Jamie_Wizard:
You're in a great field! I also tend to be a bit of a worrier. Just fire out CVs and something will turn up, especially nowadays were there is so much research being undertaken in Molecular Biology. You might also want to develop your Bioinformatics skills (presumably you already have skills in this area, but there are many new techniques and technologies emerging) to give you more scope for finding work in the field. Perhaps some online courses could get you started whilst you search for jobs and it could provide a useful distraction from your worrying.

Good luck!

The problem with just firing out CVs is twofold.
Firstly, your CV will scream out that you are not passionate about the job. Secondly, it runs a high risk of trapping you in high paid but unfulfilling work.
Patience is required here to prevent both of those scenarios.
13-Jan-18, 00:51
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 1 year ago
Hi, MissyL,

Do calm down. The skills from a PhD in Molecular Biology are in demand, so you should be alright.

Do surf the internet for resources on potential careers after PhD and align that with your personal interests. Would a research scientist position in a company interest you? Have a look at "Top 10 List Of Alternative Careers For PhD Science Graduates" ( and "What can I do with my PhD? Jobs outside academia" (

In the mean time, yes take on temporary position to pay the bills, even if they are bar jobs. We still need to live whilst we are planning the bigger picture of our career.

All the best.
13-Jan-18, 10:11
edited about 11 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From tru:
Hi, MissyL,

Do calm down. The skills from a PhD in Molecular Biology are in demand, so you should be alright.

That is strongly depending on what you were doing during your PhD. If you have been doing advanced cloning, gene editing, development of new and complicated methods and so forth: great. Your skills are useful. If you've been doing a lot of repetitive and rather low profile molecular biology (PCRs, extractions, blots, transformations...): more difficult. The problem with the latter is that companies are not hiring someone with a PhD as an e.g. research scientist to do these kind of repetitive tasks.

In general, I could really relate to your post, as I often feel the same. So far, my project has also included a lot of repetitive work. It is necessary to get that data but it also made me wonder how that would qualify me for jobs in e.g. industry. I think that is a very common concern. As you don't want to relocate: What kind of jobs could you do in the area? Is there relevant industry? If not, this is anyway no option. Have you considered working in sales or as a product manager for a company that produces products for the life science sector (Quiagen, Promega....)?
13-Jan-18, 16:15
edited about 50 seconds later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 1 year ago
Would you be interested in senior science teaching perhaps? I don't always suggest education as you have to either really like young people or your subject or be passionate about educating in general or educating about your subject or discipline at least...however if you think you might tick one of these might be worth thinking about. It is a very varied type of work once you get into it and science teachers with Phds are not that unusual. You have some choice about where you live and holidays are really excellent.

It's only a thought. We do need talented and informed young teachers especially females to excite girls about science as an area of study. You probably would need to do a further year of educational studies which you could easily manage with some part time hospitality work to help make ends meet.


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