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Science Careers Forum

The Science Careers Forum is a professional, industrial, academic, and postdoctoral forum covering topics related to employment and career development in scientific and engineering careers.

Updated: 2018-04-16T08:30:36-05:00


Science Careers Forum • Re: How to manage advisor recommendation



There is not much you can do - if you do get a call regarding your availbility, i recommned you state that you're ready to start per employer need. If asked about how you'll manage the publication, just state you'll work with your PI to have the project (the publication) managemed by someone else - I don't recommend you get into discussion about working evenings or weekends.

In fact I recommend you cut your loses. You already have publications and you've already taken the decision to leave academia, you don't need it. Trust me, if you get the job, once you start you'll have zero interest in completing the publication or even having authorship - you won't care. Rather you'll want to be focused on the job and that's the reality - to think other wise is just fairy tales or fantasy.

You've learned a lesson, be it in academia or industry, never use your current boss as a reference for an external opportunity (only exception is for those staying in academia where you need the PI to take you to the next step).

Folks in academia i've seen don't seem to get the message so there it is above, just don't do it. We don't do it in industry as common and accepted practice.


Statistics: Posted by D.X. — Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:30 am

Science Careers Forum • Re: How to manage advisor recommendation


"The paper was submitted three months ago and is in review."

I'm sorry, but just how likely is it that the reviewers are going to ask for more data? That's the only reason I can see for sticking around. Even then, though, would this be something that someone else could take on as a side project after you left?

How long does this journal typically take to get reviews back to the authors? If you can reasonably expect to see a response within a month or so, it might be alright to stick around. If you expect something more like six more months, that's another matter.

Your advisor may have been bitten in the past by students/post-docs not finishing papers once they've left, but finishing a paper after you've left a program is NOT an uncommon experience. Most places do try to get you to publish "when you have something to say," but I know of places that expect you to "do the work, get the degree, get out, then publish."

In the end, it's YOUR career. The company is willing to consider you even though the paper is not yet published. I'd say be ready to compromise (e.g. be willing to put in a few nights and weekends), but don't risk losing a position you want because your advisor is really concerned about her careeer.

Statistics: Posted by Rich Lemert — Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:18 pm

Science Careers Forum • Re: How to manage advisor recommendation


If you have already giving your advisors contact info as a reference, and the company has contacted her, I assume she will provide a reference for you and it may be beyond your control.

Her desire for you to stay longer in the lab is a good thing, and reflects positively on you. I recommend being clear with your HR contact or hiring manager about when YOU are ready to start a new position. Be professional with your current advisor, and do your best to honor your commitments, but this is your career. Once the company is ready to hire, they may not want an extended start date.

Kudos on getting to this point. If you are having your references checked, you are likely the top candidate. Good luck.

Statistics: Posted by RSD — Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:00 pm

Science Careers Forum • How to manage advisor recommendation


Hi Forum- Been a long time since I posted here, but urgently needed some advice...

I'm now a longtime post-doc who has recently gotten close to an industry job offer, to the point where the company wants to check my references. That's all well and good, except for the day that they contact my post-doc advisor, she comes by stressing about a paper that is in review (good journal, so its been 3 months now since initial submission) and saying that she'll need to negotiate with the company so that I can stay as a post-doc longer and get the paper accepted before moving on.

I've been in the same place for 5.5 years at this point, have had numerous manuscripts accepted, and will be out of funding in August, so I'm obviously inclined to take the position and come back to work nights and weekends to finish the paper, but advisor thinks that, "That never happens, you need your full dedication to the paper not on a job" and that it would be better to get both the paper and the job.

I'm not really sure how to handle this situation. I don't think I'll get a bad recommendation in terms of work etc., but at the same time, I'm positive she is going to say something about me needing to stay longer. I mentioned the paper during the interview, but didn't think advisor would freak out this much, so I thought it would be fine to start on a normal timeline. Now I'm concerned that this whole situation is going to make me look bad, screw up the job offer etc.

Should I contact the people calling my references ahead of time to warn them about this conversation? Or let my advisor say something and hope it doesn't derail things? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Statistics: Posted by ATF — Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:54 pm

Science Careers Forum • Re: MBA after a PhD in organic chemistry?


Doing a MBA on the Companys expense can indeed be a very good career move. my advice woudl be to discuss what the plan for you is once yuor training have been completed. Sure that plan can and will probably change but only the fact that there is a plan is a good thing.

I know of one recent US case in which a person was offered a MBA training, had time off to complete the training and once the training was completed there was no position available in the Company for a person with that expertise. From the information that I have it seems likely that this was the plan from the start ie the MBA offer was in reallity a buy out. This of course assumes that you hold a contract or position that somehow prevents the Company from just saying goodbye.

Statistics: Posted by PG — Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:54 pm

Science Careers Forum • Re: MBA after a PhD in organic chemistry?



Dave is absolutely correct here as well.

It's harder and harder to get such training paid for - usually what it looks like is if the company does pay for an MBA, its reserved for folks who are in talent pools (the high performers) AND with a good amount of tenure and fairly high seniority and.or crediblity in the organization - they're probaly not flight risks.

Plus the value of an MBA today as per knowledged gained is more and more questionable these days.

However, speciaist training and specialist degrees/certification have then become more accessible for company investment in term of development. For example once you're intergrated say in a Project Management function and are performing well, a company may invest in say some form of externally reputable and recognized training such as PMP, say as a development opportunity to embark in more organizationally complex Project Management. Or can even be specific cources that will give you what you need.

My point is these days development is not just MBA, i would recommend that if in the point of your career you need external training, the reality is that the training you need may be say more narrowed in scope vs. broad based than say an MBA.

So my recommendation, first know where you're aiming once you have experience and understand what you really need to take you there. You may often find its not really about external education, rather it may be more about getting hands on experience (via a rotation or an FTE spend as a project lead in an area of your interest) that will get you to where you want to be.

Focus on performing and delivering first and foremost.



Statistics: Posted by D.X. — Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:15 pm

Science Careers Forum • Re: MBA after a PhD in organic chemistry?



Great question -- My opinion is that this will be a valuable MBA. And, it didn't cost a thing. That's a great way to take a company benefit and have it pay for itself.

The days of company paid MBA's are going away because so many people leave and get a new job after the MBA is paid off. They are starting to learn that this expense literally sends employees out the door.


Statistics: Posted by Dave Jensen — Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:13 am

Science Careers Forum • Re: MBA after a PhD in organic chemistry?



A little bit because before you get a company to pay for your MBA you will have to have experience and have had to agree with your line management that the MBA is a meaningful part of your development plan worth the investment. In other word you have to earn it internally.

Keeping in mind that you will have to work while you pursue that degree. Yes you will have to work to pay off that MBA - each company will differ in time horizon and forgiveness milestones - as well as when the clock starts ticking for loan forgiveness- usually it starts after you get the diploma.

If you are on a good development path then great and if you are seeing the benefits of that degree as part of your development then even better. If not, I.e. you don’t get the position or develope how u want then the “payback” time can be grueling - if you can’t afford to payback in full the tuition amount AND the time you took to get the degree, if the company agreed to paid time off during the course.

There is still no solid bet you’ll get the job or promotion you want (things change in a company) but at least you can possible get degree paid for while having already achieved some experience while still getting work experience - that’s where the MBA could make sense.

Just keep in mind it may help you get to your next step internally but still the best predictor for advancement is performance linked to how you are perceived in an organization.

If in time you get the MBA, payoff the time and move on - still it will be your experience that will get you the job not the degree per se. but still a nice plus to say you had a company pay for your degree (provided you paid back your time).

I have a degree ( a specialist degree) my company paid for, so I know a bit about the topic - let me know if you have any more questions.


Statistics: Posted by D.X. — Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:26 am

Science Careers Forum • Re: MBA after a PhD in organic chemistry?


Hi all,

Does it change your opinion on this topic if you continue to work for your company while getting an MBA part-time and the company reimburses you for the educational expenses? Usually, this involves a few years of work commitment after degree completion.



Statistics: Posted by M.W.S. — Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:50 am

Science Careers Forum • Re: Advice from and industry hiring manager: PhDs, please don't apply for BS/MS level posi


Abby wrote:
We have been hiring for BS/MS level research associates recently. We have gotten a few PhD candidates that I've forwarded on for consideration as postdocs. One candidate, however, did not list their PhD but a minute on google found out they had one. Definitely left a bad taste in my mouth about their level of honesty too!

This one has come up before on the Forum and it was quite some time ago, so I'm happy to see it circulate back to the top. Yes, I agree with you Abby. For sure -- leaves the stigma of dishonesty when you think about them later.

But oddly enough, the last time we discussed this (sorry, can't find the thread) there was great arguing from both the "ok to delete PhD on CV" and those like you and I, where we feel that it's mischievous at best and often seen as just plain lying. I don't remember having reached any accord. It was one of those one side vs. the other situations.


Statistics: Posted by Dave Jensen — Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:36 pm

Science Careers Forum • Re: Advice from and industry hiring manager: PhDs, please don't apply for BS/MS level posi


We have been hiring for BS/MS level research associates recently. We have gotten a few PhD candidates that I've forwarded on for consideration as postdocs. One candidate, however, did not list their PhD but a minute on google found out they had one. Definitely left a bad taste in my mouth about their level of honesty too!

Statistics: Posted by Abby — Thu Apr 05, 2018 5:34 pm

Science Careers Forum • Re: Advice from and industry hiring manager: PhDs, please don't apply for BS/MS level posi


Thanks all for the discussion. Dave's comment is particularly relevant:
Dave Jensen wrote:
I guess that applying a stringent "no PhD" rule could be considered stereotyping. There must be someone out there who would be happy in such a job with a PhD and who wouldn't leave the moment they saw a PhD position open that they fit.

For better or for worse, many stereotypes exist for a reason - and perhaps hiring policies are designed to reflect this. In this particular case, we have received approval to hire for X position, with Y salary and Z advancement opportunities associated with a position at that level within our organization. As the hiring manager here, I do not really have flexibility with this.

It's not that I wouldn't like to add a brilliant PhD level scientist to our program, but that X position does not require such extensive training, nor would Y salary be appropriate for an such an individual. Sure, as Dave said there may be someone out there with a PhD, multiple postdocs and several high impact publications who would be happy to remain at the bench doing research for someone else, but it would first take an incredible amount of explanation to convince me they really wanted to do so long term.

Statistics: Posted by RSC — Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:54 pm

Science Careers Forum • Re: Advice from and industry hiring manager: PhDs, please don't apply for BS/MS level posi



I would agree that in pharma sales the degree is less important. In fact, I advise PhDs not to go into pharma sales because it is so highly regulated that there can be a degree of frustration in not being able to discuss the scientific details with the client.

In instrument, reagent and contract service companies, however, the advanced degree helps, because in many cases the salesperson has to educate the client in order to make the sale, and the knowledge picked up getting the degree helps to do that. Additionally, the letters add credibility in the client's eyes. These types of companies have a sales process that tends to be rather more science-driven than pharma. By this, I mean that while pharma certainly relies on science, the sales aspect relies less upon it that the other types of companies that I mentioned. Because of this science-driven attitude, the PhD will count for more than it might in a pharma company when promotion is being considered.

So I do not really think that we disagree - more like comparing apples and oranges.


Statistics: Posted by Dick Woodward — Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:50 pm

Science Careers Forum • Re: Advice from and industry hiring manager: PhDs, please don't apply for BS/MS level posi


Hi Forum,

Let me challenge Dick a bit regarding the PhD holder having better chances of moving up from Sales based on a better credibility standing with customers.

I agree that credibility in terms of realationhip is fundamental but that may not alone turn a Sale which in Sales is the fundamental KPI for performance. Whether a PhD has more turnover - I don’t know - but on my side, pharma, Sales performance and internal credibility over degree level will predict those who go to management. I guess what I’m saying is Sales performance is more the driver, the credibility with customers is more the tool that hopefullty drive those Sales (I.e. asssuming those relationships will be linked to Sales turnover).

Regarding Dave’s view - I have the view that if one states PhD preferred in a job description then I think those holding the BS/MS would have to have relevant experience to be competitive to those holding the PhD. I wouldn’t see it as a step down at first from a PhD holding point of view rather a bit opposite that thier would need to be strong experiencial rational to hire one without the PhD. Whether or not it’s a lower hierachy level position as Dave alludes to I think is on the burden of the PhD holding applicant to suss out during the interview process with subsequent decision on whether the position is a trench or a level platform to launch thier career from - I.e. is it fair game?

Re Nate’s Q on PI support, I agree I’m in a different area but even with me knowing I would have PI support I never activated them in my ventures into exploring non profit and industry opportunities - never needed a reference from them maybe I’m an exception. To take an Italian expression - Boh?

Only one military application I made did I need that reference letter.

Boun Soirée from my Paris hotel room


Statistics: Posted by D.X. — Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:57 pm

Science Careers Forum • Re: Advice from and industry hiring manager: PhDs, please don't apply for BS/MS level posi


I agree with Dick on sales positions. Hasn't this forum talked about a large BayArea biotech company who hires PhDs in technician roles and I know there are academic PIs who are hire post-docs in technician roles. In these situations, even if the PhD can't find work, he is better off continuing to look for the right level position? What if the PhD is strapped for cash? You can make a research position anything you want to it be by effort (but not by title; this applies to mostly academic positions and some pure R&D positions)? I knew techs and students who swam circles around post-docs in the lab. It not always so clear cut in terms of ability.

How much of this comes down to working for the right academic PI who is going to help his students afterwards versus the wrong PI who only thinks about his own lab (i.e. lack of mentorship)?

Statistics: Posted by Nate W. — Thu Apr 05, 2018 12:23 pm