Career Advice

Every year somebody gets the job of trying to scare the new postdocs straight. I've been working on my lecture, just in case:

OK, so now you've got your PhD. Now you think that the rest should be gravy. Well I've got some news for you, boys and girls: the hard part just started. Two years from now, three of you will have dropped out and five more will have washed out, forced into a humiliating and degrading career at Burger King or Goldman Sachs. Two more will have been killed or crippled by falling met towers or errant anemometers, or, like some of your unlucky predecessors, fried by the weather radar. At least one more will be caught having an affair with the Division secretary, and shot or worse by your outraged spouse.

Some few among you may be found to have the right stuff to stick it out despite miserable and brutal working conditions; inadequate, dangerous and unavailable computers and experimental equipment: obnoxious, incompetent and senile colleagues; and the certainty that your work here will never be of interest to anyone.

A tithe of these may find actual jobs, working in their field.

The rest will be forced to stay on as permanent staff.


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