The stereotype of the life of a researcher is that of exciting adventures in the field, exploring the world, and tracking down answers to life’s biggest questions. The actual reality is less thrilling than that, though. Researchers spend a lot of their careers in the role of academic instructors, behind the desk grading papers, and engaging in institutional faculty requirements. There are also expectations of the researcher to publish new and impactful findings regularly, turning this once-exciting role into that of pressurized ‘publish or perish’ requirements.
Obviously, this life isn’t for everyone, and once a scholar delves into this world for a while, they may realize it’s not where they want to stay for the rest of their career. When this happens, it’s common to make the switch to somewhere else where their degrees will be useful. Many academic experts transition from scholasticism into the same industry as a stakeholder or worker of some kind.
Why Scholars Make the Career Switch
There is a huge difference between working in academia and working in industries in the same field. When scholars begin working in their academic roles, they sometimes realize that it’s not what they expected. Factors like these aid in the decision of some scholars to make the career switch into industry work:
● Less pressure and responsibility. As an academic expert, you are required, at some level, to be responsible for things like applying for different grants for your research, engaging in impactful experiments to publish your work, teaching multiple courses and mentoring your students, and actively participating in the institution and department services. Industry work, on the other hand, lets you spend more time doing research or business-related tasks based on the focus you prefer.
● A change in flexibility. Academic work does allow some degree of flexibility that doesn’t exist in a scheduled work-week in industry jobs, but it also forces you to be extremely diligent in your time management allocations and choose which priorities you need to set. You may have more of a say in when you do what you do, but you still have to squeeze many roles into the same 24 hours, often meaning you encroach on your personal life to take your work home. In an industry setting, the job usually stays at work after you clock out.
● Different levels of collaboration. As an academic scholar, a lot of what you do is on your own, particularly in the instructional aspect. You may collaborate with a team on your research, but your part is probably done by yourself. In an industry, a large group of people is working toward a common goal. You’ll be collaborating across multiple fields within your organization as a team, rather than in competition.
Challenges to Prepare for Before You Decide to Move
Like any career in research, the search for getting the perfect job can include a lot of competition. If you plan to move from scholasticism to an industry stakeholder job, keep these challenges in mind so you can have a smoother transition:
● Figure out what your goals are before you start looking. There will be a lot of different types of jobs, depending on the field you’re in. Only search for those positions that will put you on the path to reach your goals and include work you’re interested in doing.
● Get to know the company before you agree to work for them. Learn its culture and work history, figure out who the competitors are, and get real with what will be expected of you.
● Try to find contacts ahead of time in the company you want to work for. Use social media like LinkedIn to cement your presence as a professional in their mind before you start applying.
● Use keywords for the industry in your curriculum vitae and resume. The CV for the industry looks much different than those of academic positions. If you can, find someone in the industry world to look over your documents before you send any with a job application.
Your goal is to move to a career where you are more content and satisfied with your schedule and the work you are doing. To do this, you’ll have to put work ahead of time into the position before you agree to accept, or even apply, for it.