The End of Summer Vacation

Well, I have to say that it’s been a pretty great summer.  I’ve had time to raise a puppy, play the piano, have several excellent getaways, read some books, work on my tennis game and enhance my skills at Word Twist.

But I think with our return from our vacation in the Garden State, the oncoming Labor Day holiday, and the fact that I haven’t yet won millions in SuperLotto Plus, I guess the inevitable is upon me.  Yep, it’s time to get a job.

Of course, I’ve spent time during my summer musing about what it is that I want to be “next”.  You see, ever since I finished my post-doc, I’ve been moving along one career arc – pursuing preclinical drug discovery.  I started as a bench scientist back in the 90s and reached a point where I ran projects, set strategy and priorities and oversaw pretty large scientific teams.  By most accounts, I am pretty good at it.  And yet, as I consider getting a new position, I wonder if I should continue on the same path or strike out in a new direction.

The case for staying is that I know the space, I’m good at it, and could be a good fit for a number of companies here in the San Diego area.  Part of the case against it is practical — biotech is in a down cycle and there really might not be that many positions available.  The other is more personal – when I started in this business, I wanted to solve scientific problems that would help bring therapeutics for unmet medical needs – but after seeing the all-too-capricious nature of the FDA and the illegal activities within my own industry, I’ve begun to reconsider whether that’s a realistic goal.

So what else — the obvious answer is clean/green-tech, which is a burgeoning sub-sector here.  Rather than unmet medical needs, maybe I can help solve unmet energy needs.  Of course, the hard part is breaking into an industry in which you don’t have any experience, but the good thing is that clean-tech is so new that there AREN’T a lot of people with a decade of experience.

My severance package from my former employer has provided one-on-one meetings with a career counselor who has tried to convince me that I am in fact a beautiful and unique snowflake, and can do whatever I set my mind to.  So, we’re building a multi-prong strategy to look at several options.

Wish me luck – should be an interesting Autumn!

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24 thoughts on “The End of Summer Vacation

  1. A unique snowflake! That's one joyful career counsellor! :D No kidding though Steve, you're clearly a talented guy and I have no doubt you'll get whatever job you apply for. The trick is deciding. I do find that fate often leads us in the right direction eventually.
    Funny too because I went from vet tech (hands-on, small scale, lab crap, focused on each animal) to biology (large scale Earth stuff) so I know just what you mean. I can tell you that the switch was exhilerating. The big-picture careers give me more room to breathe, in a sense.
    Best wishes on your search ;)

  2. A unique snowflake! That's one joyful career counsellor! :D No kidding though Steve, you're clearly a talented guy and I have no doubt you'll get whatever job you apply for. The trick is deciding. I do find that fate often leads us in the right direction eventually.
    Funny too because I went from vet tech (hands-on, small scale, lab crap, focused on each animal) to biology (large scale Earth stuff) so I know just what you mean. I can tell you that the switch was exhilerating. The big-picture careers give me more room to breathe, in a sense.
    Best wishes on your search ;)

  3. I am in fact a beautiful and unique snowflakeThat's better than the alternative, which we can't talk about here, because of the first rule … Good luck. I think the green route sounds like a good idea. Seems everything is going that way and just maybe it would give you a chance to feel good about what you are doing. And if nothing else, you've had one heck of a summer!

  4. You and I have had similar summers, at least in general.
    I'm not too sure what I want to do when I grow up next either. I'm not so sure I'll be ready to figure it out after Monday though! Alas, the mortgage needs to be paid and my daughter wants to go to an expensive private college next year, so I better figure something out.
    Snowflakes melt in the summer heat. Maybe I'll wait until winter…oh right, I live in California. Analogy doesn't work so well.

  5. RM — good catch! I didn't know if anyone would get that — it's one of my favorite (among many) lines…Yeah — I think green-tech will be a "bubble" just like all the ebbs and flows in biotech have been, but like those bubbles a few good ones will survive.

  6. Good luck, but I really don't think you will need it. Unique yes snowflake just can't get that picture in my head. I do hope you find a job that feels like a perfect fit for you.

  7. I wish you all the luck in the world…not that you need it. Someone would have to be a fool not to hire you. I really mean it.
    I would like to hire you as my personal assistant! You may not have to use your brain very much but I could promise a lot of fun.

  8. You'll be an amazing asset wherever you go. Maybe you should apply for the Green Czar job….I hear he should be losing his job soon. ;)Great cartoon! Where do you find those?

  9. Steve, it would be so awesome if you were somehow in clean/green-tech! I feel like that's where science is going man! Get yourself on the front lines of science! Like you said, it's so new. I'll bet you'd find all kinds of way to do or make new things that would help so many unmet needs in this world.

  10. Thanks Hannah — but since I've pretty much deep-sixed any "honey-do" list this summer, I don't think that I could take any PA assistant position until a LOT of stuff was done here… ;) —- I have been known to do the odd job for baked goods though… :)

  11. Thanks Kelly — you know there's a part of me that wouldn't mind working for the government and giving back — I've looked but most of the jobs that would use my expertise are with the FDA and/or NIH and they're both in MD. Boo.I found that cartoon by looking under the images of the google search "job search cartoon" — there were some other pretty good ones too!

  12. Thanks BD! It's an interesting exercise to try and find a job in an industry where you don't really know anyone — especially b/c so much of it is done via networking when you reach my ripe old age. Maybe your not so ripe age, too — for that matter. Thank goodness for Linked-In!

  13. Wow — I'm excited for you (while simultaneously sad to see your end of summer unemployment). I was totally living vicariously through your blog. :) You're gonna have a fabulous career!

  14. Thanks Hapa — it's so weird to think about going to work somewhere ELSE — I'd had that last job for six years, which has been the longest stint of my career. I am getting pretty excited though….

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