More workforce issues in science: where have all the grad students gone?

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Sandra Porter

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where do all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where do all the flowers gone?
Young girls picked them everyone,
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?
-Pete Seeger

Where do graduate students and post-docs go when they decide it's time to leave the pipeline? And, if they're thinking about going, how do they find a path into something new?

These questions are especially timely given all the current NIH funding issues. It's odd, too, that we probably have the data, that is, I think we can count the number of people who've gotten training grants and gone through the system, but I'm not sure we know much about the people who've left the system and gone off the academic grid.

Okay, if they blog, we probably know about it. But the others are mysteries.

Two people have commented on different biotech workforce posts, here and here, asking about the prospects in industry for graduate students and post-docs who've fallen out of the scientific pipeline or perhaps veered off the science career track. I'm not certain which metaphor is more appropriate.

Janne asked, after this post, if academics could be retrained. PA asked, in the comments here, how graduate students could go about finding industrial types of jobs. I have some thoughts to share on both topics, but before I do, I'd like to hear from more people who've left the blackboard jungle.

If you didn't go straight from grad school to a post-doc position or from your post-doc to an assistant professor position, where did you go after you left graduate school (or your post-doc)? What are you doing now and how did you get there?