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On 'Escaping the Bench'

At the PostDocs Forum, Carlton Hoyt says that "waxing lyrical about the PhD/postdoctoral system won’t change anything." As such, he discusses ways in which PhDs and postdocs might escape "the crowd by escaping the bench." In deciding whether to leave research, Hoyt says it is important first for PhDs and postdocs to assess whether they'd be successful as a scientist. "If you pragmatically look at your career and think that you have an acceptable chance at being successful as a scientist — congratulations, and more power to you," he says. "If not, it's time to formulate and execute a back-up plan." For those who realize bench research is not for them, the next step is to "align your interests and skills with other career options," Hoyt says. Finally, "while your deep scientific knowledge will almost certainly be a key asset in your future, your new career path will require new and likely undeveloped skills," he adds. Because of this, Hoyt says that after honing their interests, PhDs and postdocs must consider the skills and connections required. "Going to networking events or industry events in that area would allow you to talk to those that are already successful in that field and get their input and make useful connections," Hoyt says.