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Out of Academia

In a blog post at DeviceRandom, Massimo Sandal says why he left not only his chemistry postdoc at the University of Cambridge, but also why he chose to leave academia altogether. While he wasn't overly optimistic about his most recent research project, Sandal says he chose to leave the lab because he thinks there are problems within the "practice of science itself." While he says he still loves science, he's not so enamored with the high-stakes "competition for funding and positions" he's seen within it. Over time, Sandal says he's found that succeeding in science "means working 24/7, basically leaving behind everything in your life — without any doubt [of] your skills and abilities, and most importantly, [of] your project — while fencing off a competition of equally tough, confident, and skilled guys." Above all else, Sandal was saddened to realize that he had measured his self worth only in terms of his success as a scientist and felt that "the very idea of quitting academia was a synonym of personal failure." Now, he says, "quitting and reclaiming back your life is not failing — it is waking up and winning."

In a follow-up post, Sandal says that most of the more than 169 comments he has received so far "were 'me too' stories, either of graduate students/scientists with serious doubts on academia, or of people who left academia to do something else (almost invariably much happier than before)." Sandal says that "to see bad experiences similar to mine shared by so many was eye-opening and somehow frightening," and reminds those considering careers outside of academia that they are not alone.

HT: Postdocs Forum

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