Leaving and returning to academia

If you are considering a return to academia from industry there are several aspects to consider; while it can be a challenging move, it can also be incredibly rewarding. Dr Sue Bodine has made this move and is really positive about the benefits of her commercial experience in her current role. She does stress that her move back to academia was made possible by the impact of her research in a commercial environment.

Dr Bodine recommends examining particular facets of an institution you are considering, such as potential internal collaborators, and who might become your academic mentor. The culture and environment are also important considerations, as is your own skill set. One of the biggest challenges she found was brushing up on writing grant applications. She found her mentors particularly helpful and insightful on her return to academia.

With the move back to academia you are likely to be required to teach students, the amount of teaching will depend on the type of department. If the department is responsible for undergraduate teaching, your teaching time requirements are likely to be higher than that of departments responsible for postgraduate studies.
In closing her post Dr Bodine sets out some questions to ask yourself when making the decision to take a position in either academia or private industry.

  • What type of environment do you thrive in?
  • Do you like to work independently or as part of a team?
  • Do you want to run your own lab and be the decision maker or would you prefer to have a boss who directs the research?
  • Do you want to work on a particular biological system or question? If you could no longer work on this system, would you be happy?
  • Do you want to write grant applications?
  • How much importance do you place on publications?
  • Do you enjoy teaching and interacting with students?

Click here to read the full post on the American Physiological Society careers blog.

Academia and industry aren’t that different

Professor Phillip Guo has worked both in academic and industrial environments. In his reflections on working in both academia and industry he concludes that they aren’t that different. Both are businesses with a clear hierarchy. In his short post he takes each level of hierarchy and reflects on a particular aspect such as workload or mentoring and highlights the similarities between academia and industry.

Click here to read the full blog post.

Ultimately, as Dr Bodine’s post above also suggests, wider questions about what inspires you, cultural fit, personal strengths and weakness should really help to form your decision to return to academia.

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