Friday, October 28, 2016

The magic board

I have extolled the virtue of my whiteboard in previous posts (see e.g., here and here), but it turns out that knowing how to work with a whiteboard could actually get you a job. I often say that I am a believer in technology, that it will fix a lot of problems at several scales. Sometimes the best technology, though, is an old-school magic board and markers.

Life after (or instead of) academia

Nature summarized a recent report that followed-up researchers after they left university. The tone of the article reflects a bit of the surprise that "Guess what: And they are happy!". Our department recently identified what jobs our MSc and PhD students have 5-10 years post graduation, and 42% end up in a research scientist position outside of academia, compared to only 13% in a faculty position, and 16% pursuing an academic training position (PhD or postdoc). While one of the valid conclusions from the Nature summary is that "It is time to normalize these sideways steps", our own data actually show that we should not call these career aspirations sideways steps. The academic route is the sideways step, so how can we as a department strengthen our graduate students in preparing them for these non-university job prospects?