Dr. Joseph Barber
The following paper was recently published in the journal “CBE – Life Sciences Education”:
“Improving Graduate Education to Support a Branching Career Pipeline: Recommendations based on a survey of doctoral students in the basic biomedical sciences” (find the article here)
The authors summarized the key results from this study:
- Students’ career preferences change strikingly during the first 2-3 years of graduate school (when students join a lab full-time), and the primary change is a decrease in interest for becoming a PI at a research-intensive institution.
- By the 3rd year of graduate school, 33% of UCSF graduate students would choose a non-research career path.
- Students list a variety of reasons for deciding against becoming a PI in an academic setting.
And they list the following implications of the data:
- We as a national scientific community need to refine our definition of a “successful” doctoral student to explicitly value those who pursue non-academic, and non-research, career paths.
- The timing of students’ career decisions (and their low confidence in these decisions) suggests that universities should place greater emphasis on career education within the curriculum, and target students earlier in their graduate training.
- Career education would optimally assist doctoral students in understanding their career options, identifying career paths that provide a best fit, and developing the professional skills needed to succeed in these diverse careers.
Read the full paper to get a better sense of what this research revealed. If you have questions about your own career pipeline, and whether it will branch or not, and when it might do so, then stop by Career Services to set up an appointment to meet with an advisor. You can ask us about career alternatives, and attend the Biomedical & Life Sciences Career Fair to see what opportunities exist for yourself. For more on “leaky pipes” in the sciences, see this blog post.