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027. The Road More Traveled: Stepping Off of the Tenure Track

In 2011, a whopping 36,000 science and technology grad students earned their PhDs.  That same year, about 3,000 faculty positions were created.  So why did you feel like a failure when you decided to step off the tenure track?


Taking the high road

Scientists aren’t always as rational as we seem.  A rational person would look at the disparity between faculty positions and new PhDs and realize we need to support students and postdocs who choose careers outside of academia.

But there remains a stigma. If you go to industry, you’re ‘selling out.’  If you find a job in policy or outreach, you’re ‘throwing away your training.’  And heaven forbid you take time off to raise your kids!  What gives?

Dara Wilson-Grant, Licensed Professional Counselor
Dara Wilson-Grant, Licensed Professional Counselor

This week on the show, we talk with Dara Wilson-Grant about an article she wrote titled Standing at the Crossroads: When PhDs Abandon the Tenure Track Career Path.  Dara is a licensed professional counselor and associate director of the office of postdoctoral affairs and career counselor at UNC Chapel Hill, and she’s seen the struggle as postdocs come to terms with their “alternative” career plans.

Her article is unique, because it addresses the deeply emotional issues of changing careers.  We’ve trained for years to be ‘scientists,’ so what do we become when we take a job in analysis, accounting, or administration?  How do you know when it’s just a rough couple of months in lab, and when it’s really time to reassess your life goals?  Dara answers all.

Read her blog and get in touch at

An IPA by any other name

Also in this show, we try… you guessed it… another IPA!  This time, it’s Missile IPA from Champion Brewing Company in Charlottesville VA.  It’s explosively delicious, with lots of collateral liver damage.

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