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Career Guides for the Perplexed

A life scientist's decision to forsake lab work in academia for another career often comes after much soul-searching and with many misgivings. "The hardest thing is to escape science when you're enjoying it," says Guy R. Burkitt, a former Rockefeller University postdoc who is now a software engineer at a biotech company. "And when you get results that mean something, you really do enjoy it." Besides, he adds, "you invest so much time and effort in one thing that you really want to continue." &#

Douglas Steinberg

A life scientist's decision to forsake lab work in academia for another career often comes after much soul-searching and with many misgivings. "The hardest thing is to escape science when you're enjoying it," says Guy R. Burkitt, a former Rockefeller University postdoc who is now a software engineer at a biotech company. "And when you get results that mean something, you really do enjoy it." Besides, he adds, "you invest so much time and effort in one thing that you really want to continue."

Career transitions like the one made by Burkitt last fall will likely become more common because of two trends in the life sciences: the granting of far more Ph.D.s than there are academic job openings,1 and growth in private-sector opportunities. To ease such transitions, universities increasingly provide various forms of career counseling to science students and postdocs. Outside academia, however, sustained and informed advice...

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