Reclaiming the front page
As requested here are many words from me. I like writing. =)
For a number of reasons I am wrapping up my work at uni and will no longer be a student as of Thursday 4th Aug, so no conference in Korea *sigh*. I am quite happy though as it means I'm free to reassess my career plans. I've been talking to as many people as I can to work out a suitable job to target.
One of the first people I talked to mentioned that he worked on tenders in one of his jobs, he didn't find that interesting but it reminded me of what I did in high school where I convinced a few teachers and the principle to approve my proposed upgrade of the school network and computer lab. At the time I wanted to continue on and work in a computer store helping customers make better decisions, however I know that was an extremely limited career path, and that's if I could find a suitable place to work. I knew about companies that designed and installed networks, but I didn't know how I would get a job at one.
Right after I finished high school I forgot about that career path, focusing on programming and bioinformatics, I made great progress gaining experience working in both areas, I worked in a very technical company that valued me, and I was with one of the best people in bioinformatics doing my PhD leading into research.
Everything was going quite nicely until the last semester of my biotech degree. I was in Singapore on exchange and completing an internship in a bioinformatics lab when I felt the a need to leave the field. After returning to Sydney I started a programming job but found that I needed a lot more social contact, I had no contact with clients and my workmates were very quiet. I put that down to the type of company I was working for, and started my honours in computer science.
I planed to avoid bioinformatics, but couldn't find suitable projects outside that field, so I was back into it, quite lost most of the time, pulling my thoughts together at the last minute to end up with a decent thesis. I learned a bit about the politics involved in determining a paper's authorship, more about research, and how quickly I reached a point where my supervisor could only provide guidance as I had reached the limit of their knowledge in that area.
Before I had time to think about what I was doing with myself having finished honours I got an offer from my current supervisor to join her at Macquaire University. I was quite scared of her at the time, but knew that it was an important opportunity for me if I had any intention of continuing my career in bioinformatics.
In the time since I started my PhD learnt a great deal more about what it means to have a life in research, what it involves, the sacrifices you need to make and the battles you need to fight in order to make a difference. My frustrations at the field continued, bioinformatics lacks a clear identity, and in most cases bioinformaticans are employed in a support role instead of researchers in their own right.
The main problem I had however was my assignment to an inappropriate project and spending too much time working on it. I had little understanding of what I needed to do and the effect my work would have on others. The project I wanted to work would improving the field by enhancing how different groups would use each other's systems, it is however very difficult to receive funding for that type of work. After my supervisor realized that I would need to start afresh, she talked to the university's research unit and they said far too much time had lapsed and they wanted to know that I was going to have a thesis written in a year and a half. The university receives three times as much funding for a PhD student who completes than one that stays for the full period without an completed thesis.
My supervisor understood it would be quite a fight for me to continue on at Macquarie University, and so encouraged me to do apply for a new scholarship at a different university. At that point I accepted the situation and decided the fight I would need to put up to stay would be very costly and I had little interest in where a successful outcome would've taken me.
By this point I've had dealings with different IT companies to purchase hardware, and I had a far better idea of enterprise computing. After catching up with an old uni friend, I recalled the job I wanted to do when I was in high school, released that if I looked higher in the job there would be jobs, and soon found names for it, presales is the name of the area, sales engineer is one job title another is solutions architect. I describe the position to my friends as a techie who works with the sales reps.
After talking with a few people and coffee with one helpful accounts manager, I found that in the right company, a job in presales will offer me what I wanted: a challenging, technical position where I will spend significant amounts of time keeping learning about new technology, with direct dealings with client, that doesn't require taxing hours and has a career path that could lead me into senior management if I so wished. The account manager also helped me understand the related positions, what types of companies will provide the best environment for someone in my position, that the career path is open ended and that tenders which promoted my interest were in fact one of the most boring parts of the job. My plan is to pick an area to specialise in, and work as an independent consultant once I have established myself enough to control the work I do.
I like to look back from time to time to better learn from my experiences. I sometimes worry that I spend too much time worrying about what I'm doing to reflect and to think about the future. I have a few leads to work on so it's time to fix my resume.
I feel pretty good at the moment, better than I've been for some time. How I feel in a few weeks however, once I get stuck into job hunting mode remains to be seen.