Forum:I need your help to find my future
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7.6 years ago
Baptiste ▴ 90

Dear everyone,

I am a french newly graduated student in bioinformatics. I get my master 3-4 weeks ago. But now I am supposed to start working, student life is over, hard to admit. Since I am no lazy, I submit to some positions. But the thing is, I have already applied for many positions almost no replies. However, I don't understand, I do have experiences: I did 4 internships including one in Paris, Berlin and Singapore.

Maybe It is also because I don't know exactly what I want to do. I didn't know that It was so difficult to find something that I like. I still like what I am doing but after one bad experience in research, I am kind of losing faith in it I would like to try working in company, start-up or a science journal just to see if I will like it.

I was also thinking travelling, doing a civic engagement, improve my English and my German, finish the Santiago de Compostela --> You see maybe I think too much.

So if you have any advice, any suggestions, any stories or also some contact to give it to me please do not hesitate. this is my mail: mossotti.baptiste@gmail.com

This is my linkedin page (just in case you are interested): https://www.linkedin.com/in/mossottibaptiste

Baptiste

internship masters career • 3.6k views
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Hi,

I think you are a perfect candidate for a PhD (I realize you don't want it but I call it as I see it :) ). So you like to code, I see python and R and you do not know what your particular interest is ...well...perfect fit, if you ask me. My recommendation would be to get a PhD position (at least this way you will get funded until you find a real job). PhD positions in bioinfo are as ppl say "dime a dozen", PhDs are truly the cheap labour of the information age and there are numerous positions available. Working in a company is torture if you have your own ideas and those ideas are mostly theoretical concepts that you are interested in - theory only can flourish within some academic environment, period. Startups are a lot of work with no security nor clear perspectives for the future (So definitely not for a person thinking about a stable family life - startups are a big gamble, usually with a negative outcome). I cannot say anything about science journals since I haven't worked there. point is you have nothing to worry about, there is still 6-8 years of runway ahead of you to figure all these things out. Bigger problems will come when you get to my age and still pursuing bioinformatics. Believe me it doesn't work. I also did a phd, afterwords worked in a startup, during the phd worked as a bioinfor sys administrator for HPClusters and web servers, I am a programmer proficient in dozen computer languages but still without a job. Unfortunately, once you get out of the academia it is hard to get back in because it requires publications and these require a lot of time which you do not have. So, as I said find a phd position this will give you 3-6 more years to get a real job. Real jobs (sufficient to support a family) with bioinformatic background are hard to come-by.

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Hi baxy

Thank you for your reply and for sharing your experience. You know, your answer is exactly what my professors told me. "You don't know what you want to do, no worries, do a PhD and you will find after that". The only problem is, a PhD for me it is not something trivial, that you can recommand to everyone. You spend 3-4 years working on a secific subject, reading papers, going to meeting, consortium, always aware of new information. In my opinion, this is not an easy solution to take.

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wow i don't kow who filled your head with that, but what you are describing are ideal academic conditions. reality is: you get your scholarship, you listen to your boss and do whatever he says (if he says nothing you do nothing - in case your aim is not a phd but time to get a real job) once you get your money it is really hard to prove that you are not doing science ;) your boss regardless whether you graduate or not gets his points that push him higher academically. plus if he is smart enough, you dropping out can be extreamly beneficial for him. that is why I say phds are a cheep labour these days and a big opportunity for those that are in the position to have such ppl. meetings: usually you have 2 a week (lab or group each about 1h, the rest of the time you are free). as far as being on top of things goes (aware of new info), show me one phd student that is on top of anything :D usually ppl think they are on a frontier but they are not ( their enthusiasm gets the better of them ) and things do not change as much as ppl think (usually those that have no solid CS and Math background think that revolutionary things are poping up every day but they are not), it is because they do not understand basics. If you approach your problems only through new facts it will seam so but if you understand how things work then you will see that every "novelty" is just a modification on the topic. reading papers: i always considered them as documentaries, so instead of tv at night i read two or three papers (i still do that). the only thing you have to remember is never to re-evaluate math and stats in papers your boss is on (you take those papers as the holly bible ). because if you do that and point out irregularities (80-90% of bio, bioinfo, papers (that utilize statistical processing) have statistical and mathematical irregularities that easily can change the outcome of the analysis ) you will not get the extension on your contract and no recommendation and ultimately end up undesirable in science . understanding math and stats is only useful when trying to prove someone outside your group is an idiot.

i have this feeling that you are primarily "scared" to take up the phd position because what you've heard but there is no reason to be scared. based on what you said and what my crawler collected about you (never wise to post any real info on the web unless you want ppl to investigate you :D) you are a perfect candidate for a phd and in your case this could be the most logical choice

cheers

b

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I wonder where you got those impressions regarding people doing a PhD, and how certain you are you can extrapolate those observations to all PhD students, everywhere.

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of course I cannot extrapolate. the aim was to demystify the phd to the OP (as mush as one can in one post because my impression was that he is a bit scared to enrol, i know i was, also thinking about the expectations the community and co-workers will impose upon me - fear is the dumbest reason not to do something, particularly a logical thing (my personal opinion)). the point was, it is a job like any other. yes, ppl are probably much more motivated than in some other line of work but at the end of the day it is just a job. :)

:D anonymity :D

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And by the way, I could also find you online. Anonymity doesn't exist.

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@Baxy,

You make your point. Yes I am little bit scared of doing a PhD because I didn't find the subject yet, because it is at least 3 years on one specific subject. But It is not the path that I will recommand for someone who doesn't exactly know what he wants to do. Finding information on me was I guess not that hard specially when I wrote my mail, but I simply did it on purpose just in case that if someone has information, advices, jobs or contacts, he can send it to me :P

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It might depend on your field or lab but I regularly have side projects and quite some diversity in my work, so I'm not 4 years on one very specific subject.

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Unfortunately 4 internships of a few months do not mean much (even though it is better than nothing). I have seen the same issue from the biologist perspective: at the end of my studies me and my friends had more than one year and half of internship but no answer to our applications. Do not lose hope and continue to try, it can take a long time before the first replies.

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Hi Radek,

Thank you for your advice. Maybe I am too impatient and like you said, it could be some times before the first replies. During this time, I will continue to apply for positions. Thanks ;)

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Yes, go and finish 'el camino', maybe that would help you clarify what to do next.

At least you know one thing: that you are not interested in a PhD. There is nothing wrong with that. And you are not interested in that now, but you may (or may not) be in X years' time.

At any rate, don't get discouraged by the fact that you've applied for so many positions and no reply. It'd have been good to hear from them at least to say 'We've gone through the X applications but I'm afraid to say you have not been shortlisted for the interview'. It's a tough and competitive world out there. There are pretty competent people and fewer jobs due to funding cuts. People get made redundant, teams get dismantled due to changes in the research centre's vision for the future. Keep an eye here for jobs from all over the world and if you want to come to the UK (regardless the Brexit), check EMBL-EBI jobs. I can not recommend enough working there. If you get interested in any of those jobs, email the PI (as suggested by @igor) to get to know them and perhaps send your cv and ask if they think yours skills/experience would suit their team. At the EMBL-EBI, there is something for everyone, bioinformaticians, software developer, curators, training officers, etc.

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Hi Denise,

Thank you for your reply. Yes my idea was to find something before hiking and then hike as far as I can, until the begining of the job. I guess I am in "depression post study", that I just finished university, I feel weird and lost. But Maybe I need also to see this situation in the other way around that it could be an opportunity for me to find a job in the field that I really like. Thank you for the link I will check for opportunities.

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7.6 years ago

You need to figure out what you're interested in, where you see yourself in something like 5-10 years from now and what your geographical mobility is. Once you know what you want, things become a bit easier because there are some clear steps to be taken. Knowing what you want will also help you sell yourself to potential employers in particular when replying to job adverts.
Consider a PhD for an academic career or a career in industry R&D. Be aware that academic careers are difficult: you'll most likely be in temporary positions/contracts until your 40s and that about only 15% of PhD graduates end up getting a stable academic position.
If you're not interested in research but more in coding/software development then a master's degree is enough.

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Hi Jean-Karim,

Yes I need to find what I am interested in and this is the major step. But for now, I am not interested in a PhD and I am not sure if I can see myself as a researcher, I was to disapointed by this. I did 4 internships, unfortunately all in research, I never try in company so I can not say if I will like it or not. Thank you for your advice

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I am not sure that the "trying out every option before deciding" is the best approach. There will always be things that you'll not like and times were things will not work out as you'd like. To overcome obstacles you need motivation and this comes in part from having a clear view of your objectives. To move forward, make a list of what aspects of a job you consider important or like/don't like then for each job option you consider rate each aspect on a 10 points scale (e.g. long working hours would probably rate higher for a PhD than for a software developer) then do the sum separately for the positive and negative aspects. Regardless of the outcome, this exercise may help clarify your objectives.

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@Jean-Karim

Thank you for your advice. I need to make this clear. =)

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7.6 years ago
igor 13k

Applying for advertised positions is difficult. Your application might be lost, filtered out by someone who has no idea what they are doing, or the position could already be filled.

Forget that whole process. Find a lab that works on something you are interested in. Email the PI directly. If it's a large group, they are hiring new people relatively frequently.

(Obviously, this is not applicable to faculty-level positions.)

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Hi igor,

I guess I should do this. I apply directly to the lab, spontaneously. Thank you for the advice.

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7.6 years ago
natasha.sernova ★ 4.0k

Unfortunately It is not clear what would you personally like to do...

You've mentioned a lot of computer languages, which one do you really like?

You've mentioned mathematics and statistics - do you like them and understand very well in some areas?

You've mentioned teaching - did you like it or it was obligatory?

You've mentioned some great laboratories, like Martin Vingron' one - did you like what scientists were doing there?

You will definitely need to defend your PhD for scientific work. In this case you need to find a Professor who will accept your

application.

Probably PhD is not obligatory for industry.

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Hi Natasha,

It is not clear because I don't know what I want to do me either...

I like programming, I like statistics and also biology, I like teaching, I like some part of research but I don't have enough passion to work on a specific subject for 4 years (I am not considering doing a PhD). OR I didn't find THE subject yet. But I don't want chose something randomly, specially for a PhD...

I do like many things, but I am aware that I will need to choose. I just have the feeling that if I am not trying everything I will regret it, afraid of having missed something that I could like.

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7.6 years ago
Echo ▴ 70

A lot lab can find PhD in bioinformatics as postdoc with a postdoc salary. why they want a MS?

If you like coding, try to search for software developer position. It is much easier.

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Have you tried hiring? We've advertised for both and it's not much easier to hire postdocs.

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Especially in academia, jobs are 1-2 years fixed-term contracts with no career perspective, you're basically hired as a throw-away bioinformatician. As someone who's recently been looking for a job, I often found that employers had either unrealistic expectations or making unattractive offers or both. Typically, this involves looking for someone with a lot of experience in many different areas and offering a beginner's salary.

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Absolutely agree !!!!!! Having 15+ years experience in the field makes no difference salary-wise. the fact that you can do something in 15 min what a newbie bioinfo with a phd requires a month, counts for nothing. but that is academia: only recognizes titles, not experience.... that is why i believe bioinfo in academia has no future. unless it gets recognized as a distinct field such as CS or Biology (which is not the case in many countries and universities)

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That is why I usually advise new people to stay away. It is good field only if you hold a PhD degree and have a very high possibility to be a tenure track professor.

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what have you offered? and what were your requirements? i guess you were looking for someone who just finished a phd (essentially knows nothing) no family and is very mobile, right?? :) have you consider outsourcing the jobs to eu ?? let me know if yes :)

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If you looking for a postdoc, you can only get someone who just finished a PhD.

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and what about those that are on their 4th posdoc ??? too expensive :)

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No. Would be happy with those too.

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7.6 years ago
sentausa ▴ 650

As others have noted, you have to find out first what you really want. Two years ago I took a very good course on Coursera called "Enhance Your Career and Employability Skills" that takes you to through the first process of knowing what you want, knowing what you can offer, knowing whether you're ready for a career, and then other practical stuff to present yourself etc for interviews and so on. Unfortunately, it's not available anymore on Coursera, although we can still see the cached snapshot of the syllabus here and all the materials (video lectures etc) here. Bon courage!

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7.5 years ago
Rox ★ 1.4k

Hi Baptiste !

Maybe it's a bit late to answer, but I saw your post today so I wanted to know how it's going.

I'm a french student in bioinformatic too, I'm going to finish my studies next year, and I asked myself the same questions as you a lot of times.

I'm also interested in the research world and problematic, but I don't see myself as a researcher, because I think I'm not enough involved in something.

I'm also interested in computational biology (which is different form bioinformatic as I see it) but I don't know if my backgroudn will fit with that.

I did some various task during my interships, and all liked them, so it's hard to say what we really are into.

I think that you don't have to say "Okay, I'm going to be specialized in that field" in order to get a job (in my opinion), open minded people are the best because they are interested in all kind of task.

I think you should try like several "shorts jobs" (CDD in french I don't know how to say it in english), and see how it is going. At least, that's how I see myself in 6 months !

I don't know if you liked to travel, but you have several place where you can work in France (Montpellier, Marseille, Rouen, Lyon, Clermont-Ferrand...), but also so many places all the world !

Hope you will find some answers, maybe I'm going to post something similar in few months !

Good luck :)

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