What field do you currently work in? statistical support for medical research
What is the highest degree in astronomy/physics you have received? PhD
What is/was your most recent academic position in astronomy/physics? postdoc
What has been your career path since you completed your degree? 2 postdocs in astronomy, 1 job in computational modelling (public health), beginning new job in statistical support for medical research
What were the most important factors that led you to leave astronomy and/or academia? dissatisfaction with project work opportunities and lack of collaboration
What is the job title for your current position? Research Engineer
What is the name of your company/organization/institution? Sydney Health Data Coalition (University of Sydney)
What city and country do you live in and/or work in? Sydney, Australia
What is your social background? Are there any identifiers that you think are particularly relevant? Australian upper-middle class woman
What do you do for fun (e.g., hobbies, pastimes, etc.)? Rock climbing, singing.
List your favorites. Band (or singer/composer/etc.), recent film, current TV series, food, color, pet. listen to all genres of music; currently watching Master of None; will eat any amount of pasta offered; dog person
What’s something you greatly miss about grad school? What about something you definitely don’t miss? I miss discussions about academic and non-academic matters with colleagues and office-mates. I don’t miss the constant pressure and feelings of guilt about time spent working.
If you have made a career change, what was your age at the time? 29
What have been particularly valuable skills for your current job that you gained through completing your degree? computer programming, statistics, public speaking, report writing, management
What advice do you think advisors should be giving students regarding their career path? Advisors should speak with genuine respect of non-academic professions; allow students to consider matters other than their professional success when making decisions; teach them to understand their own worth.
What, if any, additional training did you complete in order to meet the qualifications of your current position? on the job training only. Reading up on new field, learnt to use collaborative tools/software.
What job hunting or networking resources or other advice/resources did you use to land your current position? Made public that I was looking for work, and spoke to other colleagues who had also left the field.
Describe a typical day at work. Skyping with colleagues regarding task-planning, coding & debugging & testing, writing documentation, creating visualisations and presentations for stakeholders
How many hours do you work in a week? 45-50
What is your salary? 90-100K AUD (70-80K USD)
What is your level of satisfaction with your current job? Previous job: OK
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? Least enjoyable? Previous job: I enjoyed the teamwork involved in the project-work. The least enjoyable aspect was negotiating deadlines with management.
What do you like most about your working environment? Dislike most? See above
What opportunities does your job provide to be creative and/or to take initiative? Can suggest new approaches to a task, and opportunities for management, but there are external constraints from stakeholders
How satisfied are you with your work-life balance in your current job? Only recently started this job, previous job had better day-to-day balance, but there were several requests to be available at odd hours for meetings with overseas stakeholders.
How family-friendly is your current position? see above
What advice do you have for achieving work-life balance (including having a family)? Everything outside work also deserves some priority.
Do you still interact with people who work (directly) in astronomy and/or are you still involved in astronomy in some way? Yes, but as a hobby, research done in my spare time paid for by me.
Were there any emotional difficulties or social consequences to your career choices? Do you have any advice for those who are thinking of switching careers, but are wary of the side effects? You may miss your research field and colleagues (our professional life was a big part of our social life too), but there’s plenty of interesting and challenging work outside astronomy – make sure you’re engaged with whatever you do, know your skills, and be valued by your colleagues! https://truthbeautypictureofyou.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/10-steps-to-quitting-astro/