I'm switching careers (from media to science research)

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    Sep 08, 2011 3:49 PM GMT
    I've always been interested in science related material, typically neuroscience or anything that applies to the anatomy and function of the human physiology. I got a 3.86 with my BS in Psychology and a 4.0 with a grad course in Neuroscience from UCLA. So although I lack experience I don't exactly lack the capacity.

    But with my current intermittent work-for-hire jobs, the instant gratification in me pushed me into music and video production and editing. After working in this mediocre industry filled with people who are as fake as people in gay bars that also stress out over no reason (sorry but a bra commercial is not making a difference in the world), I've decided to downgrade my music/video endeavours to a passion and a hobby, but not keep it as my prospective career.

    I would like to go back to school and/or change my job completely into a research position. As long as I am taking part in a laboratory or researching on scientific literature I will feel comfortable. Ideally I would like to work in an Infectious Diseases department, Neuroscience area, or in general work on any project with the aim of improving human health.

    I really really really can't keep making music and videos and realistically keep thinking that this is my job and this is going to be my life. That is ridiculous and to be honest I feel like it's immature and selfish of me to stay in this field. Science and healthcare is more rewarding because my work there will logically build off previous work and it's aim is a more tangible goal: helping people lead physically and psychologically healthy lives!

    SHORT VERSION: I ABANDONED MY MUSIC AND VIDEO CAREER AND I'M LOOKING FOR AN ENTRY-LEVEL RESEARCH POSITION IN ANY HUMAN SCIENCE-RELATED FIELD, OR LOOKING FOR A GRAD PROGRAM THAT INCLUDES PAID SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH!

    I know. This thread is TOTALLY about me and I'm looking for help. But the more you help me, the more likely I'll find a cure to a disease you end up getting later on in life!icon_biggrin.gif

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    Sep 08, 2011 4:10 PM GMT
    As someone in the middle of the Hell that is grad school, I highly recommend thinking through your decision to go to grad school. It's definitely a commitment akin to marriage with kids. You have to really really love what you're studying, and even then, you'll probably get sick of it while in grad school. icon_lol.gif

    Almost all graduate programs in the physical sciences are funded, so looking for a paid program shouldn't be hard.Most graduate programs are looking for candidates with a good amount of research experience. Some applications require a written essay about your research experience, and your past research is a guaranteed conversation topic for the admissions interviews.

    I'd suggest finding a professor at a local university whose research interests you and ask if you can work in their lab to get your hands dirty. And you might not want to hear this, but they may be more likely to say "yes" if you agree to do it without getting paid. There was a girl that used to work in my lab that was working on a project but not getting paid because she wanted to get some research experience to put on her resume for med school applications.

    Meh, I don't wanna erect a wall of text. You can pm me if you wanna know anything more...

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    Sep 08, 2011 4:14 PM GMT
    wildtype87 saidAs someone in the middle of the Hell that is grad school, I highly recommend thinking through your decision to go to grad school.


    As someone who misses undergrad and hates dealing with ton of "sales and marketing" failed-actresses in the work place, I highly recommend you don't try to deter me from what I want to do. I enjoy learning and want a challenge.

    I'll look for an entry-level research position for now, and I'm well aware that research positions want you to have a degree but to have a degree you need research experience. I'd rather go through this trouble than spend another day in the entertainment/media production industry.

    I was also thinking of getting an MA/MS in statistics. That will avoid the need to have much research experience. It's more mathematical in nature. And YES I LOVE NUMBERS. A LOT.
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    Sep 08, 2011 4:18 PM GMT
    I'm not trying to deter you, just trying to give you the full disclosure that I wish someone gave me when I decided to start.
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    Sep 08, 2011 4:23 PM GMT
    Go for it. People make career moves all the time, and you obviously have experienced enough to justify the move. Have you narrowed your search to universities in cities where you would like to live?
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    Sep 08, 2011 4:28 PM GMT
    socalfitness saidHave you narrowed your search to universities in cities where you would like to live?


    Vaguely.
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    Sep 08, 2011 4:33 PM GMT
    Apply for a PhD program in Neuroscience. Right the avg national stipend is somewhere around $27,000 - $28,000 a year.

    But a lot of these places prefer you to have previous lab experience, as I told you once over dinner. icon_wink.gif

    We'll talk about it soon icon_smile.gif

    edit: if you like numbers a lot, there's computational neuroscience that you can do. It's mostly mat lab and Photoshop skills oriented
  • jim_sf

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    Sep 08, 2011 4:55 PM GMT
    What they've said, especially about neuroscience. Your experience in media could be a great benefit; it's always useful to have good visualizations, and your current skills could make those clearer and more appealing.

    Check out the NIH Human Connectome Project, which aims to map neural pathways:
    http://humanconnectome.org/consortia/
    There are two consortia, doing slightly different things, but it sounds right up your alley.
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    Sep 08, 2011 5:17 PM GMT
    JakeBenson said
    wildtype87 saidAs someone in the middle of the Hell that is grad school, I highly recommend thinking through your decision to go to grad school.


    As someone who misses undergrad and hates dealing with ton of "sales and marketing" failed-actresses in the work place, I highly recommend you don't try to deter me from what I want to do. I enjoy learning and want a challenge.


    Dude, chill out. Seriously. What wildtype had to say is actually really good advice. In fact, it's advice that ANYONE who considers grad school at all is going to hear at least once. It really is quite a commitment, especially if you want to go for the PhD. For that, it really does require that you want it badly and you like the area enough to work on the same exact project, possibly alone, for 4-6 years. Possibly more. He wasn't doubting you at all, just telling you like it is. I've seen innumerable people enter grad school as an MS/PhD and leave after the 2-year MS. I've also seen how difficult it can be for someone who enters a PhD program without thinking it through and they just hate every minute of their daily life, but they don't want to leave after the commitment of a few years' worth of research.

    In short, he was just trying to help you out. Remind you to pause for a moment and make sure it's what you really want. You probably should talk to a bunch of grad students to find out what it's like before you make the jump.

    If you do that and still decide you want to do it, then great! I wish you all the success in the world. Unfortunately, I'm not in the physical sciences, so I don't know of any research positions. If you wanted to do something in energy, I might know places to direct you, though.
  • paduk

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    Sep 08, 2011 5:25 PM GMT
    Also, have you tried Pharmaceutical companies? They have laboratories and R&D departments.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Sep 08, 2011 5:56 PM GMT
    i didn't know you were a bruin
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    Sep 08, 2011 6:03 PM GMT
    GOOD LUCK!!! icon_biggrin.gif
    You'll always be
    JAKEBENSON ROCKS!!!
    to me.
  • LJay

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    Sep 08, 2011 6:17 PM GMT
    The blending of your video experience could be a really good thing. It's great that you have the urge to change when you feel lilke you should. Corporate anything is less than ideal for anyone with a real brain.

    On the other hand, it will be hard to boost your candidacy for president if you are in grad school. Maybe that will have to wait until 2016.
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    Sep 08, 2011 9:48 PM GMT
    ucimae said
    Dude, chill out. Seriously. What wildtype had to say is actually really good advice. In fact, it's advice that ANYONE who considers grad school at all is going to hear at least once.


    Yes I understand. I just hear it from everyone. Like it's gotten to the point where it's trite, like "how are you." I understand grad school is NOT easy. It's not Legally Blonde. The dude had a point and explained himself. You don't need to rub an dry penis further by telling me to chill. I just don't want to hear "grad school is hard" for the same reason if I plan to move to Spain I don't want to hear "Oh in Spain people speak Spanish." This should be common knowledge, though I understand people may remind me because they're used to dealing with dumber folks.
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    Sep 08, 2011 9:51 PM GMT
    LJay saidThe blending of your video experience could be a really good thing. It's great that you have the urge to change when you feel lilke you should. Corporate anything is less than ideal for anyone with a real brain.


    I'm looking into positions where I produce content to convey research. It'd be very nice to translate raw scientific journals which only scientists understand to a short video for everyone to understand.
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    Sep 08, 2011 10:06 PM GMT
    I went to graduate school in Chemistry and I work for a pharmaceutical research company in NC focusing on the synthesis and testing of HIV compounds, so I'll share a bit of insight.

    To put it succinctly, you're going to need scientific lab experience in order to find a job. Without a hard science degree, it's going to be incredibly difficult ... I'd almost say impossible ... to get much experience in the field because there is a glutton of scientists in the field who are struggling to get positions. Most pharmaceutical companies (my company included) are going to hire a chemistry or a biology major who recently graduated before they'll hire a psychology major because they'll at least have more familiarity with preparing solutions, understanding terms like molarity, secondary dilution, etc.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd take a Biotechnology course. Reason? It's an avenue where most of the pharmaceutical companies are starting to explore. Having experience will get you in the door to perform drug research.

    Depending on your lack of Biology background, I'd pursue an undergraduate course and have experience in a laboratory setting. Gain familiarity with the instrumentation, etc. It's great to have the interest, but companies aren't going to give you a second look given your current lack of experience.

    Pursuing a graduate program is also an option, but I'd recommend taking a laboratory intense course before signing up for a program because lots of my former students were initially interested in the idea of drug research, but they hated working in a lab setting and quickly changed their minds.

    Feel free to send me an e-mail if you have any questions.

    Nick
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    Sep 08, 2011 10:08 PM GMT
    I just started the PhD program at UC San Francisco in Biomedical sciences, and it sounds like a lot of what you are aiming to do can be found in this program.


    http://bms.ucsf.edu/

    it's an umbrella program that has tracks in neuroscience, human genetics, immunology, virology, etc (pretty much anything medically related)

    applications aren't due for a few months, but they do take some time to craft, so I would get started pretty soon. If I remember correctly, you've already taken the GREs though? That's a good start.

    Although they are looking for applicants with a decent amount of research experience, it doesn't necessarily have to be recent nor all that related to what you hope to pursue.

    so if you've had any type of research experience at all, be sure to mention it and highlight the skills you've earned during those internships that will make you a good candidate for the program (even some of the things you've done in music editing perhaps)

    if you'd like more information, I can send you some of the essays that I wrote for the application (i applied/got accepted into about 8 PhD programs).

    Good luck man! it's an exciting/rewarding field to get involved with!
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    Sep 08, 2011 10:09 PM GMT
    Jake:
    Good for you on your decision. I would recommend you look at the suny and cuny universities. For state rates I think you have to be a resident of NY for a year so it may be a few months more before you can qualify for them. This is assuming you want to go to grad school. I got my BSN in nursing at suny stonybrook in long island, you can even commute by the train to stonybrook if you want. check out the cunys in New York City area. I took a neuroscience course going for my masters and it was interesting. My recommendation is to look at what the universities offer in the health science programs and then see which way you want to go. A degree will be a big help for you, it really will. I think education is always a good start for your career because it will pay off big time in the end.
    Keep your video editing while you pursue this for some extra bucks and I think you should keep it as a hobby. As you pursue your new career it will be a nice balance for you and some of the passion may return. If I can be of any help let me know. Good Luck Jake.
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    Sep 08, 2011 10:10 PM GMT
    Almost forgot, suny stonybrook has a large and varied health sciences program and they are an excellent school for the money
  • commoncoll

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    Sep 08, 2011 11:39 PM GMT
    Go to medical/dental school. It will be good for you.

    Obviously you are capable of putting in the work and are smart enough. You have enough time to put together an application and get the MCAT taken care of.

    You will have to incur debt. But it will mean more job security and higher income than investigator positions. Along with that, research is readily available. If you don't want to become a clinician, you can still do research only and will be approved for direct research on humans (you need MD/DO to do do human research, I think), or go into academia, or pharmaceutical.

    If you still want a PhD, you can do MD/PhD or DO/PhD.

    What chemguy79 said, is true. You don't have enough laboratory experience to get a job right now in bio-research.

    DON'T go to pharmacy school. Too many of them already.
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    Sep 08, 2011 11:57 PM GMT
    ^ Jake Benson in medical school? Who'd have thought icon_smile.gif As if we weren't enough competition as it is lol
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    Sep 09, 2011 12:07 AM GMT
    commoncoll saidGo to medical/dental school. It will be good for you.


    I concur, especially because research doesn't pay well at all until you've sunk 10 years of your life into it. I'm finishing up a biotech phd at Stanford and I am not happy with the career tracks available to me. Average phd takes 5-6 years here and then you need 2-3 years of postdoctoral experience, then you get a decent job if you are networked well.

    If you have the option, go to med/dental school or even nursing. Guaranteed job, excellent pay, social status, plenty of positions so you can relocate to where ever you wish rather than following the industry... Once you have an MD, you can always go to neuroscience research as a postdoc (at the loss of a generous paycheck), you just get more options, more grant opportunities as an MD in research.
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    Sep 09, 2011 12:26 AM GMT
    Um. Medical school doesn't pay well until you've put at least 8 years into it either.

  • titus8229

    Posts: 84

    Sep 09, 2011 12:35 AM GMT
    I have a B.S. in molecular genetics with over two years of experience in cancer research and I can't find a position either. (maybe someone could hook me up) ;)
  • commoncoll

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    Sep 09, 2011 12:36 AM GMT
    bryanc_74 saidUm. Medical school doesn't pay well until you've put at least 8 years into it either.


    Overall in his lifetime, he will make more with MD/DO/DDS than a PhD while having about the same opportunities. As a dentist he will probably work less than the other three, but still a good lifestyle and great pay.

    In reality, medical/dental school is easier than a PhD program since you don't depend on external funding to continue experiments and don't live at the whim of your principal investigator. What if your experiments don't give good results? While you may write research papers or other theses, receiving a doctorate certainly doesn't depend on them.

    Depending on how high tiered the program is even with a PhD and two to three years of postdoctoral work, you may struggle to find a good job where you can do grant supported research. This does not happen with a clinician.