Blizzards and the American Work Ethic

Posted in Career Advice

It’s been a while since my last blog post but the hysteria over the would-be blizzard of the century got me thinking again.  The Great Recession that began in 2008 (which appears to be over) has forced the American workforce to work harder (without commensurate increases in salary and vacation time) than ever before. Consequently, those who were lucky enough to retain their jobs are frequently stressed, fatigued and pushed to the breaking point. Therefore, it is not surprising (to me at least) for any excuse –like an exaggerated, overhyped blizzard–to not go to work!  Put simply, looking for cataclysmic climatic events to get the vacation time that employees so desperately need is not in the best interest of the American workforce!  Perhaps employers ought to allow employees to take more time off and guarantee them paid sick time rather than rely on blizzards to give their workers a much needed break.

The US economy seems to be in good shape as compared with the rest of the world.  Although American productivity is at a historical high, I do not think US workers will be able to maintain it into perpetuity. That said, the US greatest advantage over other countries in the world is ingenuity and innovation.  And, to innovate, people need time to think and identify the next “big thing”   And, while a snow day here or there may be restful, the time off is certainly not sufficient for workers to garner enough time to think about the next world-changing technology or innovation.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Digging Out (if you got any snow)


The Job Slog: Can a Larger Salary Really Buy You Happiness?

Posted in Career Advice

I am sure that many BioJobBlog readers have heard the old adage that money can’t buy happiness. The corollary to this statement is that it [money] sure helps! However, in a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, two Princeton University economists determined that there may indeed be something of a relationship between income and happiness. 

After analyzing more than 450,000 responses to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a daily survey of 1,000 US residents conducted by the Gallup Organization the authors concluded that:

When plotted against log income, life evaluation (thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it) rises steadily. Emotional well-being also rises with log income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of $75,000. Low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone. We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.

According to an article authored by Phyllis Korkki of the New York Times, Kahneman asserts that

“Many people want to make a lot of money, but the benefits of having a high income are ambiguous,” When you are wealthy you are able to buy more pleasures, he said, but a recent study suggests that wealthier people “seem to be less able to savor the small things in life.” He added, “Wanting money is not a recipe for disaster, but wanting money and not getting it — that’s a good recipe for disaster”

Many job and career counselors contend that working at a high paying but unsatisfying job may not be the best approach to life. For example, Korkki reported that Daniel Pink author and career advisor said that “Looking at lists of careers with the highest salaries tends to be a fool’s game.” Generally, people flourish when they’re doing something they like and what they’re good at” he added. Also, Nicholas Lore, a founder of a successful career coaching firm said “It all depends on priorities. Some people are willing to make lifestyle changes because the intrinsic rewards of following a passion or making a difference are more important than a high salary in an unenjoyable career.”

I think that the true relationship between money and happiness is best described by Lore when he said “Many people equate success with a high income, but, “How can someone say they’re successful if they’re not happy doing their work? To me, that’s not success.”

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!


Looking for a Postdoctoral Position? Check Out the Top 40 List

Posted in BioJobBuzz

While I don’t advocate postdoctoral positions for individuals unless they plan on doing bench science for the rest of their lives, postdoctoral training is a fact of life for those interested in pursuing academic careers. To that end, The conducts an annual survey that ranks the best 40 places for postdoctoral associates to work. The survey ranks the strengths and weaknesses of individual training institutions based on funding, facilities and infrastructure, benefits, training and mentoring and family and personal life. Surprisingly, institutions are also ranked on networking, career development and mentoring and training and mentor and training that they offer to their postdoctoral trainees.

The institution that snagged the top spot on the 2010 list was the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake, NY. Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate NY, the not-for-profit Trudeau Institute has a deserved international reputation in immunology, infectious diseases and vaccinology. When I was a graduate students (back in the dark ages), some of the greatest minds in infectious diseases held positions at Trudeau. These days; not so much—but I bet the skiing is great! Interestingly, one of Trudeau’s strengths is networking opportunities (how much networking can take place at a secluded institute on a lake in the Adirondacks). Curiously, however, one of its major weaknesses is the lack of career development opportunities. Based on my life experiences, I always thought that networking was a crucial part of career development. But then again, what do I know?

The top 10 of the list featured a couple of Massachusetts-based institutions including the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (3) and the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research Institute in Cambridge (4) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, MA (9). Two national laboratories, Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA (8) and Rocky Mountain Laboratory, NIH Hamilton, MT (6) cracked the top ten. By all accounts, the fly fishing is outstanding in Hamilton.

As usual, there were some surprises. These included Samuel Robert Noble Foundation (2) in Ardmore, OK, the University of Colorado, Denver (7) and the Mayo Clinic (10) in Rochester, MN (not exactly cities on my top ten list). Not surprisingly, there were only two life sciences companies that made the Top 40 list; Genentech (5) in South San Francisco and as mentioned above at number 3, the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research. Once a mainstay, industrial postdocs are becoming increasingly scare and difficult to land. In many cases, these positions are not advertised and generally filled by word-of-mouth recommendations to principal investigators who are looking for postdoctoral fellows.

A quick perusal of the list revealed, as expected, that most of the 40 institutions excelled in categories that included funding, facilities and infrastructure, benefits and family and personal life. In marked contrast, many of the institutions on the list were disappointingly weak in the areas of networking, career development and training and mentoring. Of the top 40, six got kudos for networking (15%), 11 for career development (28%) and only 6 for training and mentoring (15%). These abysmal statistics are somewhat shocking given that postdoctoral fellowships are mainly intended to train and prepare aspiring individuals for lifelong careers as scientists. The fact that only 25% of the nation’s best places to perform postdoctoral research offer career development training and support for postdoctoral trainees suggests that the future of the American life sciences industry may be in serious jeopardy!

Hat tip Ed at Pharmalot.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!


Contracting Has Been Very Good to Me!

Posted in Career Advice

For those of you who are interested, I wrote an article about contract work in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry that appeared in Science Careers about a week ago.

As many of you may know, I am a contractor so I can "walk the walk and talk the talk".  That said, for those of you looking for employment try contracting on for size.  You may like it!  Borrowing from Garrett Morris a fomer ’70s Saturday Night Live alum "Contracting has been berry  berry good to me"!

Until Next Time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!