Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why blog?

One of my biggest fears is that someone discovers who I am.  I thought that the likelihood was low because I don't really blog to get famous.  I blog because it's cathartic.  The interactions with other awesome people (well, I hope you're people and not bots) has been a great side effect (or affect...I never know which one).

On this note, someone I know in my real life discovered who I am.  Someone in a competing group within my company.  And groups within my company are cut-throat. We compete like rival companies compete so the threat of him trying to hurt me was real.  What the heck were the odds that someone would find me out?!?!?    He mentioned it in a passing fashion and said, "that must be you [in reference to a blog from a PhD in the med device industry], huh?". It seemed half-joking, but the timing of my posts with things that happened in my real life (especially the award I won a little while ago), made this person act more serious about the accusation.  I thought this person was going to out me.  They said they weren't, but everyone (including me) has let things slip that they shouldn't have.

This would have been very very detrimental if people here found about about the academic search.  Especially since I have two products getting ready for human studies.  If I got fired or moved around, this could potentially change the lives of the patients that might have relied on these products.  I was terrified.  So I left the blogosphere.  Well...I went private.  I needed to turn the identity off.  I still read everything I could, and not posting comments was killing me!  I couldn't risk any of my posts going public.  I know my comments weren't damning, but I felt I needed to switch off to protect my job, and the patients.  He said that he would keep it a secret, but we were one argument away from him letting everything loose.  My goal was to keep things private until I had an academic offer in-hand.  I try not to disclose anything that my company wouldn't want me to disclose, so I know I wouldn't get in trouble, but I couldn't risk losing my job or being shifted away from my projects.

Notice how everything's been past tense.  I got two offers shortly after taking the blog private, and so I thought that I was home free. But neither of these positions were right for me. Either I hated the city or the department, or both. Then something magical happened: the perfect school in one of my favorite cities gave me an offer. I thought I was home-free. I could quit my job, take this new one, and get back on the blogosphere.  As I was in negotiations with my new school another product of mine had been approved for human studies.  This has the potential to double efficacy for this particular therapy.  My involvement in this study is crucial. So I turned down what could be my dream job.  I can't leave patients in the lurch and thought there will be more opportunities. The department head said he was very disappointed, then a week later mentioned that I could start a year late. A year from this upcoming August, if I wanted. This was too perfect: I get to finish this human study and pass off my devices in a nearly complete stage, meaning patients will see it much sooner, and afterwards I get to start my dream job in a much more awesome city (not to mention-make my crazy high salary for another year)!  This also gives me a chance to work on grants early-on and submit and start running experiments as soon as I start the faculty post.  I know it may seem cocky that I think I'm the only one that can get this product past the first human studies, but I've been burned three times in the past when handing off projects to people. They've screwed them up bad in animal and human studies delaying release of the life-saving devices.

Everyone in my company knows I'm going to leave, and my final 1.5 years here gives me a chance to pass on a ton of knowledge and leave on great terms (helloooooooo industry money for the lab :) ). It also means, that even if this person does out me, it'll only make him look petty. So I don't have anything to lose. The paperwork has been signed.

I can start to post again!  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.  It feels so good.  Given that I haven't been able to post my writing, it reminded me about why I like to blog.  Below are a few disconnected thoughts related to why I like it.  In the next few posts I'll be posting things I wrote up but had to keep on the DL.  Some things related to the job search, and some things related to industry. Some might be a little outdated, as I wrote them while on hiatus.  Oh yeah...and there will be other random thoughts, too.  I'm worried that this guy will out me to my new faculty colleagues, but I'm not worried if people find out now.  I intend to try different things to make it difficult to tie me to the posts.  I intend to make it very difficult for people to link my Earth-self to my blogosphere-self.  In the next 1+ year I intend to post more on industry, my transition, and ultimately ending my industrial tenure...for a whole different type of tenure :).   Thank you to those that have emailed me about my little hiatus.  I am really pumped about interacting with all of you again!  I'm so excited to be coming back!


Why blog?

In the past couple of months I've done a lot of self-evaluation. I think my current situation is partly to blame in addition to the fact that writing all this stuff down in a blog causes one to reflect. The only friend that knows my real identity said that blogging would be a waste of my time.

I've said this before, but I'd like to reiterate. Blogging has been great to get things off my chest. I play things very political here on Earth, and try not to ruffle feathers.  So I rarely get to vent. It really is cathartic.   But in the the blogsphere, I can say anything I want.  Politics don't exist here (mostly).  But since politics don't exist here, it's a place of fantasy; hence the existence of trolls.  But as long as you don't feed them, they starve and die. 

Reading is cathartic, too, as many of the issues that plague research, work, life, etc. are universal. Something about knowing that RandomInternetPerson is having issues lets me realize that I'm not on an island. 

I'm constantly getting ideas for new projects at work/home and topics that I feel could make an interesting post. But I don't really have time to make really detailed posts all the time. So I try to keep my posts short (this one totally violates this principle) and I mostly read short posts.  I find that I don't have the patience for typing or reading really long posts. Not to mention, I type most of my posts on my phone while I'm on-the-go. So lengthy posts can wear my thumbs out. 

Aside from the psychological benefits of the blog, I also like to let people know about how searches go and how life is in industry. I'm sure my industrial position is different than others, but I'm sure there's overlap. And graduating students should get a feel for what it's like in industry, what it takes to succeed, what's great, and what sucks.

My friend that said blogging is a waste could possibly be correct, but I fear I'd turn into a psychopath without an outlet. Ted Kaczynski could've used a blog...


  1. Congrats! And welcome back! It was nice to see your blog come up on Academic Jungle's blogroll.

    I'm very surprised to read that you want to delay your start. Your ideas have a higher probability of getting scooped, plus it really seems like you don't like working in industry. Why delay it? I understand you want to help patients, but can't you leave a project in a good enough state to leave earlier?

    1. Thanks!

      I really can't leave the project to chance. I am concerned that something will get scooped, but I'm constantly coming up with ideas, so I'm actually not too worried. Thanks for the concern though :)

  2. Woot! It's great to have you back! And congratulations on landing the job of your dreams.

    1. Thanks Prof X!

      Let's see if I'm still dreaming a year into the job... :)

  3. Funny you mention the Kaczynski thing. I'm getting my PhD in Psych and my very first report was on how psychologically disturbed people would have benefited from the proper social contact. Maybe a blog could've substituted, lol!

  4. I've been in academia for six years, and I recently obtained tenure. That said, I'm looking for industry jobs. This is way too much of a grind with only those with connections getting the necessary grants. It's a never ending cycle of begging for money, dealing with politics, and affirmative action. You'll realize this next year and be begging to come back to industry. It's good you're leaving on good terms

  5. Wow! Anon @ 8:20 AM- I could have written the same comment!

    The live/work balance that I have an academic is not good, period. Between begging for money all the time, the politics, the extra service activities and the teaching, it is just too much. I do not mind the work, the problem is how much we have to do, which makes for a poor life/work balance. I have a family and I need more time/energy with them, I know what it takes to continue in the rat race, I just consider that it is totally not worth it.