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Alternative Careers in Science: Leaving the Ivory Tower (Scientific Survival Skills) Paperback – 4 Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Academic Press Inc; 2nd Revised edition edition (4 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0125893760
  • ISBN-13: 978-0125893763
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 472,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"After my Ph.D. I realized that although I enjoyed science, I felt that my skills might be better applied to enabling the application of science within a more commercial context. Reading the experiences of others in this book gave me the confidence to move into another area of work. After spending two years in university technology transfer, I now negotiate Strategic Alliances on behalf of Pfizer and use my scientific knowledge and experience on a day-to-day basis." -Philip McGurk, Pfizer, California, U.S.A.

About the Author

Cynthia Robbins-Roth, Ph.D., left academia to pursue a science career in the then-emerging biotechnology industry. Her career detoured through business development before her entrepreneurial spirit compelled her to start up her own biotechnology consulting and publishing business, BioVenture. Because of her scientific insight, irreverent manner, and ebullient nature, Dr. Robbins-Roth is a popular speaker on alternative careers for scientists, as well as a recognized biotech industry expert.

Inside This Book

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It all began so innocently-back in 1984, I was happily running gels and killing tumors in mice. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Rockalocket on 11 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book & found it to be quite helpful & informative.

It was laid out clearly & in such a way that it was easy to find advice & information on exactly what I was looking for.

It provides plenty of alternatives to lab work for PhD graduates & I would highly recommend it to my peers & colleagues.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
warning 5 Nov. 2007
By LW - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The case studies are entirely on people in the biotech sector. Good ideas, but not as useful for people outside of this field. Would have been more accurate to call the book "Alternative Careers in Biotech."
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
outdated already 30 May 2006
By steve_oakland - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
-- FIRST REVIEW, 2006 -- see 2009 update below

The work environment for scientists changes quickly, and the path to changing careers changes as well. This book has been written by people who changed careers YEARS ago -- when minimal skill sets were sufficient to change careers. Learning how to use a word-processor in the 1980s was apparently enough to land you a job in writing or law. Knowing a bit of biology and how to use a computer was enough to get you into the field bioinformatics. Not anymore! This book offers little advice for what a competitive job market is like today, how and where to find employment, and what skills to acquire to take the plunge from lab to a different career.

------- UPDATE: JUNE 2009 ---------

I've still been thinking about this book and how useless it is. What do I recommend instead? In the years since I've made my first review of "Alternative Careers in Science," I've become interested in business-thinking, for lack of a better word, and I've taken a few classes in entrepreneurship and read a few business books. I highly recommend "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel H. Pink in place of "Alternative Careers in Science." "A Whole New Mind" isn't about leaving academia, specifically, but it is a good book to get you prepared for a transition and think about other skill sets and contacts you would need to explore to leave academia. I haven't completed the career transition myself, but "A Whole New Mind" has me off to a good start.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great reference book! 4 May 2007
By Lynn - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is a great source of information for graduate students and PhD's! I am currently a graduate student finishing up my thesis work in biomedical sciences. I decided that academia is not where I want to spend my future yet felt that I really did not know what other choices I had available that did not require yet another degree. There are far more career options available than I could have imagined on my own! I like that each career has a detailed description of a 'typical day' and what characteristics a person needs for each career. Also, each career alternative describes to varying degrees how we can start on those career paths. For the most part we can't expect to head our own venture capital firm or lead a business development team in a major pharmaceutical company after graduation. But we can certainly learn how best to go about getting to that stage at some point because the book describes what job skills are needed for each profession.

For those of us who like to do a little job searching in our spare time, a lot of chapters include websites where jobs are posted. This is a great source to find out what entry level positions are available for people looking to get out of the lab. Probably one of the most important things is I have learned from reading this book is that I have acquired a much bigger skill set than just how to do bench work. This book by no means informs us how to land the jobs we desire, but it is truely a great reference manual for those of us who are clueless about life outside of academia.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
good overview 9 Jan. 2007
By neuroReviewer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am a postdoc searching for a new career to get into. Even though I love science I am tired about the politics and grant situations that get worse and worse. I bought this book and read it. Even though it of course does not cover all possibilities it gives you some good new ideas of what you could look into. It is written by people who actually did the step to leave science. Most of them describe you briefly what their way was like, give you some information on what their current job is like in comparison to their former science job (the pros and cons), describe an average workday and finally give you some information on how you could get there. Those chapters are great. But there are also some chapters in which the authors used the space to point out how great of a person they are and how they succeeded because of luck and courrage. Those chapters are less useful because they don't give you any information of how YOU could try to get to a similar position. However, they do show that life isn't over when you quit science. There are tons of possibilities out there waiting to be found by you. In summary: definetely a book to read if you are trying to decide if you want to stay in or leave science...
Fantastic survey for bio-researchers looking to transition from academia 15 Feb. 2015
By Baruch Harris - Published on
Format: Paperback
Having transitioned from a PhD into the biotech / pharma world and now working in biotech / pharma for 12+ years, I get a lot of calls & emails from grad students and post docs looking to leave academia. I recommend this book to all of them. It is very easy & quick to read, and a fantastic first-step overview of the breadth of career options available to former academic scientists. Some important caveats:
1. It is pretty much limited to biology-related fields, so may not be much help to students of physics etc. Probably fairly useful for chemistry though.
2. As another reviewer mentioned it does not go into depth about the additional skill sets (and work!) that you need to do to successfully transition out of academia. And when someone tells a retrospective story about their life it can sound both easy and pre-ordained when in reality it was neither. Use the book as a high-level survey, dog-ear the pages of careers that sound good to you, and then investigate those further.
3. The list price is ridiculously high. Buy a used copy for $1.
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