/ Expedition after graduating and getting a job in science

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Red Rover - on 17 Jul 2014
I'll be finishing my PhD in a couple of years and I plan to go and do a big trip to Asia which will probably take a few months, something like the Mongol Rally. I'd like to have a job at the end of it and I was wondering how best to go about it. If I was offered a job before the trip I probably wouldn't want to turn it down so there'd a danger the trip wouldn't happen, but if I leave it until I get back and it takes a while I could end up with a big gap in the CV. I'm guessing you can't accept a job and defer for a few months, it seems a lot to ask.

What are your experiences of this kind of thing? Should I just go for it and be confident I can sort something when back home? My PhD is in computer modelling and making software for drug design and I was thinking of going into industry as a simulator/developer, computery stuff tends to be reasonably travel friendly but a big company might keep you on a shorter lead.

Cgeers
maisie - on 17 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

We (my now-wife and I) went travelling a couple of years after I graduated: it seemed like a good idea to get some experience in first, and make myself more employable. It also meant we had a lot more money to spend and we got work visas for Oz. Six months in Asia, a year in Australia and still able to negotiate the job market when I got back.

Doesn't mean you can't take some great short trips in the meantime, though ;-)

Martin
Red Rover - on 17 Jul 2014
In reply to maisie:

So you worked first? I suppose if I get a job before hand then I'm not starting from the bottom of the ladder when I get back. I'd only want a maximum of 6 months away so it would be easier to get it done before a job.
Alan M - on 17 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:
Personally I would say just go for it. I planned to travel after uni but opted for the job option first to pay of debts from uni and build up some funds etc. Life has a funny way of throwing things at you and changing perspectives in a relatively short period of time as commitments just appear whether that be financial, new relationships or family etc. Unfortunately, I became dependant on the steady income and a few other reasons that made it impractical. I have also been made redundant in the past, taken pay cuts and at risk of further redundancy etc etc. 9 years later I still haven't travelled to the places I dreamt of and doubt I ever will at this rate... simply can't afford to even think about an extended period away at the moment.

So before life sucks you in and you end up with commitments both financial and/or family and/or relationship related etc I vote for just go for it!!
Post edited at 22:00
richparry - on 17 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

You're young enough to get a work visa for Australia. Minimum wage is about $20 per hour. You're narrowing your horizons and you haven't even set off yet. You might decide there's much better places to be than the uk and won't want to return.

Once you get a job, as somebody else said, you can easily end up not being able to go anywhere as you'll be buying all sorts of stuff that you probably don't need. The more you earn, the more you spend. Then one day you'll realise you didn't do what you wanted to do, by which time its too late.

go for it and worry about it later.
IainRUK - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

If a job comes up I'd seriously consider taking it..

A science degree is handy.. a science degree with 1-2 years experience and good references is a different thing in job searches. The company may well let you take a sabbatical or just keep you in mind.

I never travelled but have just taken 4 months off work due to visa issues and struggling to get my foot back in the door somewhere new.

You sound more applied than me so probably more work. But although science is coming back jobs aren't easy, the good thing is we always need pharma.. those jobs stay.
Red Rover - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

Thanks for the advice when I posted that I was feeling a bit fed up as I'd spent 2 weeks sat i the rain in Norway so had a general feeling of being desperate to get something done. I'm a bit more relaxes now I think I'll just go for it.
Monk - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:
I went travelling for a few months after a short post doc. I had no money and nothing to come back to. I was unemployed for 3 months when I got back, living with my parents but soon got a decent job. I don't think it's done me any harm and it was a great experience. I certainly haven't had a similar opportunity since. I'd go for it!
Post edited at 23:04
maisie - on 18 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

Whilst I wouldn't want to discourage you from just going for it (live in the moment and all that kind of stuff), do be cynical about the kind of advice which implies that if you don't travel now, you'll get stuck in a job and thus be unable to do anything in the future. Life doesn't have to be like that: it's not an either/or choice.

I'm in my 40s, work freelance and just in the last year have visited Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and made a camper van trip round western Europe and Morocco. With a family in tow. I don't feel that tied down!

By all means be spontaneous, but don't be afraid to set yourself up in life; and don't make the mistake of thinking that this is your only chance: as you get older and more financially stable, plenty of opportunities will come your way.

Martin
Dax H - on 19 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

Travel whilst you can.
I planned a year out at 17 but decided to start work and save a bit first.
Now at 42 the traveling never happened and work commitments means it never will.
KingStapo - on 20 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

You should lie in any interview for a job about any big expo plans you have. If i was interviewing 2 equally or nearly so qualified types for a job, i'd take the one who wasn''t effing off for 6 months.

Red Rover - on 22 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

Thanks for the advice. I'm looking forward to getting a job as I enjoy what I do and wouldn't mind earning a bob or two along the way, so long as I can do a big trip before hand and go climbing in Norway regularly I'll be happy for a good few years as the last bit trip I did was only a month and it took me while to recover from.

Maisie what job do you have?
kathrync - on 22 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

I went to S. America for 3 months after my PhD. I had accepted a post-doc on the condition that I could defer starting until I got back and they didn't have any problems with that.

I think it very much depends on the employer.
Tom Last - on 22 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

Hey, don't know anything about this, but similar subject covered on The Life Scientific on R4 this morning. Worth a listen maybe once it up on iPlayer. Interviewee was Professor Carol Robinson.
Cheers.

Red Rover - on 22 Jul 2014
In reply to Tom Last:

Thanks I'll listen to it.
maisie - on 22 Jul 2014
In reply to Red Rover:

I'm a vet, which does allow me a certain freedom.

But within any job, getting a 3-4 week holiday oughtn't to be a massive issue, particularly if you're doing something fairly character building. I sympathise with all those who feel that their chances were lost through kids/mortgages/jobs, but honestly feel that they're talking b*ll*cks (with all due respect). We travelled quite widely from mid-20s to early 30s (with one big trip at the start and then smaller ones as and when funds permitted), then got our heads down and did kids and a mortgage, with the result that we paid off a cheap house a couple of years ago and started to travel again. We have no job security, no pension and no particular plan, but the house is ours and what used to go on the mortgage now goes into a travel fund. We won't be taking any big trips for at least ten years, when the kids are through school, but a month here and there will be happening and there's almost nowhere you can't reach in a month.

If you accept that you don't need a ridonculous house or flash car, travelling's easy to achieve.

Martin

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