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This is an education-related post technically, but I'm posting it in the employment forums for a reason.

 

One being that I did my BS degree in 2004, and a combination of physical and mental illnesses rendered me... get this... "unemployable" by 2009.  Not kidding; I basically got kicked out of a scientific recruiting office back in 2009 due to not having worked since 2007.  Lesson learned from that? Don't get sick, mentally or physically, especially in a labor market depression like we're having now.

 

Well okay, that's not practical for any of us, is it now?

 

So I did what any rational guy would do.

 

I applied to a Master's degree program at the local university town, got in, and am about to complete it (3 weeks left!).  My Master's degree is going to be in Information Sciences, which is roughly where Computer Science, Sociology, English Literature, and Mathematics meet.  Yes, they do meet.  As a nod to my Biology major in my BS degree, I am doing the "chemical information" specialization offered within my Master's degree.

 

But then, I went through lots and lots of job interviews.  One would think that after having proved oneself by going through the work involved in a Master's degree (and the one I did is known for being particularly time-consuming, work-intensive, and difficult), that it would prove one's employability.

 

Not the case, apparently, as I just wasn't employable enough compared to my peers, all of whom had no "job gap".  Many of these peers also had less job experience than I did.  It's just that companies will rather hire someone with no background rather than someone with an existing but slightly risky background.  If by risky, I mean "has gotten ill once".  </rant>

 

So again, I did what any rational guy would do.

 

I applied to... get this, the ultimate measure of despair... PhD programs.  And got into one.  With a paycheck (!).  (This invalidates an informal rule I made up a few months ago, mainly that I am not allowed to receive money... obviously I was wrong!).  It barely pays a living wage and requires me to spend 80+ hours a week either in class or working, though.

 

However, it's in a field that I (and probably a lot of us here on CB) are passionate about: Health Informatics.

 

Which, for those who don't know, is roughly a cross between biomedical studies, computer science, sociology, and mathematics.  Almost the same as Information Sciences, but oriented towards medicine.  Appropriate for me since I once wanted to be a physician myself,  but that didn't work out due to physical and mental issues.

 

I'm expecting to finish the PhD coursework by 2016 (when I will be the tender young age of 32).  Official graduation (which requires thesis and some things comparable more to a complicated hazing ritual) would be later.

 

But the real endpoint of this is -- will it result in eventual financial solvency for me? The master's degree I did obviously did not achieve this endpoint as I had expected it to.  Maybe the PhD will, as I will be doing it at a reasonably esteemed program that has network connections to several big players in health care and pharmaceuticals (the very entities that deliver our psychiatry consultancies and meds!).

 

Anyways, bleh.  Sorry for the rant.  I would like to hear others' stories about taking advanced education when employment wasn't an option, and what the outcome was... and any advice for someone entering a graduate health sciences program.

 

 

 

 

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Ha, I had this post all typed out, and then I realized that you weren't necessarily looking for a job in Academe.  You might check out The Chronicle, though that is mostly geared towards jobs in Academe, but it has some good resources for Ph.D. candidates as well.

 

Unfortunately, I'm seeing more and more highly-educated people not getting the jobs that they think they would be getting.  I know a couple of people who did their Ph.D.s--one went into teaching (which is what he wanted), and the other, well . . . he has a Ph.D. in BioChemistry from Northwestern, and he's pretty much a lab rat, very underpaid.  The difference between the two is generational.  The teacher came up in a world where degree = job, so he was pretty lucky.  It's just really hard to say.  The jobs reports that I've read says that it seems that more these days, it depends a lot on who you know, so maybe your connections via your doctorate would be really beneficial for you.

 

I wish I had better news for you.  :/

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I agree with megan ... making any connections you can as soon as you can would be great because sometimes it is by word-of-mouth that a person finds a job.

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I was a similar age when I finished my program.  But I already had a previous teaching career, publication record, and lab management experience in my field.  Most of the people I was in grad school with had prior job experience in our fields to back up our job searches after we graduated.  (sorry, that wasn't a very encouraging way to start a response but its the truth of my personal experience)

 

I second Megan's suggestion of checking The Chronicle and other academe-oriented clearinghouses even if teaching is not your primary goal.  A way to get respectable stuff on the resume besides conventional jobs is 3-12 month research or teaching fellowships.  These can range from modest entry-level to elite.  The key is the term "fellowship" in filtering searches in large databases like The Chronicle.  These are not permanent hire situations so they are sometimes more open to taking a temporary risk on someone who seems particularly interesting but relatively inexperienced (or otherwise "untested" in formal employment).  These are often paid, sort of, but in "stipend" form rather than "salary".  There are all kinds of reasons why this seemingly trivial semantic difference exists, but in any case landing a few fellowships soon out of school can help a great deal.  Specifically how much it helps will depend on your field, location, and long-term goals.  I've seen people transition into "regular" jobs or launch into the research grant and lecture circuit based on work performed during post-grad/doc fellowships.

Edited by CirclesOfConfusion

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Unfortunately, a Ph.D. does not guarantee a job in academia (except maybe a bunch of adjunct positions if you're in the U.S.--without lab space or benefits and frequently w/o office space) or in the industry for that matter.

 

That said, given your background, you might be able to market yourself as a biostatistician upon earning your Ph.D. and work for private companies (assuming that you use stats a lot in your grad work of course). I do think that pre-grad school work gaps would less important at that point.

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Trust me, benefits are hard to come by in adjunct-land.

 

Honestly, what it comes down to is that the PhD track generally only leads to something resembling permanent employment if you're willing to grind through years of applying to absolutely everything and willing to move to just about anywhere that will give you those first few chances to prove yourself.

 

Word of mouth can help significantly.  Make sure that people who feel you do good work know something about what you're interested in doing next so they can keep an eye out for opportunities.  Do them the reciprocal favor of talking up their latest or most exciting work whenever it seems relevant.  

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Hey folks,

 

The feedback (or should I say, *reality*) was a lot harsher than expected, but thanks for all these hints and suggestions!!  Even my academic advisers wouldn't divulge as much detail as y'all have done!

 

I see that most people here are thinking of the health informatics PhD as a biosciences PhD (heck, my dad has a PhD in chemistry!), but at least where I will be at, health informatics will be about data and processing, etc.  Quite separate from the conventional idea of a biomedical lab (and trust me, I myself have worked in those labs as a 'pipette monkey' and know their culture too).  If I'm so inclined, I could track myself into hardcore computer engineering.

 

As far as networking, well, I networked my butt off during my MS curriculum program.  Most faculty in the department I'm in have rave reviews of me, and all provided positive references and letters of recommendation.  I really didn't want to resort to doing a PhD.  I spent hours a day networking and attempting to find a job via the career services provided by my university.  Almost every single recruiter I encountered during three university recruiting fairs explicitly threw a hissy fit at my job gap.  Once, it was literally explicit (the recruiter dropped the F-bomb during our interview when he noticed the job gap on my resume, as he wanted to hire me and knew that HR wouldn't buy it). :D

 

(Note: HR didn't buy it -- I was very close to having gotten a six-figure job with that company but ended up rejected despite the hiring manager's pleas -- all due to job gap.)

 

The end result? I've been through at least 15 job interviews via the recruiting system and none were fruitful.  Some of it was the fact that my current MS degree fits more into business than it does into software engineering, and recruiting was only available for the latter, minus that one position that was asking for a health data analyst (unfortunately, an analyst without a job gap, so I didn't fit the description) :wall: .

 

Beyond that? I think it's all about the job gap.  In our current labor market depression, there is no getting over that obstacle.  Once I had a job gap, I blew my only chance and am in for hell for good.  I just hope that a super-advanced degree in health informatics is going to get me something at a pharmaceutical company/hospital/big data firm/etc., since my current MS degree didn't cover that job gap well enough, apparently.

 

Lastly, while I would love to teach (if y'all can't tell by my, uh, sort of lectury style), I think y'all are correct in that universities would probably only be able to offer me adjunct positions in this labor depression.  Things may change in three years when I graduate, but I doubt it.

 

I suppose the only things left, then, are philosophical, and I should be thankful for them.  I will be paid a living wage in doing my PhD and likely the rest of my life in low-paying research assistant positions, the state I live in guarantees high-risk health insurance for all residents (at a $500/mo. cost, granted), and even though I might not be able to reach for the American dream ever, at least I'm not on fire. :smartass:

 

---

 

EDIT: For those who are interested, yes, I do have a pretty hardcore stats background, even with calculus-based theoretical stats.  So hardcore that I almost got a teaching assistantship for the information science stats class in my department -- until accounting dropped the offer (and the course!!!) entirely.  Needless to say, neither my fellow students nor I were happy with this move.  :wall:

Edited by LikeMinded

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Beyond that? I think it's all about the job gap.  In our current labor market depression, there is no getting over that obstacle.  Once I had a job gap, I blew my only chance and am in for hell for good. 

 

I'm not trying to be a dick here.  Really.  But "In our current labor market depression" means that there are going to be a lot of people out there with job gaps.  Yes, it can be hard getting over that hump, but I just don't see it being the ONLY reason you're not getting a job.  Are people asking you the reason for your gap in employment?  I re-read your first post, but I wasn't really clear as to the reason for your employment gap, just that there was one.  If you don't want to divulge that information, that's perfectly fine, but as you know, it's a question a lot of people in HR ask.  Is it possible that your answer to that question is somehow turning them off?

 

I've had employment gaps of a couple of months here and there--no big deal really--but I really wonder how I am going to handle a big gap in my employment like the one I'm in now should I re-enter the workforce.  I've decided to take a "oh, I was sick for a little while there, but all better now!" approach, but I honestly don't know how well that will pan-out for me.  I would think that if someone wanted to hire me badly enough, they'd be willing to accept that I was sick for a little while, but am not totally worthless.  So, maybe I'm speaking out of turn.

 

The other thing that made me cock my head was your mention of a six-figure salary.  Are these the only jobs you are trying to get or was just that a really nice perk?  I know people with Ph.D's that feel pretty fortunate to pull down $50k a year.  I know of one institution that pays their professors about $22k a year--FOR PEOPLE WITH PH.D.s!  Talk about underpaid.  It's obscene, frankly, but people take those jobs because they need a job.

 

I know you've said you've worked with recruiters on your campus, but have you tried headhunters?  Might be something to research and kick around.

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The other thing that made me cock my head was your mention of a six-figure salary.  Are these the only jobs you are trying to get or was just that a really nice perk?  I know people with Ph.D's that feel pretty fortunate to pull down $50k a year.  I know of one institution that pays their professors about $22k a year--FOR PEOPLE WITH PH.D.s!  Talk about underpaid.  It's obscene, frankly, but people take those jobs because they need a job.

Megan's right about the salary reality.  There is a wealth of statistics showing the poor condition of salary trends.  

 

There's a ridiculous amount of competition for poverty-level full-time adjunct jobs.  We all have credentials up the wazoo.  $22k is above average for full time adjunct work, but few adjuncts get offered enough courses to be full time consistently, if ever.  And unlike almost any other industry, somehow we do not qualify for benefits when above half time or occasionally even at full time status.  I'm in a poorly paid discipline where nobody but global superstars get anywhere near 6 figures.  People who put in 30 years post-tenure don't get anywhere near 6 figures.  

 

Right now I work 4 different teaching jobs at 4 different places.  Simultaneously.  I shit you not that I still qualify for Earned Income Credit on my taxes because the pay is borderline poverty.  I know adjuncts who qualify for food stamps.  But the reality is that new opportunities are mainly offered to people who show that they want it THAT intensely and will work their asses off to make the most of anything they can get.

 

Just take ANY opportunity to get the ball rolling.  Paid, unpaid, it doesn't matter when it comes to just racking up experience that accumulates and pushes previous job gaps off the first-line radar.

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megan--

There's no reason to feel like you're acting like a dick here.  I welcome honest suggestions and questions.  While I am trying to figure out whether or not it is the job gap that's screwed me over, analytically speaking, the job gap is the only difference between myself and my hired peers.  And for what it's worth, it was due to the fact I suffered a recalcitrant sinus staph infection that spread to my brain.  I was pretty honest about the situation with employers, especially ones in the healthcare field, as I figured they'd view it as a plus that I myself had gone through the medical system.  But a two year gap at some companies will not go through HR (again, I was told this explicitly by more than one recruiter).  Especially companies that pay six figures as perks.  (Well, okay, I've had many lower-paying positions reject me too for probably the same reason...)

 

CirclesofConfusion--

I really liked your advice.  Don't be down because you were harsh/blunt -- that is what is often needed, anyways.  It is also useful to hear about your own experiences as an adjunct instructor.  Whether or not I go into academia is up in the air now.  Nonetheless, I *do* show "it" intensely, with many white paper publications under my name... and a department-certified passion for the field.  I would have not even applied for a PhD in health informatics otherwise, and the program I got into is extremely selective apparently.  I know we're going hardcore nerd here in this discussion, but one of my MS degree professors expects to publish a paper with me as one of the main co-authors before I even start my PhD.

 

Nonetheless, I don't know how much of the future is up to me.  I'm going to do the best that I can, but my fate is ultimately up to the decision makers above me...

Edited by LikeMinded

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The trick is that it takes forever to get a paper accepted and published, so start early and often--as you are doing.

 

My guess is that the work gap is hurting you wrt finding a job, even though it's not fair.

 

I think that you have a decent chance of succeeding (but in academia, "success" might amount to adjuncting because once you start adjuncting, you'll have no time to do your own research and write up the results--even if you don't actually require a lab to do your own stuff). Tenure-track jobs are becoming nonexistent, and adjuncting is a vicious cycle and hard to break out of.

 

The biostats angle could definitely work for you wrt landing a job in the industry although by the time you graduate, many other science-flavor Ph.D.s will have gone that route, so you'll really have to be great (although it sounds like you are good, so it could be doable). 

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Health Informatics, LikeMinded, really really sounds like an advanced degree which would be of interest to the home office of insurance companies.  And there are a LOT of insurance companies dealing, with medical, disability, life, and dental - all of which involve health and information, and statistics and computers.

 

True, you would be working for the 'dark side' but the pay would be decent and the benefits excellent.  In fact maybe the government and all the craziness coming from health care reform (Affordable Care Act) might also be a career opportunity.

Edited by bpladybug

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Health Informatics, LikeMinded, really really sounds like an advanced degree which would be of interest to the home office of insurance companies.  And there are a LOT of insurance companies dealing, with medical, disability, life, and dental - all of which involve health and information, and statistics and computers.

 

True, you would be working for the 'dark side' but the pay would be decent and the benefits excellent.  In fact maybe the government and all the craziness coming from health care reform (Affordable Care Act) might also be a career opportunity.

 

DING DING DING! As a fellow (former) insurance agent, I second this. 

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Beyond that? I think it's all about the job gap.  In our current labor market depression, there is no getting over that obstacle.  Once I had a job gap, I blew my only chance and am in for hell for good.  I just hope that a super-advanced degree in health informatics is going to get me something at a pharmaceutical company/hospital/big data firm/etc., since my current MS degree didn't cover that job gap well enough, apparently.

 

I think you are being too hard on yourself.  A job gap is not the end of the world, and if you think there's no getting around it, that will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.   

 

Before I got my current job, I had a two year job gap due to a depressive episode.  Especially since I work in a very conservative technical field, I certainly wasn't going to tell anyone about it.  So my story line was that I was taking care of an ill family member, I just never mentioned that the family member was me.  One head-hunter I spoke with told me that I should say that I was on sabbatical, and leave it at that. 

 

In your post you come across as having a bit of a chip on your shoulder, which is understandable.  But if there's even a miniscule undercurrent of that when you're interviewing, it will kill your chances, and the excuse you're told may be the job gap because it's easier to explain to you and doesn't leave a prospective employer open to charges of unfair hiring practices. 

 

Sorry I'm coming across as a jerk, it's just that right now I'm working with someone who also talks about how one mistake has ended his career, and it's not true, but since he talks about it a lot, it's not winning him any friends.  

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In your post you come across as having a bit of a chip on your shoulder, which is understandable.  But if there's even a miniscule undercurrent of that when you're interviewing, it will kill your chances, and the excuse you're told may be the job gap because it's easier to explain to you and doesn't leave a prospective employer open to charges of unfair hiring practices. 

 

Sorry I'm coming across as a jerk, it's just that right now I'm working with someone who also talks about how one mistake has ended his career, and it's not true, but since he talks about it a lot, it's not winning him any friends.  

 

I think Catnapper makes some good points here about the subtly negative stuff that we unintentionally broadcast through our underlying subconscious attitudes about both internal and external situations.  

 

I certainly struggle with this in waves that come and go.  I do sometimes let my frustrations get the best of me when combined with too many other related stressors.  And it is hard to even decipher (we only have so much perceptive range available to us at any given time) what "reality" is; what might be a situational problem, what might be a personal problem or shortcoming, and what can and can't be done about any of it.  

 

It is sometimes said that the driver of creativity and creative work inherently carries with it the subtext that something is currently not satisfactory and then becomes an interesting creative exercise to try devising "improvements".  In my opinion creative process is the broad act of asking probing questions, generating hypotheses, inventing ways to test that, and finally manifesting that newly synthesized inspiration and information into something "real".  Its not limited to the arts, but also includes things like scientific research.  I can understand how that mostly subconscious undercurrent of inherent discontent can easily combine with identifiable examples of negative experiences to become a sort of persistent sore spot.  I definitely understand how hard it is to recognize then readjust those habits of mind into something more productive.  

 

If that is indeed a factor for you too, then you're on the right track toward that in terms of simply taking the first step of putting yourself out there and asking for honest opinions.  It helps that you're indicating that you're trying to listen and accept the feedback as the first step to digesting that information and then putting to use whatever you gain from that exercise in self-reflection.

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Good point brought up about the "chip on the shoulder" paradigm.  There have been a couple of interviews I may have blown due to that.  However, as for the remainder, I was *very* directly confronted with the job gap issue; the recruiters brought it up even before I could and sometimes even in a hostile manner.... usually to the tone of "Why weren't you working between 2007-2010?!"  (n.b. to self: Don't waste time with employers who ask you that at recruiting fairs.)

 

Again, that's where I have to come out explicitly and (for healthcare companies) disclose the physical illness that held me back from education and employment.  I don't think chronic sinusitis/meningitis in and of itself, at least after treatment, would significantly affect one's on the job performance.  At least one employer was sympathetic (their policy was to match students to jobs based solely on accumulated education/experience), but unfortunately the job didn't work out since my skills were in a completely different area from what the job required.  Another employer was also very sympathetic (claiming I had great talent beyond anybody else they'd seen), but note that their recruiter was the one who dropped the F-bomb on me when he noticed the job gap in my resume...

 

Of note, HR is pretty stodgy in the region of the world I live in (Midwestern USA).  We do have work postings that explicitly say "REQUIRED: SOLID WORK HISTORY", although these are mainly for positions that involve heavy physical labor. 

 

From there, it's a quantitative issue.  Now that >50% of employers have shunned me due to their risk aversion, it's twice as hard for me to get a job.  Sure I've got minute flaws here and there on my resume (which people have pointed to me as being virtually perfect, except for the fact that it has a gap!), and I suspect that employers are hijacking any flaws to use as an excuse to not hire me when their actual intention is to avoid someone "unreliable".  Let's be honest here: If I've got a chip on my shoulder about unemployment, that chip was made from the world's largest potato. :smartass:  In fact (no joke), my pdoc said that I was bordering on PTSD criteria due to the situation!

 

Fortunately, the PhD program provides for research and adjunct-teaching assistantship jobs.  In fact, these are mandatory starting in year #3, thus putting me into a job/job(s).  Providing I don't get asked "so how did you get that job?" by potential employers after that (yes, I was asked this once a few years ago with regards to prior employment!), I'll be okay.

 

And in particular, I enjoyed CirclesofConfusion's most recent post.  Creativity is, like you said, not limited to the fine arts.  I have been creative in computer programming and biology (this can either lead to great admiration, or, alternately, going against the culture of the laboratory).  In the last job I worked (circa 2007), creativity led to both simultaneously, from the same people.  It was a bit strange, to be honest.  Fortunately, I have a positive reference from that lab and should be thankful for it =)

 

Lastly, as Catnapper implied, I probably shouldn't be so hard on myself and instead hire a headhunter once my PhD endeavors are complete.

 

After all, most of what I judged myself on laid upon my parents' expectations that I would grow up normally and have a normal job, and that they could brag about how they wonderfully raised their child and how he became a top scientist/doctor/analyst/etc.  Unfortunately, they didn't note the fact that MI runs in the family, nor did they foresee my disability through infection and the subsequent incompetence of the medical system to get rid of said infection.  While I don't want to blame everything on the parents as Freud was tempted to do, I suppose I can say that much of my perfectionist mentality is due to my upbringing.

 

And as for working with "the enemy"... I may end up having to do so, simply out of financial need.  However, the PhD program I'm enrolled in is mostly funded by a non-profit medical institute dedicated to maximizing the quality of healthcare and reducing its cost.  After the PhD, though, I may well be forced to help insurance companies profiteer off of the disabled... again, out of financial need.  I guess in this society, financial need goes against what is morally correct...

 

But anyways, thank you all for hearing me out and making a constructive discussion regarding the situation.  I think more than one of us besides me has experienced or will experience similar conditions and this discussion will benefit all of us.

Edited by LikeMinded

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And in particular, I enjoyed CirclesofConfusion's most recent post.  Creativity is, like you said, not limited to the fine arts.  I have been creative in computer programming and biology (this can either lead to great admiration, or, alternately, going against the culture of the laboratory).  In the last job I worked (circa 2007), creativity led to both simultaneously, from the same people.  It was a bit strange, to be honest.  Fortunately, I have a positive reference from that lab and should be thankful for it =)

What I wrote was meant as a reflection on a bit of humility I gained by honestly looking at the my relationship to the notion of creativity from some not-as-flattering angles.  Please do not take what I wrote as validation or vindication of past circumstances.  The quote above reads like an attempt to use my words to justify continuing existing approaches and attitudes.  That was not my intent.

 

I certainly did not intend to promote the idea that when "creativity" is "misunderstood" that we bear no responsibility in the supposed misunderstanding.  Quite the contrary, I suggest actively peeling back layers of personal assumptions about why things are the way they are.

 

My intent was to empathize with the struggle to reflect honestly on our own, sometimes unwitting, tendencies to shoot ourselves in the foot or unnecessarily carry around chips on our shoulders.  

 

I will tell you that the best things I learned about how to apply and interview successfully were taught to me by my own students.  Daily classroom contact allows little room for inauthentic "acts".  Students (and potential employers) can smell bullshit miles away.  Bringing a chip on my shoulder to class only cripples my ability to see things insightfully, clearly, and most importantly for classroom purposes, fairly.  On a daily basis, verbal and nonverbal student feedback clues me into where my attitudes, intents, and actions do and don't align well.  If my underlying attitude is shitty and I try to act my way around it, then the actions can come off as fake or disingenuous and the intent viewed with suspicion.

 

What I'm trying to say is that unless I recognize, reflect on, and readjust my attitudes, it doesn't matter how amazing my resume is or how well I script my interview/classroom spiel.  99.9% of the time we are doing off-script improv and our true colors show through easily with every subconscious facial expression, body language, word choice, and tone of voice.  

 

Focusing only on technicalities like job gaps shifts too much blame onto others.  Focusing only on shrewdly gaming the system is not really a sustainable approach (not saying you do that but its worth pointing out).  The variables in the "game" we can and should control are our own personal terms of engagement.  (Like the difference between students who focus only on concocting what they think I want to hear and those who engage honestly with the material on their terms.)

 

In academic hiring practices, illustration of personal terms of engagement are partially embodied in the ubiquitous required teaching philosophy statements.  I am sure you are familiar with this.  This is among the hardest of the application documents to fully develop because it requires an intense level of soul searching combined with intellectual, procedural, and pedagogical savvy in your discipline.  But once you have thought through these deeply embedded habits of mind and how they guide your day-to-day practice, it becomes much more natural to act with fluid confidence and integrity on that improv basis I mentioned earlier.

 

Why do I spend this much effort discussing academia-related assessment methods even though you're not necessarily interested in teaching?  One, because you're already familiar with that paradigm so we have that as a common reference point.  Two, because the idea of a teaching philosophy is basically just a specialized version of a "mission statement".  Those are different than project proposals because the focus is on HOW you work more so than WHAT you work on.  If you can put together a mission statement of sorts for your approach to health informatics, theoretical research, clinical research, public health, whatever the focus of the job type is, then you will be better equipped with underlying guiding tenets embedded in your thought process that can cohesively guide your interactions with potential employers.  

 

Sorry that got so long, but it took some background explanation to get to my main point.

 

Dig to your core understanding of your discipline, your core beliefs related to the discipline's or employer's missions, and your core motivations for wanting to be a part of those things.  It's quite a revealing exercise that helps to align many professional ideas and actions, sort of like how yoga exercises align many parts of our personal selves.

 

Underlying mindset will show through for better or worse.

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Of course, CirclesofConfusion, I do understand the side of creativity that you presented.  My apologies for only discussing how I felt creative.  There are reasons my creativity (as described earlier) was misunderstood, and it's quite likely that the "misunderstanding" may have been on my part at times.

 

Blaming stuff on my job gap? I think that one's rational with respect to not finding a corporate job right now, and will stand my ground on that position.  Rather than have a chip on my shoulder about the situation, though, I should probably change myself to realize that there are other pathways for me and that a regular job just wasn't my pathway/was irrational to seek at the time.  I can't change the job market, but I can change how I engage with it.  To that end, I probably should not view the PhD as a "solution to unemployability", but rather, "a route of  wisdom to take, one that will benefit myself and society at large".  Providing I do the PhD right.

 

Back to creativity... I think I understand your concept of the term a bit more now.  Rather than only apply it to the discipline, one has to apply it to the self.  I am glad you have been willing to discuss these teaching-related points with me.  I think they're also relevant to any discipline.  Pedagogy is an important part of the program I selected, and I'm already trying to learn (hypothetically) what it's like to be the teacher and not the student.  Mindfulness, such as putting oneself in the student's shoes, will probably play a key in how well I succeed there.

 

And of course, because of my thus-far lack of education, I have never taught a course on my own before.  It will be interesting to see how I pan out as a teacher.  I am sure it will involve a *lot* of mindset shifting so that I can deliver what's best for my students.

 

Given that I have a year of studies to develop my personal, academic, and teaching goals, I will keep in mind what you have stated.  And I'll make mission statements and terms of personal engagement as they become clearer to me.

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