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job search update II

Sabine Dippel sabine at hlrz28.zam.kfa-juelich.de
Mon Nov 17 03:53:37 EST 1997

Hi there,

I thought I'd update you on what came out of my job search - now that
it is over. (I'm relating all these stories here because I really enjoyed
Sarah's stories about her job search, and her stories from small college
life. I hope I will be able to tell about my life in industry at some 
point - I don't know how well I will be able to access this newsgroup 

Well, two weeks ago I went to the only job interview I had in industry,
in the research labs of a big company. Since I knew that I also had a 
post-doc position if this would not work out, I was quite relaxed, which,
I think, helped a lot. Still, there was some tension, because this job
just sounded so extremely interesting from the little I knew about it 
before. The interview lasted the whole day, I talked to many people,
which also involved a lot of them telling me about their work (though
only in the afternoon, after the morning's "real" interviews, after which
they decided they were really interested in having me). After this whole 
day, I was sure that I found the research they were doing very interesting,
and that I would get along very well with the people working there. Well,
they thought that I was the perfect person for the job, told me I was their
number one, interviewed two more candidates on their list, and then made 
me an offer which I accepted. 

The reactions to this were surprising. While my advisor (who had known 
about my search, and about this interview) seemed to be put off by my
acceptance of the job, the people in France with whom I was planning to
do a post-doc (and who lost a collaborator who would have brought in her
own money) reacted quite positive, telling me that sure, they were sorry 
to lose me, but that the job I found sounded so good that they congratulated
me on it. I think the reason is that in France, the crucial job search comes
right after the PhD (or after a single post-doc), so that professors see 
far more closely how good or bad the situation is for their graduates. Besides,
the job situtation there has been very good for a long time, and suddenly got
very bad, while in Germany, just (as I think) in the US, it was and is a very 
slow process, which people have trouble to notice.  

To get back to the interview -- I think it helped me tremendously that I had
prepared very well for it. I was lucky to have stumbled upon someone (the 
friend of a friend) who had interviewed with the same company only a few 
months ago (the also offered him a job, but he took another offer) and who
could tell me exactly what to expect. I also glanced into various books on 
the subject, and even though I did not rehearse my answers to typical 
questions (as some of these books suggest) at least I thought about possible
answers. Very often, it was very clear what my interviewers wanted to hear --
but I did not always tell them so, which came across pretty well, I think --
far better than streamlined answers would have (however, one has to be 
careful with this -- sometimes you just have to tell them what they want 
to hear). Anyway, what I want to say to anyone out there considering applying
for a job in industry: get as much information as possible before the interview,
from whatever source you can think of, and prepare by considering what you 
would answer to certain questions. Still, be honest! (Considering what you 
would answer means "think about what truth to tell and what truth to withhold",
but always be honest - these people are not dumb and will notice it. )

Well, we'll see how much I like working in industry, but going into industrial
research seems to be a relatively smooth transition -- some things change,
some remain the same as compared to academic research. The good thing is that
in Germany, it is relatively easy to go back to university if one realizes 
that one does not want to stay in industry. This particular lab has a good
record of people moving into professorships from there -- so I might even 
come back. I you now ask "Why do you leave if you consider coming back?" 
my answer is that I can also very well imagine to stay in industry -- and
that I have so many more options this way than I would staying in academic


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