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Leaving job and taking time off before applying?


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Right after graduation this year, I went home to visit family before I moved for my new job. It was during this short visit that my brother committed suicide, and I found him in his room. I've since moved, as planned, for my new job, but I am unhappy and upset. I want to be with my family. Unfortunately, there aren't any related (lab) jobs that I can find where my family lives. Moreover, there isn't even a university where I could take a few classes. (Though there is one an hour away)... I want to leave, and go home, but I also don't want to make a decision that will badly influence my grad school applications later. Does anyone have advice?

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After graduation I started an academic lab job away from home, but hated being there and became so depressed that I quit after 3 months. A few months later, I started working as a contract hire for a phameceutical company, then moved on to an industry job. I finally got another academic job 1.5 years after I quit the first one. I worked there for a few years, then money ran out and I started working another academic job for 9 months before I applied to grad school (stayed for 1.5 years total).

My boyfriend (I didn't know him at the time) worked a lab job right out of college but his PI left the country so he had to get a retail job. After that, he landed a job in industry in his hometown and had to stay there and help his mother/brothers after a nasty divorce. Six years later the house was paid off so he applied to graduate school. I should also mention that the year before he aplied he started volunteering at a local academic lab on his days off.

My point is, if you need to go be with your family, then do so. My dad died my senior year of high school and at the time I wanted to spend a lot more time with his side of my family. Do what is best for you right now- don't stay miserable because of your career. You can find a way back like my boyfriend and I both did. We have both begun a biomedical PhD program in a place we are happy to be. If you have to take more time off than you planned, it will be okay, as long as you keep working on a plan to get back on track. I had a low GPA in undergrad, so I needed a lot more lab experience before applying. My boyfriend had a solid GPA from a good school, so he didn't need as much academic lab experience as me. What's important is to stay up-to-date on your area of interest. Read free articles online, or buy an advanced textbook. I hated my contract job, but I used the company's journal access to read Science and Nature every week to kep up with where things were headed. My boyfriend used a technique at his job in the easiest way possible, but he got an advanced text and read all that he could. When you do apply, admissions committees will be able to tell that you've stayed interested in furthering your education but had some derailments you had to work through.

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You need to do what is best for you. If you need to go home, then you need to go home. If there are no science jobs at home, find a job and try to volunteer in a lab part time.

In regards to your current position, how long have you been there? Keep in mind that it can take a long time to get adjusted to a new city and job. Every time I have started one, I hated it for the first few months but then I later adjust. Try to get out and meet people and explore the area, as this will help you get adjusted. You might consider talking to a psychologist or a support group or something about what has happened

In the end, you need to decide what will be the best for you and then you can work on your grad apps later when rl has settled down

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First off, I am very sorry for your loss. I will add my own anecdotal evidence to the above: after I finished my M.S., I planned to take 3-4 months off and spend with family. My aunt died suddenly at the beginning of this. Despite how long it ended up taking me afterwards to find a steady job and eventually go back to school, I will always be grateful for that time I was able to spend with family, esp. my grandparents. Income and savings can ultimately be replaced, but not quality time with your loved ones when it's most needed (g'parents have since passed away).

In contrast, one of my best friends' lost her mom quite suddenly, with whom she was extremely close. Her corporate job had just transferred her to a new dept., so to please them, she decided to "buck up" and keep working, while having autoimmune problems of her own and settling her mom's affairs. This took it's toll mentally and physically; she ended up having a stroke from the stress and not allowing the time to properly grieve.

You will find your way back to an academic setting. The suggestions above to stay current with your field through reading are good ones. It's something you can do while at home, but also will take your mind off heavy emotional stuff and remind you of why you're excited about your chosen field. A "Nature" subscription is doable at $39/year, as well as keeping current with society memberships and their publications. Right now make the best decision for your health, well-being, and your family.

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