So unfortunately, Cari and I have been super busy these past couple weeks and we don’t have an episode for you this week, BUT we promise that we have something exciting coming up.
Last episode, we asked you all if you’ve ever felt burnt out during your experience in graduate school or throughout life in general. We got some great responses, which is so awesome because we love hearing from you all. After hearing your responses, we decided we wanted to focus on different fields and experiences of people in our lives that have been in science and either have pursued academia or have taken a completely different path from science. Again let us know if you have any thoughts on this!
As far as burn out, I’d like to talk a little about the responses we got from our listeners. One of the most interesting things I heard from a listener was the impact that mental health and inclusivity has on individuals. These aspects aren’t something that Cari and I discussed as issues related to our own feelings of burn out, but they can effect other people. Academia and the sciences can often be difficult for your mental wellbeing. If you want to hear more about mental health you should listen to our podcast about it, but I think what is often missing in academia is empathy. Advisors and other individuals often do not understand that in order to do good work you need to maintain a healthy work-life balance and sound mental health. Without these important pieces I can understand why it would be so hard to continue in the field. Burn out may be unavoidable.
Additionally, the stress that academia puts on minorities is also daunting. While I believe it is easy to think that your department is completely inclusive, especially when it seems everyone is trying to show their inclusivity these days, there are pockets where minorities are treated differently. These differences can cause someone to become burn out simply because the environment they work in is toxic.
It’s really important if you are feeling burn out because of these issues that you seek out help. Many universities and programs have access to free resources to help students cope with these issues (well free is relative you probably pay for them in your fees so you should use them!). Additionally, a listener also brought up the importance of seeking out the disabilities services at your university.
Ultimately, I’m sure many people will feel the strain of burn out at some point. Right now I’m feeling burnt out because of research/a lack of trying something new. I’ve never taken a break from school or research except for a short summer where I was still surrounded by and thinking about grad school. This has left me feeling very happy with my decision to not pursue academia. I think I’ve also found other things that I enjoy much more (outreach and communication!!!). Outreach and communication make me feel like I’m making a tangible difference and using my skills to make the world a better place. While I’m sure I could accomplish this in academia, I think the stress and the culture would make it much more difficult.
Anyway, we’re sorry for the lack of an actual podcast this week but we hope that you’ll stay tuned for the 27th for an epic installation of Bugs&Stuff. If you have any insight into working in academia, leaving academia for another science related career, or getting out of science all together, we would love to hear it and maybe share it on the podcast with your permission of course. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Also I’m going to leave you with this article I read recently talking about leaving a PhD program. Hopefully it will help any of you that are struggling with this decision. At one point in the article, it is discussed that leaving an academic program could be seen as a career move rather than a failure. Please don’t think of yourself as a failiure if this is you. Everyone needs to make the best decision for themselves in order to be happy.