Diary of a British Scientist, Part 6: Jemima Gets a Job!


Well I have survived my first few weeks of a new job. Yes I finally got one and no I haven't turned into a puff of smoke after departing the lab!

Over the last few months I managed to secure a position as managing editor on one of the journals representing my discipline. This is a golden opportunity to use the science and contacts I have built up over the last few years to move gradually into publishing. I am viewing the transition from the lab to this position as the "perfect sideways step." Although I must admit that I have often felt that there has been nothing gradual about this transition! Possibilities of a vague career structure fill me with optimism and for the first time in about a decade (!) I can see that there will be plenty more doors open to me in the future.

My main responsibility is to the journal. I can keep an eye on "what's hot" in my discipline, which makes me feel very privileged. Hopefully I will still be able to keep abreast of the literature in other publications, but at this stage I am still trying to keep my head above water and have put that on my "to do" list. I am also looking after a magazine, which satisfies some of my writing yearnings, and so, all in all, the new job gives me the opportunity for experience in editing, writing, and commissioning. All sounds perfect really.

I am quickly getting the hang of encouraging scientists to delve into publicizing their science. I have learned that many are extremely willing to contribute, which makes my life easier. Of course I have also come up against many brick walls--ALREADY! However, I hope that even in the short while I have been here my "people skills" have improved vastly, not to mention my computer skills (although the typing still needs a bit of work!!).

An added bonus is that I am working from an office that is heavily involved in public relations (PR) and public understanding of science issues in the biosciences. In fact I have already had to turn my hand to a few PR issues--having to deal with on-the-spot queries (about anything) over the telephone. I hope I will also get the chance to get out and about a bit, as I feel it is very important to maintain strong links with the scientific community and actually be able to put a face to a name.

Of course I miss the lab hugely. I never expected to, but I do. I have no cravings to set up any assays of ANY description but I really do miss the academic environment--lots of people from varied backgrounds dashing around. I now have to slot in to that world "virtually," and the many hours in front of a computer screen mean that, if I ever get any time, I will have to make an appointment to get my eyes tested! Also I can't deny that I miss "going to coffee" and having a good old gossip! This is not to say that I regret the move. Quite the contrary. Speaking with many others who have made similar transitions, I have yet to find anyone who is itching to get back to the bench--but I hope someone out there keeps the bench ticking over or else I'll be out of a job!

I have no doubt that in my new position many more exciting opportunities lie ahead of me this year. Now back to those manuscripts, letters, reminders, phone calls, deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. ...

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