I have been asked this question a few times so I decided to write a post about it:
“In the recent 5 years I see many students follow alternative career paths, since they don’t think they have achieved enough within a 3 year PhD studentship. What would be your tip on how to handle millennials?” (Lab Group Leader)
Here it goes what I think about this subject:
1) I believe there is a crisis in Academia regarding recognizing their Human Resources, PostDocs assignments are general low paid
2) In addition, funding is also a big problem and Universities are being influenced by big Pharma funding.
3) I believe science knowledge should be a goal by itself and I think this is a key message otherwise students only want to study something that will be applied soon after their PhD ( to secure a “job”) and this is very dangerous for fundamental research.
4) Millennials (and not only) want to have an impact very soon, want to find their true calling very soon, they are not aware these things take time; paciente and resilience – soft skills they lack:))
5) On the other side I believe academia needs a big reform (revolution) a) in the way it gets funding, b) in the way it deals with the students and postdoc fellowships/contracts, c) in the way it gives their researchers the support, mentoring, recognition and sense of belonging they need to pursue their work.
6) For me the big crisis in employment in Science Fields is related with the sense of purpose. Each research Institution should have at least 3-4 big offices: Funding/ Communication/ Advanced Training or Teaching center/Career office. These offices should support the Lab Group Leaders that already have a lot on their plate and sometimes need to be magicians to deal with many things they were not trained to do.
7) Below is a video about millennials and it deals with “the time you need to reach something that truly matters to you”.
8) Nevertheless if there are companies that give better job conditions to a doctorate than Academia, the argument that says that “doing science research is noble enough” is already outdated and we should all give Universities good tools to maintain their brains.
“Nowadays, everything you want you can have it instantaneously…. EXCEPT: a) JOB SATISFACTION b) STRENGTH OF RELATIONSHIPS, there is no app for that, they are slow, uncomfortable, messy processes. (…) What this generation needs to learn is patience… that things that really matter like love, job fulfilment, self confidence… all of these things TAKE TIME” (from: Simon Sinek)