I just made a list of non-school related things I have to do in the next two months. At the top of the list is “find a glide year job.” It’s one line on my to-do list but it should probably be given a whole paragraph. Finding a glide year job feels a bit like being asked to recite the alphabet backwards while standing on one foot on the roof of a moving train.

Jobs are already hard to come by. We’re in a recession, in case you missed the memo, and even people who have steady employment have to be on the ball. For the recent postbac graduate things get even more complicated. We don’t have actual science degrees, most of us don’t even have any research experience. We don’t have any type of licenses or accreditation; just a slew of basic science courses and a can-do attitude. Meanwhile, those of us staying in the area are amid actual medical students, nursing students, EMTs, and various graduate students who all have more skills and experience working in the medical fields.

Even if I can find a position I’m qualified for, there are a few caveats to my availability. I’m going to be spending the next year applying to medical school, which involves (hopefully) a lot of flying around the country for interviews. That means taking time off of work. It also means that (again, hopefully) I will only be working at whatever job I find for a year at the most. And to top it all off, I’m going to be taking an organic lab for about four weeks in June and July so a 9-5 schedule will probably be a challenge for at least that period of time.

All is not lost, though. The good news is that even as our cohort is spilling out into the world looking for jobs, the last round of postbacs are quitting their positions and headed off to medical school. There is a limited market for the eclectic collection of skills we postbacs possess. The trick is finding not only the opportunity, but the time and energy to apply. Who wants to write a cover letter after three hours at the library working through physics problems?

It all comes down to the same problem I faced when I graduated from college; with all of the skilled, educated people graduating from college this spring, why would you hire the one whose time is limited and whose attention is focused on a future far away?

I’ll try to keep that question out of my cover letters.

 

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