Sep 202016
Red Dice being thrown

More and more scientists are becoming disenfranchised about the prospect of a long and rewarding academic career. It’s harder than ever to secure an academic position. Even academics are becoming annoyed with the prospect of staying in an academic career –  presumably because they looked in the mirror and saw what the physical effects of “success” looked like. I’ve always thought that at the beginning of a science degree academics should line up at the front of the lecture theater so the graduates can see what success really looks like. To me, it kind of looks like heart attack drizzled in sadness with a side of future knee problems.

A 2010 study from the tea sipping, pomp-loving Royal Society in the UK investigated the career prospects for PhD’s. After finishing scones with The Queen and listening to Prince Phillip’s racist jokes, they found that only 0.45 % of PhD graduates ended up with a permanent academic position.

percentage breakdown of career pathways from PhD

The most “why the fuck did I do this” moment for me came when I found out that 53% of the graduates found a career outside of science. “Fuck me” because science is hard, and even though there’s a bunch of transferable skills that get picked up along the way, lot’s of people (who probably like doing science, because that’s why they did it) end up sat in little grey cubical’s pretending they enjoy instant coffee.

Don’t be sad, just because you are very, very unlikely to find an academic position it doesn’t mean that life hasn’t got more probable surprises in store for you. Here are some fun things are are more likely to happen to you:

Getting cancer

There is a 1 in 2 (50 %) chance for men and about a 1 in 3 (33 %) chance for women

You may find out you’re a descendant of someone more interesting than you


About 75 % of people are likely to have hemorrhoids at some point in their life.

Being underweight

In Australia between 2010 – 2012,  1.7% of people were considered underweight and, based on the number of chins per capita being greater than 1, this value is likely to only be getting smaller.

Becoming a millionaire with your own business.

Our fat cat mates over at Barclays recon that 1 in 200 (0.5%) of businesses end up making 1 million in their first year.

So, there you have it: start a business and remember to eat lots of fibre. No-one will want to do business with someone who scratches their arse and shuffles in their chair too much. Also, a moment of reflection for hungry, permanent academics with spin-off companies and cancerous hemorrhoids who are related to Genghis Khan – they’re the ones that have been truly blessed!

Support Andy Matter and feel good without having to clean yourself up.

It’ll help with running costs and combating sobriety.

$1 $5 $10 $??

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