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I'm a recent PhD student who specialized in field X and have a couple options open in this field for my work. I like the field and it is field with opportunities in academia and industry.

That said, field Y is a passion of mine, it's very different and wouldn't have many skill crossovers. There is a job that has opened up for it that seems perfect for me. I'd love to contribute in the field and I could live off of it, but it wouldn't fit my field. I don't think I could easily find a another job in that field or move up really down the line.

My question is, can I have my cake and eat it too? Is it reasonable to take a job in new field Y and ask the employer if I can collaborate and contribute to field X still? If I have a break in my history of working at it can I get back into it without many (any?) publications?

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    Are you looking to work for a regular company, a research lab, or in academia? The answer is different for each of these. – Nathan S. Feb 3 '18 at 5:03
  • Would be working at a regular compay's research lab that wouldn't be published in journals. – anon-2041 Feb 3 '18 at 6:38
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First, I'm assuming that field X and Y are not totally unrelated. (e.g. Greek literature and high energy physics.)

If you are working in academia this isn't usually a problem. In fact, it's great to have two areas where you can contribute, so that you continue to publish, etc, in area X while starting to do work in area Y. This keeps your productivity up while you get up to speed in area Y.

If you are working for a research lab this can also work, but may be a bit tougher. It depends on how strongly the lab wants you to contribute to the core work of the company. If there is a research lab that is doing work in both X and Y then you can probably find opportunities to collaborate in both areas. If they have no interest in X you need to see if they have flex time or if you can find some connection that would interest them.

But, in the end, the best option is to ask them. You never know what other areas they want to expand into, or what connections they may be aware of that you aren't.

  • The fields are very different, consider the change from a hard science in academia to soft science for an industry. Does that change your answer? – anon-2041 Feb 4 '18 at 18:34

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