31 years old, with a PhD in mechanical engineering. Graduated last December, I did not get any decent postdoc position due to my poor publication record during my 5.5 years duration PhD (1 first author and two co-author papers).

Early this year I published 2 more papers from my PhD thesis and was working on the third when covid struck. In March, I was waiting for my work permit to join my PhD supervisor as a postdoc. I was supposed to get a contract of 1 year and planned to publish multiple papers during the period.

My work permit got delayed, I am still waiting for it, though under implied status, I was able to officially start working from June. However the uncertainty and wait severely affected my productivity and mental peace.

I have till now worked on three different topics, but they are at least two months away from being written into a journal paper.

Also, I am still working on the last paper from my PhD thesis, which should have been submitted till now.

Due to covid, I am restricted to job search in my current country of residence. I don't have a valid work permit, so I am hesitating in applying for other positions and I am also aware that my profile has not improved in any significant way from the last year. So, even if I do apply, I won't get anything.

With my age and the time spent in unproductivity, I don't know if I have any prospective academic career left. I have a prior Master's degree and 5.5 years long PhD degree.

Do I have any propects of a academic career left? I wanted give it a shot before going for industry. However, at the moment, industry seems unattainable too considering my lack of internship and professional experience.

Any advice or suggestions?

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    You should not trust anyone's job market predictions during an economic crisis. – Anonymous Physicist Sep 14 '20 at 5:39
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    Why do you want to be in academia? Do you have a career advisor? Are you sure industry is impossible or is this just a conjecture? – user111388 Sep 14 '20 at 9:40

Ask yourself why you feel that you need an academic career. I have met too many researchers who are wedded to the idea despite the reality that the years are passing and their pace of progression is slow, their security of tenure uncertain. Do you just like the intellectual atmosphere? Do you feel it is prestigious? Do you think jobs elsewhere lack intellectual satisfaction? If you answer yes to any of these, it is important to realise that atmosphere, prestige and satisfaction may also be found in industry, in civil service, in places other than academia. And often they will be better paid ...


Advice or suggestions? Don't put yourself down. AIUI, you already have five peer-reviewed publications accepted. That is not a poor publication record by any relevant standard. I successfully landed my first two postdoc jobs, with contracts totalling five years, with fewer publications than that under my belt. Admittedly, I was fortunate enough that both of those occasions were during a period when university research activity in my country was expanding rapidly; but you appear to be internationally mobile, so perhaps you'll be able to choose a country where that is the case (or where it becomes the case soon after the present pandemic is put into retreat). On the second of those two occasions, I applied for a lot of positions, and was prepared to be flexible about the academic discipline in which I worked; that seemed to help.

If you want to go into industry instead, Mechanical Engineering graduates are very highly sought after by employers, even without internships, professional experience, or master's and doctoral degrees.

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