To give you some background: I spent 4 years getting a PhD in a second-tier university in Europe, struggling heavily with no input, mentorship or encouragement from the PI. Then I did 3 year of postdoc-ing in even lover-tier university in Canada, which I had to quit, because I wasn't able to sustain myself any longer on poverty-level wage. It is over 7 years, plus undergrad and M.Sc. before that.

Today I browsed through job ads for programmers on StackExchange. Wow! Just wow! I wasn't able to handle it. I was really ashamed of myself. There are jobs with 6-figure compensations, there are companies that pay your relocation and sponsor your visa!!! There opportunities to work remotely, there opportunities in interesting places like Tokyo! I am thinking that even if I didn't have brains to become a Senior Dev with decent salary (not everyone has the talent!), but at least I would have FREEDOM -- I could change my job, if I didn't like it (like most of normal people). Only if I had chosen the right path years ago. For someone with a "life science" PhD there only "cookie-cutter" postdoc openings from NatureJobs with crappy salary and guaranteed 60 to 80 hr workweeks with no raises and overtime. On top of that, I am often advised to scrap that PhD off my resume altogether, to increase my "employability". It is really tough on days like this! I keep asking myself "Why? Why did I do this myself?" Am I really such an idiot? Have I been lied to? Have I been blind? Why in the world did I spend 7 years of my life on useless crap that drags me down? Am I the worst person in the world? I cannot imagine what I could have achieved if I spent as much effort while learning to code, as I spent doing all those useless experiments? I really cannot stop blaming and hating myself! I have botched my life by trying the academic route. Sometimes I do not know whether it is even worth living further as this life science PhD will keep destroying me till the end of my days.

  • Voting to close because this is not a question. But changing from a scientific discipline to IT is totally possible.
    – Louic
    Dec 17, 2020 at 8:18
  • What's the problem? You just said yourself there are many great opportunities just in front of you! Way to get out of a career dead-end!
    – henning
    Dec 17, 2020 at 9:10
  • "I really cannot stop blaming and hating myself" I recommend that you work on this mindset, which is not conducive to health or happiness in the long run. Please speak to a mental health professional, or even a friend or family member as soon as possible if you are seriously questioning whether it's worth continuing to live. Dec 17, 2020 at 9:18
  • 'I am often advised to scrap that PhD off my resume altogether, to increase my "employability"'. I'm guessing the person who told you this was from an employment agency. The main job of an employment agent is to talk up the value of your qualifications and experience. If you've got an agent who instead talks down the value of your qualifications and experience, then move on and find another agent. It's not as if they'e in short supply. Dec 17, 2020 at 11:05

1 Answer 1


"Good" fields come and go. It is not that long ago that the dotcom bubble burst, and being a programmer was the worst choice you could ever have made... Similarly, the COVID crisis may lead to a "golden age of life sciences". Who knows?

Trying to find the field that will be "the future" when you are done is extremely hard because of just the impossibility of predicting future technological development and because of the pork cycle (Very briefly: you can choose a field for which there is a high demand now, but your fellow students know that to and will also choose that field, so by the time you are done there is an oversupply of candidates...) So don't be too hard on yourself.

If you really want to retrain, then that is certainly possible. People I know who work in tech companies tell me that most of their programmers are not originally trained as programmers or computer scientists.

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