I’m doing a postdoc in a STEM field in central Europe. I’ve been employed for a year, with a bit over a year of funding left on the contract. Over time, I have become less and less interested in continuing in academia, and I have now started looking for industry jobs.
My dilemma is that I don’t know if I should tell my postdoc host about it. We have a rather good relationship I think, but don’t work closely together on a day-to-day basis, and we have not had any proper career-conversations, just me sometime saying I will probably want to continue in academia, which is not true anymore. Best case scenario, I tell them I want to leave academia, they are supportive, and agree to write letters of recommendation and act as a job reference (which would be the main reason to let them know). However, I’m not sure that would be the case, and I genuinely can’t predict how they would react. The main reason I’m unsure is that I have several ongoing research projects, which would likely never be finished if I found a new job and left. No one else in the group does the same type of highly specialized research as I do, so no one would be able to “adopt” the project. Worst case scenario, they would be very disappointed if I tell them I am looking for other jobs, our relationship would go south, and they would not be interested in helping me in my career.
If I left early for another postdoc or an assistant professor, which I think is completely normal during a postdoc, we would be able to continue to collaborate, and I wouldn’t be hesitant to tell them. Same thing if I was close to the end of my contract. But since I want to leave academia, and leave my position early, I don’t know what to do/what is normal in this case. So the question is: do I tell my postdoc host I’m looking for jobs outside academia?