What I've learnt from MARS42 as a Post Doc


I remember one of my Biology course profs would say: “ science is built of many devoted tireless ordinary persons with a fair dose of intelligence and a sprinkle of geniuses here and there”.

I later learnt one of the implications of this phrase: unless you are a genius, building a career in science is not immediate and it requires many extra skills to succeed. Academic system absorbs a very small percentage of PhDs as permanent scientists, which means that if you decide to go for it, your bet is very high and risky. It will require logistical ability, resilience, firm ambition, and big sacrifices on aspects of “adulthood” life that have popped up by the time you are a postdoc. So, you might find yourself leaving a city or country by the time you were feeling home and setting good relationships, selling your house belongings in one day to have just two baggage of 23 kgs each, or delaying a family project, or living away from your partner and kids and flying every weekend to see them, just to mention some.

But... what happens if, at some point, all these efforts do not bring a successful outcome? What if the sacrifice becomes not worth anymore? To be honest I was afraid of ending up as many friends and colleagues: breaking into pieces after realizing that the scientific career was over, with no clue of what to do after.

I was facing this dilemma when I learnt about MARS42 summer school. And just like a train that passes by I decided to get on board. All I wanted by that time was to confute one  rooted idea I had: that  “no job”  would be worth doing apart from science. If I could succeed in doing so,  then any future would be easier to face. 

I found a very stimulating environment in MARS42; organizers, as well as faculties brought hot topics into discussion and translated them into interesting entrepreneurship realities. This helped me to think of myself into different professional roles, something I had never done before.  I also found very encouraging to see that one of the focus of the school was to put at the centre our scientific skills to use them as strategic values for any future job.

After attending the course the job was done: I found myself delineating a concrete plan B to academic system. 

For sure MARS42 is a good start if you are willing to find new challenges and a professional grow beyond academia.  Specially if you- like me- do not want to give up your scientific spirit and believe that critical thinking has to go beyond basic research; that they can live outside  “in other forms of jobs”  and have an impact  in society.


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