As is evident by my previous posts, I've all but decided that I don't want to go the academic route. The reasons for which are numerous so I won't bore you with that. Trying to decide what career path I would like to pursue outside academia, however, has been quite nerve racking. I really don't have anyone to turn to for advice who isn't an academic and most academics and even other grad students look at you like you've gone crazy when you mention that isn't the career path for you.
In a weird twist of fate, the other day while looking for some book or journal article for my thesis on the university's library website I came across a book called Alternative Careers in Science. I figured I may as well have a look at it since it seemed like the help I was looking for. It was actually already checked out so I had to request it and the other poor person looking for something other than academia had to return it. Funny thing was, when I went to pick up the book the librarian said that she is also trying to leave the ivory tower. That lead to a discussion of which would be better - joining Circ du Soleil or becoming a WestJet flight attendant. It was nice to hear I'm not alone in my quest.
Anyways, the reason I bring up this book is because I highly recommend it. I've only read a chapter and a half so far and skimmed through the rest of the book but so far this book is excellent. Each chapter is written by a different person who chose a different career path outside of academia. It goes into how they ended up there, why, and what their job is like, among other things. The little I've read so far has been very helpful. And it's nice to know that I'm not alone in all my confusion over what to do next and my guilt of not going the academic route. One of my favorite lines I came across when skimming the book was in the chapter written by Genevieve Haddad when she was talking about her decision to not go into academia and getting flack from everyone around her. She says, "[Everyone] thought I was crazy at best, a traitor at worst, for wanting something different... Why would I want to do anything else? It must be because I was a woman and not really serious about science". Yep, that about sums up my experience so far when telling people my choice of finding something outside academia.
So if you are confused like me and want something outside the Ivory Tower I highly recommend checking out this book. And good luck in your quest! I'm right there with you.