Fleeting Thoughts

I regularly spot items which I think might make a good blog post, or read articles which are worth more than a tweet, or just have odd musings which, if I had the time (or inclination), would be great for an in-depth incisive post – but they flutter away on the winds of so-much-to-do-so-little-time.

So, instead of letting them wither and die in my “Draft Posts” file, I’m going to try and capture some of them in occasional posts of fleeting thoughts and recommendations.

Let me know if you like them (which you can now do by the Ratings buttons at the end of the post).

City Life
I’ve been reading “This Bleeding City” by Alex Preston which is the story of a middle-class student who gets caught up in the excitement of running with a crowd of much wealthier friends, and his eventual entry into the world of city finance via working for a hedge fund – just before the crash. As a careers adviser, I have to remain (publicly) neutral about the career choices people make so I can’t tell you whether I think it’s an over-wrought travesty of life in the world of investments, or a searing indictment of avaricious amoral financiers.

I can say, though, that it zips along, and highlights the difficulties of making life choices on graduation when (if you’re young – or maybe even if you’re older) you’re still trying to work out what you want your life to be all about.

Haven’t finished it yet though, so no spoilers please in the comments or if you see me this week!

Patent or publish?
I recently attended the BiotechYES kick-off session and was struck by a comment from one of the academics talking about his start-up company.

He acknowledged that many academics might prefer their work to be freely available for all to use, particularly if it had potential for improving people’s life or health. However, he pointed out that health-related discoveries were less likely to be translated into products which could be used to treat patients if they were published in journals.

Once the information was in the public domain and unprotected, there was little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in the slow and expensive process of clinical trials and product development. If the trials went well and a working product was developed, there would be nothing to stop other companies from capitalising on their work, as the product couldn’t be protected.

Therefore, to ensure the best chance for health-related discoveries to become available, academics should patent rather than publish.

I do like counter-intuitive thinking – but is there a flaw in this argument?

What’s that job really like?
I was asked this week how you could find out whether jobs were as glossy as graduate recruiters say they are. By chance, this week I also heard about “The Job Crowd” which was set up to do just that. It asks people to give details about their jobs, such as “what do you do day-to-day?”, salary range, real working hours and “how did the job differ from your prior expectations”.

There are some significant gaps – don’t expect to find much on science, engineering or social work jobs – and many of the profiles are rather brief, but it is pretty revealing about things like the hours people are working (9-7 seems pretty normal for many in the finance sector – those finance salaries come with their own price). Worth a browse.