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Brain Drain: Should I go back to my home country?
Posted On : Aug 16, 2016

debería retornar a mi país?

This is a taboo subject: After finishing my postgraduate degree, should I go back to my home country?

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No, the best thing for you and your home country is that you stay abroad for a few years, working on a post doctorate and later working in your field.`

Remember this definition of insanity: doing the same thing while expecting a different result. Not a good idea.


The reality in the developed world is that the highest-ranking institutions on the world scale of academic performance, even when hiring professors with stellar resumes, offer them world-class incentive packages and orientation to maximize the possibility of success for both.

You know that in your country, not even the most important university, government institutions, or large company will be able to give you the support you need to be productive. Furthermore, the authorities of such organizations will have absurd expectations regarding your productivity, although in some cases the situation could be worse; that is, that they would have no expectation at all.

Let’s look at an example to clarify this point. Dr. Giselle Sandi is the Director of Mentor Programs for young researchers at Rush University in Chicago. Her experience as mentor to new PhDs began at Argonne National Laboratory, when she codirected 11 doctoral and 4 master’s in chemistry students from the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she was also adjunct professor in the school of chemical engineering. Later, she was in charge of the post doctorate program at Argonne for several years. Dr. Sandi was a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory for 20 years, during which time she obtained numerous awards, made more than one hundred publications in refereed journals, and obtained multiple grants, mainly from government agencies.

Because of this, she already had ample experience in the process of proposing research projects, obtaining funds, directing students, publishing, and leading. People of this caliber are the ones who mentor new PhDs at schools such as Rush University; even though these PhDs are graduates of the best universities, such as Harvard, MIT, Caltech, etc.

So, ask yourself:

Who will support you so that you can develop a successful career, according to international standards, when you return to your country?

The reality is that upon returning to their home university the graduates do not find a program with mentors who are trained to polish the skills of those who acquired a doctorate and to continue refining their abilities, especially emotional abilities; and, most of all, to assist in the search for financing from outside their institution. This should be no surprise considering the custom of recycling the same graduates. And to top it off, since there are few professors with doctorates who do research, there is not a stimulating environment.

The PhD comes to teach us, not to learn, right? Wrong! This new PhD, fresh from the oven, still needs training, because the world of PhDs is very sophisticated and competitive. IQ is just one of the variables which affect success, and may not be the most important, especially in a world with many intelligent people.

Under any circumstance, it is essential that recent graduates with advanced degrees do a post doctorate or an internship, or work for a private company in the host country or another developed country for a few years. It’s not until then that these professionals will truly be prepared to face the challenges that await them upon returning to their home countries and to make a significant contribution to their country’s progress.

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