Five years after my postdoc started has come to an anticlimactic end. It could have ended a lot of different ways. I don't have any wise words about why I am staying in academia or how I managed to do it. I got a job. Eventually. During the last few years especially I planned for the very likely possibility that I wouldn't get an academic job. This involved some thought about what exactly it was I liked about my current job. What I wanted to try to keep.
Coding & Math
My research topic
A common misunderstanding among early-career scientists is the thought that their passion is their research focus. A more careful examination reveals that their passion is not so much the subject but rather, the promise of the life that academia might offer.
Would it be best to look for jobs related in my topic? Jobs in the field my research is applied to? Jobs that are somehow more science-y(e.g. science writer)?
It took me a while to realize I don't actually like science. No that came out wrong, I do like science, but what I enjoy about it is not present in every single "science job" and not absent in every "non-science job". The default "what am I going to go with my life if I can't be a science professor" seemed to be to try to hold on to either the Science part or Professor part. Science writer. High School teacher. These are fine occupations if that's what your interests are. That's not necessarily the case for every postdoc considering leaving academia when the job market isn't enuff.
I am a bit unimaginative and have been ensconced in academia as much as the next postdoc. My best idea of a non-science job was based on what my college classmates were doing 10 years ago. Work for Google/Microsoft/etc. I've been saying meh to that since college, so I needed a fresh look.
Long story short, I settled on "data science". I like 1) math, 2) sports 3) complaining about code. That made it seem like a good fit. I have no idea if that was the right call. At the very least it seemed like something interesting to do. At the very least I'd figured out that this myth you occasionally see floating around the university halls, that nothing else in the world besides science/academia could ever be as intellectually fulfilling, was as mentioned, a myth.