Category Archives: job search

a tempting opportunity

A colleague recently alerted me to a job posting in my field at Ideal Home State University.  I can’t decide if I should apply or not.

On one hand, I should apply because:

  1. I’d like to be housed in a department of my actual academic discipline (instead of a sub-area, as I am now, meaning that I’d have colleagues who understand and appreciate my research).
  2. I’d be housed in an academic unit that has support for the type of grantwriting I do. I would most likely have greater support for grantwriting endeavors, and wouldn’t have to answer truly dumb questions about the NIH grant application process.
  3. It would be a step up in the academic hierarchy, but a reasonable step up for someone with my academic pedigree. This is a place where I’d want to get tenure, but gaining tenure should also be attainable.
  4. I’d be in my home state and would be surrounded by people who understand my regional accent and idioms.
  5. After a long period during which nearly all of my friends moved out of state, a few of them are starting to trickle back. We’d have friends again, and we’d get to see them more than once a year!
  6. My family would be about an hour’s drive away instead of a day’s drive away, making holidays and family emergencies a bit easier on the stress level. We’d also save megabucks on travel.
  7. We’d be within 1.5 hours of a major international airport.

On the other hand, I shouldn’t apply because:

  1. Having just one more task on my plate right now might seriously put me over the edge…
  2. If I was invited to interview for the position, I’d have to do so while 6+ months pregnant.
  3. If I was successful, I’d be ditching my current department after being here for less than two years, and this makes me look like a skipper.
  4. If I was successful, we’d have to move with a small infant in tow, and would have to deal with the current local housing market.
  5. The job market in Home State is really, really bad, so it might be hard for Hubby to find a job there (that being said, it might actually end up being easier because it’s a more metropolitan area than our current location).

I think I’ll go ahead and apply regardless, because opportunities like this don’t come along very often, and the potential benefits definitely outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Academic readers, what else do I need to consider at this point?


job hunt is finally completely finished

I have a contract on my desk, and I’m ready to sign it. My postdoctoral supervisor has advertised my position, and hopes to bring on somebody new a few weeks’ before I depart this summer. These are good things, to paraphrase Martha Stewart.

But, now that my job hunt is officially complete, I just don’t know what to do with myself. I’m still used to having to search for new openings, and having to repeatedly check the academic jobs wiki for updates on interesting positions. Don’t have to do either of those any longer, so now what do I do with my time?

Try to get as many papers out as possible in the next few months? (Probably, although slowing down a bit would feel great!)

Leave my “postdoctoral campsite” cleaner than I found it? (Definitely!)

Start preparing next fall’s classes? (Hopefully…)

Start packing and planning to buy a house?

Now what?!? I have thought about little else but the job market for 8 months and can’t remember what it’s like on the “other side”…

making lemonade out of lemons

I am not a spoiled baby. Now that I’ve had a decent night’s sleep, I am better able reframe this as an opportunity for growth versus a glaring sign that I suck.

Instead of thinking about how underimpressed I was by the grad students, I’m trying to think about how I’ve never taught a graduate level course. “Weaker” grad students might be a better introduction to graduate-level teaching & mentoring than “strong” graduate students, who are likely to be more demanding and have higher expectations.

If nothing else, I’m done with this whole process for at least 2 more years, and I’ll be free from my lab. Hubby and I can move on with our lives, even if it’s not in the location we really wanted.

I’ll have a good excuse to check out the publishers’ booths when I’m at my national conference next week (i.e., saving time in the long run, while productively using unscheduled free moments during the day).

I’m still going to buy champagne for my grad department’s annual conference party, and attempt to celebrate the positive outcome of my search.

clearly I just suck

I just received a rejection letter from the small liberal arts college I’d visited last week.

  • 35 applications
  • 12? phone/initial interviews
  • 8 campus visit invitations (6 completed visits)
  • just 1 offer

Clearly I just suck, given the measly rate of return on all my effort.

whirlwind week

A lot has happened this week, both good and bad.

I went for my last interview a few days ago. This was at a small, liberal arts college in the northern midwest. It was a great interview, and I was very pleased by what I saw during my campus visit. The students were great, and the faculty were friendly. Start-up resources would be abundant. The department will get a new home in a new building within the next few years, so nice facilities are also on the horizon. The only drawback is that it’s at a liberal arts college, so I’d have relatively substantial teaching responsibilities and reduced research responsibilities. This also means that I’d have “less status” in the field as a researcher. I’m still conflicted about how I feel about this.

I heard from my top choice school the day I returned home, and they’ve offered the position to somebody else. This first-choice candidate accepted their offer, so I’m out of luck with my first choice department. They expressed a reason why their first-choice candidate was their first choice, and from my perspective, it’s a total cop-out. But, it really doesn’t matter since there’s nothing I can do anyway.

I received an offer I don’t really want the day I returned to work following the liberal arts interview trip. I interviewed for this position a couple of weeks ago, and observed some major red flags during my campus visit. I have very mixed feelings about the offer. Some points of it were better than I’d expected (i.e., salary), but it’s not enough to eliminate those red flags. The biggie is the quality of the grad students. I’m concerned about how productive I could be in this position with what would likely be grossly inadequate student support. The teaching responsibilities would be less, but the research expectations would be higher. This is worrisome, because from my perspective, weak graduate students are dead weight, and are not “better than nothing.” It doesn’t help that this university is situated in a town that’s not particularly nice. An offer is better than nothing, but I’m not sure how much better than nothing this offer truly is.

If nothing else, taking this offer would get Hubby and I out of our current house, which seems more and more vulnerable every day we live there. I had the mail held while I was at the small liberal arts college, and the bundle of accumulated mail was stolen from our mailbox on Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning, somebody checked out all the windows at the basement level of our house and left footprints in the snow as proof. Just this morning, we found proof that somebody had been messing with our front door while we slept. Needless to say, we’re deeply unhappy about this situation, and want to move as soon as possible.

I’m also spurred to move on by the situation in my lab, which has never been great but has recently become a bit worse. Recently a grad student has asked me to join hu on a paper as 3rd author. Grad student had added a model to the paper without a priori hypotheses for certain effects. Hu wanted to include the model, but also wanted its addition to make sense with the rest of the paper. My reading of the manuscript revealed that it wasn’t foreshadowed adequately, and I spent quite a bit of time adding statements, etc., in support of the model and to make the hypotheses stand out more clearly. I also made major revisions to the methods & results section of this scientific paper. A week later hu poked his head in my colleague’s office while I was meeting with colleague, and told me that the lab’s big boss instructed hu to ignore my comments on the introduction. Grad student was quite embarassed when hu told me this, and tried to downplay it as big boss’s desire to submit the paper with minimal revisions at this point.

I can appreciate wanting to take the path of least resistance in terms of submitting papers for review, but the way this was done was pretty disrespectful. Clearly I’m not good for much around here other than doing other people’s analyses and checking papers’ formatting.

I am so out of here ASAP.

still nothing

I wish I could give a more exciting update, but I still don’t have any job offers. I did, however, receive a rejection letter on Friday morning (the “cooking” job). Not a big shocker, nor a huge disappointment. I’m starting to freak out because my options are becoming more and more limited. I leave for a final interview tomorrow at a small, midwestern liberal arts college similiar to my alma mater (Keep your fingers crossed for me, please!. I also just submitted an application for a position overseas, in Hubby’s dad’s current country of residence.

At this point, I’m just feeling resigned and flat. It doesn’t help that I’m in the thick of the PMDD blues (started taking medication again on Thursday, but it’s not working very well yet), and just feel like a distracted piece of crap while trying to prepare for this interview and cope with my phone’s silence.  It also doesn’t help that Hubby’s going through a crisis at work (i.e., is so frustrated that he’s getting closer and closer to walking away and finding something else), and would love for me to get the job in his dad’s current home country. The fact that neither of us really speak the language spoken in this area is not even on his radar, while I start to panic at the thought of having to lecture in a language I haven’t studied in years.

One thing at a time… one thing at a time…. one thing at a time….

no offers

No news following any of my interviews yet.  I’d hoped to have heard something from either of my two top choices by now, but my phone’s been silent. It should go without saying that this is disappointing. It’s also embarrassing; the individual who had my position before me required 2-3 tries on the market before hu secured an acceptable position, and it looks like history is repeating itself. Plus, the other 2 postdocs affiliated with my lab have already accepted or will soon accept good offers.

Regardless, in the context of my everyday interactions in this lab, I can handle the embarrassment of a failed attempt on the job market. I think I may die of shame if I have to hold my head high while at my national conference in a few weeks (i.e., during interactions with my mentors and colleagues from graduate school, all of whom have secured tenure-track jobs in a timely fashion). Thinking about this is enough to bring me to tears, so I’d better stop thinking about it and just get back to work.