Thursday, September 8, 2016

Career progress update

I talked a lot here about the various directions I've chosen to take in my career, and finally setting a year ago on a job that was so-so, in my general field but not directly, with low status, but at least I get to do basically what I do.

I figured it's time for the one-year update.

I've plugged along in the year doing a lot of administrative work that's pretty so-so and below what I can do, but at times along the way I've had the opportunity to do my thing. I've been able to work on some papers, and writing is what I love to do. I haven't had much opportunity to write, but the little bit I've done has wowed them. And apparently my administration has left them pretty happy too.

Now? They're talking promotion. It's a big institution so it'll take a while to come down the pipeline, but they've recognized that I really am an academic, I really am a scientist behind the administrator, and they can use me in a better way.

They're looking at a status professor appointment with no teaching responsibilities - great! They're looking at how to get me a scientist role of some sort - even better!

It's not exactly my field and a year later I'm still crippled by not knowing the literature, but now I need to take responsibility for that and find a way to get up on the literature, even if it's after hours. I'll monitor this closely and make sure I'm not working myself into burnout, but I do want to put a little effort into the lit so that I can eventually call this area of work mine. Somehow it doesn't fire me up as much as my original area, but I can find nuggets of coolness in it that can spur me on.

So, patience is the lesson. Take an opportunity that's almost good enough, do my thing, show them what I can do, and more opportunities will grow. At least, so they claim. I am hopeful that it will actually happen.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Relationship blues & alcoholism

This blog has been all about job talk, so I feel odd changing the channel. But here it is.

I've been in a relationship for over a year now. It's a good one. It helps confirm that leaving two-bit-town academia was the right thing to do. I'm better with him than I am without him.


Why is there always a but?

He's an alcoholic.

I've googled this to death and I can see no good resolution. I want to find some iota of advice online that tells me how to stick with it, how to keep the good without drowning in the bad. I can't find any. Everything I read tells me to run for the hills.

Alcoholism is only one thing about him. There are so many more things. He's sweet, he's kind, he's loving, he's smart. He's a great companion. He makes me happy.

Except when I wake up in the morning to find him drinking and drunk. That's not okay. I can't handle that.

Is it a deal breaker?  Part of me says yes. Part of me says no -- or wants to say no. A big part of me wants to figure out how I can learn to roll with it so it doesn't kill us. That part is putting the guilt on me for not dealing with it well -- and I know that guilt is classic in alcoholic relationships. I don't deserve that guilt.

But if it's what I have to live with to be with him?

I'm not a teatotaler. I drink. I drink more than I should. I drink WAY less than him. Guilt also comes in there though. I drink, so who am I to say he shouldn't. I drink with him. I drink more than I should. I sometimes get tipsy. I have fun with him when we're both drinking. But then I stop drinking. He keeps going (and going, and going). I feel guilty for drinking with him. I feel guilty for not being understanding enough. I feel guilty for not being good enough. I feel sad that I'm not more important to him than the booze. I feel angry that he won't do anything about it.

I want this to work out. We've got such a good thing going. Alcohol is the ONLY thing coming between us. Other than that, we're great together. We get each other. We belong together.

...but I CAN'T deal with him drunk in the morning.

What do I do, dear internet?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Settling into another new job

So, I took the second-best job that was offered, relinquishing my interview for the full scientist job. It was tough, but I had to take what was offered rather than take my chances and end up unemployed even longer.

How's it going? Okay.

It's more administrative than I would have wished. I don't get any Ph.D. cred. I feel like a bit of a secretary. But the team is going to learn that I actually am a researcher, as I continue to contribute all that I can.

I've been watching the PIs on the project. At times I'm annoyed to be working with them in a lowly Coordinator position, without the cred, when I could do the work they're doing. But then I see how stressed they are. They're overbooked, overworked, overstressed, with so many competing priorities that they can't do what they're doing the way they should.

Part of me wants to keep looking for the full-fledged researcher position. They are very few and far between, but there could be one posted eventually. It's what I should be doing, right? And I would get more respect, right?

I'm just not that much of an A-type personality though. Maybe I'm okay in this lowly position. I get to work from 9 to 5 and leave at the end of the day. I get to work on a project that is good work, if not my "baby." I get to contribute researchy stuff when I can, but there's not really all that much pressure to be smart. I get a reasonable salary with reasonable work conditions and not very much responsibility.

Opting out? Definitely. Right for me? Maybe. Just maybe. If only I can get over feeling like I'm not respected for the researcher that I am.... that I'm maybe choosing not to be.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A job offer!

I just got a tentative offer (awaiting references) for a research coordinator position at a hospital I really want to work at. It's probably more administrative than what I want, but it's something, and it's in the right field. Very exciting!

But there's a catch. I also have an interview a week and a half away for a more senior Project Scientist position at the same institution. This second job would be far better for my c.v., for sure, and probably more stimulating as it's more senior. The problem is the interview is a week and a half away and I'm sitting on the first offer now. Plus, according to this hospital's policy, if you're in a contract at the organization, you're not eligible to apply for other positions at the same organization unless you're at the end of your contract. So, if I accept job #1, I'm out of the running for job #2. Dammit. 

I know a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. It's so hard to take my name out of the running for the Project Scientist position though!! Bad timing, very bad timing indeed.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Job search: The continuing saga

So, I was offered a single course to teach locally. These things are pretty hard to get, but I turned it down. I don't know if this was the right decision, but a one-day commitment could prevent me from getting a full time job.

I've interviewed for a job I don't want. I think my odds of getting an offer are good, but I'd rather not get this offer. If I get it, I'll probably take it, as it'll pay the rent. Maybe, though, I should be holding off and waiting for something to come up in my area? Eventually it'll happen. How long can I handle unemployment?

Unemployment is going much better this time around than it did last time. I'm actually enjoying my time off, even if my bank account is not. So, maybe I should just go with that and hold out for a job in my field. I don't know.

I'm doing a very small amount of consulting work. I nearly turned that down too, but decided to do it to keep busy. It's far from ideal, but I guess it's something for my c.v.

I've been blogging about the job search for such a terribly long time now. I feel like I know what I want, but it just doesn't seem to exist. I'm getting bored of reading my own rambles about it. I have nothing else to say..........

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Perplexed in the Job Search

This job search has got me confused.

I'm looking for a full-time job in a subject matter reasonably associated with my background, with reasonable work conditions, and with a reasonable salary. Seems, well, reasonable, no?

I am *this* close to a formal offer of a single course instruction at a local academic institution. This would be back in academia. I have no problem with being back in academia, but the prospects of a full-time job in this city are negligible. This course, well, it would be good for my ongoing cv development if academia is the way I want to go.

As a single course, though, it's not enough to pay the rent, and the one-day obligation could prevent me from getting a full-time job. And, would it really help me break into the academic jobs in this city? One course? I don't know. Am I willing to work in academia for basically minimum wage (considering the part-time status) for the years it would take to maybe get a full-time gig? No.

So what do I do? Do I take this course, since it's better than nothing? Is it really better than nothing if it prevents me from getting a full-time job? Do I piss off the institution by pulling out after getting the offer? Is this course even what I really want?

Why is it so hard to find a reasonable job with a Ph.D.?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Scientific integrity

Throughout our time in academia, isn't scientific integrity one of the key things we learn? Behind the facts and the theories and the procedures, isn't scientific integrity one of the major underlying lessons?

I just lost a job as a researcher in industry because I wouldn't compromise my scientific integrity. That last job of the many jobs I've posted about. The one where they poached me from an okay-but-imperfect job, because they were so impressed by my statistical analysis skills.

I walked in there and did my nerdy little thing, analyzing data the only way I know how, with statistical methods. The results were really, really bad -- bad enough to crush the company. I presented my findings scientifically and objectively, but apparently I scared them and they didn't want to let me get my hands on one more dataset. So, they let me go.

Here I am, a full year after leaving academia, and unemployed again. Making a go of it outside of academia has proven to be really, really hard.

I don't regret analyzing the data the only way I know how. To produce results that would support that company would require turning my back on science and quite literally fudging the results. It would mean screwing the companies that come to this firm for help. The firm has other Ph.D.s who are either lacking the skills to find what I easily did, or lacking the scientific integrity to say it like it is.

I don't regret presenting the numbers as they are, but what's next for me now?

Academic positions are near impossible to get if you want to be in the city you're in, and I do want to be in this city. Industry jobs -- do they all require sacrificing your integrity? It has been suggested to me that this is par for the course. So, maybe industry is out.

So where does that leave me? I could scrub my resume clean of the last decade of my life and pretend I was off work raising my children (I don't have any), and maybe get a job making coffees. Okay, so maybe I'm catastrophizing a bit, but just a bit. After the rollercoaster of a year, I truly don't know what's next for me. Is there no way to maintain my integrity, use my skills, and be gainfully employed?