Sunday, January 15, 2006

Alternatives? What alternatives?

On January 13th, Bright Star
posted some links to a series of articles on what they don't teach you in graduate school.

The first one, in part 12, mentions the strategy of seeking a job in administration, but negotiating in teaching a class and some time for research. Hmmm.

A few months ago, I applied for a post as an advisor for graduate students at my university. I thought I was a shoe-in. I had been active with the graduate student's association for a couple years, and knew many of the staff pretty well. It seemed like a good place to plant myself while I applied for jobs.

The problem is, I guess my motives were transparent. My thought was I knew I could do a good job, and it was something I would enjoy and feel useful doing. But the feedback I got (roundabout by someone I knew on the inside) was that it was obvious to everyone that I really wanted a faculty position, and I'd be gone in a year or two. That seemed not to be what they wanted.

Would I even have a chance parking myself in administration for a couple years? Who knows, assuming I could even negotiate some teaching and research time. I guess it doesn't hurt me to apply for some jobs, and see what takes. At the moment nothing is doing in my search for a faculty post. Every day that goes by, my chances grow slimmer for the coming Fall.

Do I give up if nothing comes of this season? I guess it's crossed my mind. But I can't really commit to anything besides a faculty job search at the moment. I know that's what I want. I'm just not sure how to get there. My advisor says "patience." But what do I do in the meantime?

I guess I'm lucky. My wife can support the family for now, and we're not going hungry. It's not that I worry about the money, or really that I have any wounded pride that my wife is supporting us. We're a team; we've always been. It just happens that her career is more available and more lucrative than mine. We both recognize that.

It's mostly that I feel lost, without purpose. The PhD is in many respects a self-indulgent exercise. It's all about me, and my research, and my drive, and my perseverance. It's done. It's behind me. Now what? Where can I head from here that will allow me to keep my head up, knowing I'm doing good in the world, and making the best use of the talents I've been given? That's the question that remains.

Unlike Ms. PhD (aka "Young Female Scientist") I don't have the option of working as a researcher for a pharmaceutical company, even if I wanted to. That just not my area of research. There must be ways my work is relevant to real-world applications. I'm just not even sure there are any companies working on them. Let's hope for the moment that I don't have to seek them out.

1 comment:

Lilian said...

all right, I promise I'm going to bed right now... of course after I couldn't answer some of the questions in that quiz I had to come check all the archives.

This post was interesting because the post by Ms. PhD that you link to has a lot to do with the things that have been going on in my husband's mind and life. Funny coincidence with you saying there that you couldn't work for a pharma. industry. And then... your hope that you wouldn't have to seek work in the industry.

I'm glad you're at peace with having to take that path that one year ago you hoped you wouldn't have to.

Ok. off to bed.