27 and a PhD

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Oh rats .. no fellowship for me

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.

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So, yesterday, while reading my boss’s new draft of a (hopefully) soon to be submitted paper, I was struck by some pain deep in my heart and a huge bitch-slap to my ego. A few weeks ago, I had submitted a fellowship application to my (hopefully, because I’m still writing my thesis, after 5 or 6 months, I’ve lost count at this point) soon to be new university/job/lab.

I was very excited and I thought I had good chances to get it since my soon-to-be new boss mentioned that he had worked on the selection committee for that fellowship and not that many people apparently apply for it and supposedly most of the ones that apply do not qualify for one reason or the other. I was confident my chances were good. But I did not count on the fact that we’re in the middle of a friggin’ recession.

Yeah, I felt like poor Charlie Brown on Christmas when I got a very impersonal email yesterday from some obscure lady, at whatever-the-name-of-the-office-for-fellowship-thingies, saying that they were sorry but a lot of people had applied for that fellowship and I was NOT selected to continue moving forward in the process.

I wanted to slap her because although it was said in a neutral manner, I could still feel that they could care less (and also it was not address to me personally, it just said, hi, we’re sorry to, blah, blah, blah). I’m sure she doesn’t even have a stinkin’ master’s on something. And here she is being all casual, when she’s addressing a 90% PhD (I usually dislike to say I will have a PhD soon … but in situations like these I feel like letting it all out). I’m sure this process is similar elsewhere and my feelings are very common. But it still stings you when you don’t get to be at least considered for it. Whatever.

Things like these are the ones that bring back memories of sad times when I’ve felt like a failure while in grad school. When I didn’t do well in an exam or report. When my boss handed back a document all in red and I just felt like quitting. When I failed my qual. All those things come to mind.

After a while I started feeling better (meaning, I dumped all the drama on my loving boyfriend which takes his qual in less than 24 hours).

I think that there’s a reason for everything. Maybe, since I have not warmed up to the idea of starting my own lab (ever since I started doing research, back when I was in college, I knew I didn’t want to be a PI and beg for money and resources and worry about funding, but that’s for another post), this is a way of saying, well f*ck, you know you do not want to become a PI anyways. The prestige of not getting something like that fellowship is what really stings me, but deep in my heart I know that I don’t want to be a PI in the near future and that this way I don’t have to bullsh*t people into believing that that’s what I want to do. Or maybe it’s karma and I’m paying my dues for not praying as hard as I should, for not caring to finish this thesis and getting out into the world sooner rather than later, for feeling like a lazy ass because I’ve worked hard all my life, and f*ck, I’m still in school or for hating the corporation that’s becoming the church I used to love (I’m a rebellious christian … maybe this is God’s way of saying, pray my girl and things will happen … well Daddy God … I’m friggin’ tired of praying and waiting and hoping).

I dunno. I’ll try to eventually look for other fellowships to provide aditional funding for my postdoc … or maybe not. For now, I know my future boss’s grant is covering my soon to be salary. Most importantly, I’ll be spending my days and nights with the guy I love … and that is priceless and a better prize than any stinkin’ fellowhip.

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