27 and a PhD

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Today I started my new job as postdoc

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 today I started my first ever full time job. I guess being a postdoc can be considered a job. I’ve worked in the past, usually as an secretary assitant, doing undergrad research, and even as a nanny (which paid really well I might add if you get lucky like I did for a well-to-do family).

Anyways, I went to bed late yesterday night. I spent the whole day veggin’ out like I used to do the day before classes started. I washed and dried my hair so I would look presentable, but since I’m living off of my suitcase while the BF and I wait to move into our new apartment, I had a hard time choosing something casual, yet appropriate to wear. Back when I was in grad school (a little over 3 weeks ago) I would wear whatever was available, as long as it was a) clean, b) had no holes (at least visible ones), and c) had some silly message or Hello Kitty on it (I’m a sucker for that cat, so deal with it). I once went out with this postdoc in my old department (DO NOT RECOMMEND, avoid at all costs) and he would dress really nice, with cute Polo shirts and dressy pants. He had jeans and would wear shorts on ocassion, but he looked very cute and casual, without wearing a cute japanese doll on his clothes.

So, I pulled out one of my favorite shirts, woke up the BF so he could drive me to the new school and headed off. As soon as I got there I felt a bit grown up. Here I was, no longer a grad student, sort of ready to take over the world, face my new boss and fear (again) that I’m a completely incompetent scientist. I wonder if other recently minted PhD’s feel the same.

See, I used to go out with this guy that was super smart and that, for whatever reason, could remember all sorts of odd chemical/mathematical and physical equations for nearly everything. He finished up sooner than I did (his mom told me) and with not 1, but 2 friggin’ PhD’s. He’s now a postdoc and I imagine he’s super successful, given his attention to detail and out-of-this-world smarts.

Somehow I still carry that weight over my shoulders, that thing that reminds me that he’s super smart and competent and that I am not nearly as smart as he is (at least from my point of view). I mean, yeah, my title says Biophysics, but I still feel as clueless about a lot of things in science as I did the very first day I stepped into my grad school prep course. It’slike, I’m not good enough or worthy enough even though I busted my ass for 6 years at a very prestigious institution.

Anyways, the new boss is super adorable. He laid out his expectations for me and what he hoped I learn while I do this project. He seems super collaborative, very witty and really in tune with what he’d like for you to achieve and help you to get there. I’m super satisfied with the job, though I cannot lie … I’m scared shitless that I will disappoint him because I do not know how to do the type of science they do in his lab.

You might ask … why the hell did she choose such a position. There are several factors, but some of the most important ones are that a) I needed/wanted to find a job close to my honey, while he finishes his PhD, b) I tried (and interviewed) for a position in the field I was trained in but was not offered the job, c) I felt a little adventurous and wanted to get away from my comfort zone.

So, after signing the contract (which referred to me as Dr. 28-and-a-PhD) I went back to my boss’s office, got some parts of his grants to read and settled in my new space. I do not need a key to my office (which is shared with a staff person from another lab because my lab had to “borrow” space from a collaborator since there are a bunch of people in there … and a grad student).

I had lunch with the BF and in my car I had a box with little trinkets I’d gotten over the last few weeks to decorate my new office. I added some of them to my new space. I did not want to have way too many Hello Kitties, so I left some space for the covers (yeah, my papers have made the cover of some journals, thank you very, very much … I might add, some very well respected journals), books, and such. My new office does not yet feel like my office, but I hope in no time that will change.

Around 5pm I invited my BF to drop by and look at the place. He was very pleased with it, and happy that I have a decent sized window (I used to work in a lab full of computers and away from windows or glimpses of natural light, so this is a very welcomed change). A few students are getting their degrees this fall, so I’m secretly hoping I might get moved to an office that belongs to my lab, or where at least I can have some control over the window so I can open it and breathe fresh air.

Anyways, must take a shower soon. I took a long nap and I need to snap back to reality and get to sleep soon … otherwise I’ll never get my schedule adapted to the new place.

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3 Comments

  1. […] happen quite like that. It took me almost exactly 6 years to get out. Partly because I was scared of what would come next, partly because although my projects worked beautifully, it still took me all that darn time to […]

  2. Ragamuffin says:

    i begin my postdoc next week, and am enjoying reading your posts about the first steps into that new world. thank you 🙂

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Holy crap!!!! I’d been thinking about you. I know, sounds weird, but I used to read your (very insightful) comments on BenchFly. Congrats on your PhD!!! I was wondering how life was going. Thank you for stopping by. After a bit my posts, during my postdoc, got very dark. I was severely depressed, but never addressed it, and there was a bully in my lab who made life and science tough. After about 2yrs of postdocing I got out or the tenure track and got onto life as a staff scientist. Life is much better now and after facing an even bigger bully during one of my stints as a staff sci, I got the help I needed and have been doing way better. I’m, thankfully, at a different place, different job, still a staff scientist and life is looking pretty sweet. Let me know if you ever have questions or need a pair of ears. Congrats again and thank you so much for your comment. Best wishes!

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