27 and a PhD

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Jobs, offers, salaries

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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I know, I know. I’ve neglected the blog quite a bit. And I’m still not my usual tweeting self. It’s been a few intense months. Lots of change (some of it good, some of it so-so). I decided to go on the job market after my depression episode earlier this year. I’m doing much better, and now I’m seeing a psychologist on a regular basis and trying to learn how to deal with everyday shit. But I’m still not my old self online.

But, the shit I’m dealing with now is of a different sort. Since March of this year I’ve been stalking the job boards in my discipline, looking for a different job. I warned my boss and my chair and they seem supportive. Luckily the difficult boss is busy writing grants and going to conferences and hasn’t had time to harass me. I’m in a much better place now.

So, yes, a job search. Yet again. It’s no secret that moving south was not all I expected. Things have been tough, my job, while rewarding, has been made quite difficult by supposed experts in my field. But I’ve kept on, keeping on.

Luckily, because of the experience and expertise I’ve acquired here, I’ve had quite a few phone interviews and received great feedback, even if that hasn’t lead to in person interviews, let alone offers. Only 2 places have called back for in person interviews. Overall it’s been a good boost for my self-esteem. As I type this I’m checking the schedule for an interview in industry come August. This is quite scary as I’d never had any luck applying to my industry, but what (appears on paper at least) I’ve seen in the job description makes this job my dream job (if there’s such a thing). Sadly it’s in a male-dominated place. And though I have no doubts that I could succeed, it is a bit scary that there’s no one like me, no one that looks, identifies and sees things like me. I’ll see if I get an offer, though I doubt it as it’s mostly a boys’ club.

I’m also in the process of reviewing an interesting offer from a place I interviewed at recently-ish. I liked everyone, and the science and equipment are very good. But I am rather concerned about a few things: the person who’d be my boss seems to be very concerned about keeping costs low, this scares me as I’m afraid that if I needed to buy a reagent or fix something, it’d take FOREVER to not only justify the cost, but get the material(s) on site. This person is very smart and seemed genuinely concerned about my fulfillment in the place, but I’m worried about costs and the attitude I’ve seen. Perhaps this is a personality thing. Or perhaps it’s more serious. At this moment I can’t tell which one is it.

I’ve been asked to name my price (salary). BUT, I’ve been reminded that when the position went up, it was for someone with less schooling (a bachelor’s with 10yrs of experience or a master’s with 5). This leads me to think that they’ll want to keep the salary on the low range. And while I am not expecting to make a 100K (until or unless I’m near retirement), I would appreciate a slight bump in my salary, considering that while it wouldn’t be in NYC or Boston, the cost of living IS higher than in the south.

There’s no relocation assistance no matter how you phrase it. And while I know I can deduct all that at tax time (and I’d be moving >600mi), it would make a super hole in my savings effective immediately. In fact, if I had to move this week, I’d have to decline the job as I have no funds (I thought of starting a Go-Fund-me, but who the hell do I think I am, and who the hell would contribute to this??). So, that’s another consideration.

The job would put me in a geographical area near my husband, but not super super close. It would be better that the “air commute” we will embark come September. The area is rather remote, rural and has no major highways … so I’m scared that I’ll be as bored as I am right now, and I supposedly live in a “city”!!!

The things that are consuming my energy are: a possible move, the issue about the boss being cheap, the remote location and how I feel about being disconnected from civilization, and of course, how I’d fare at the job. And hell, the question about name your salary, when your potential boss is cheap, isn’t making things easier.

What are your thought on this?

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1 Comment

  1. DrDad, PhD says:

    I feel your pain, and have been going through very similar decisions.

    Rather than tell you what I think, I’ll explain how I eventually got to my decision.

    Can you break down your worries and deal with them one at a time? For example, a move might not be so bad if it’s a better job or living situation. So skip that one and move into examining if the job is good. Can you ask anyone just how cheap your boss is or ask him/her directly? If it’s a deal breaker, it’s best to get it out in the open.

    As for the area, have you been able to visit as part of your interview yet? How did it feel? What impressions did you have? Go with your gut, but decide how severe it will effect you. Is there some aspect of civilization you can cling to? If you haven’t visited, try to get there and explore. If the job will pay for it that’s great, but if not you’ll get a chance to see what it’s really like to live there. Visit the downtown area. Is it cute and quaint or does it make you cringe?

    As for the job, trust you can do it. You’ve made it this far for a reason. Yeah, there will always be aspects you’ll need to learn. But that’s what grad school teaches you – that you can learn anything and become a passable expert in very short time.

    I know it’s not easy, but you’ve got this. As stressful as these decisions are, this is a good kind of stress if it leads to better opportunities or relief from a bad situation. I speak from experience…

    If you have any specific questions post or PM me. Sometimes just having a sounding board helps. 🙂

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