27 and a PhD

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Four years ago, coming this summer, I had my thesis defense, quickly followed by the start of my postdoc. I remember that around this time 4 years ago, I was sick, writing the second to last chapter of my thesis and still processing data. I was also excited about joining my then boyfriend, now husband, in Canada and *finally* being together. My life seemed to be taking some shape, after being a student for the last 5.5 years. The future looked promising.

But in the back of my head, I still had some lingering doubts. I’d done two postdoc interviews, got an offer out of one, which was in a completely different discipline than the one I’d been trained in. The second interview went well, but I never got a second call. The PI phrased it as, “it’s not you, it’s me. We’re going in a different direction.” I also think he didn’t agree with all the methods we’d developed in my PhD lab to acquire and process data 10X faster than he did. Whatever the reason, I was leaving my PhD discipline behind and embarking in something new and completely foreign to me.

From the start there were signs that things were not going to go well. Most of my labmates had offices in a totally separate part of the building, and it took time to click with some of them. Others embraced me quite easily. I tried not to bother people too much and was flexible when it came to booking instruments. For the first few months I was eagerly learning how to do things and set up machines, mostly from grad students. I don’t remember the boss walking in once to check in on me. He basically left it all to everyone else to show me the ropes. And while some people would be OK with that, I wasn’t. I’d developed what I felt was a good working relationship with my PhD boss and we got along pretty well. I found myself longing for the talks we had about data and coming up with strategies to solve problems together.

Eventually I sort of  grew into the rhythm of things. But I still longed for a lot of the things I had before, not only boss-wise, but lab-wise. I was stuck with a relentless bully. I was having to work on most Fridays later than everyone else, so I could work alone and not justify or be questioned by everyone and their neighbour as to why I was loading my gel like that, or why I was preparing the buffer this other way. I was tired, listless. And honey recognized the depression, the feelings of desperation, anger, frustration. The imposter syndrome was kicking into high gear.

I was able to escape that situation and found my first job as a staff scientist in the wonderful city of NY. It wasn’t easy at first. I was scared of the city, but mostly of whether I could do science after a horrendous postdoc that ended in 0 publications. I felt like a failure. Who goes into a lab and doesn’t even get into the acknowledgements, all while her fellow postdocs and grad students are publishing left and right? What was wrong with me?

I’m still looking for some of those answers. But last year, I realized, that perhaps I wasn’t THAT much of a failure after all. After collecting data for a prof in NY, a paper came out, with my name included in the list of authors. Granted, there were about 10 different authors, mostly because the project had switched hands at various points. But that little paper published in a GlamorMag-type place (well, one of its offshoots) started to give me some of my old confidence back. I felt that I was doing something worthy and that my efforts had landed me in that list of authors. That those days spent in the cold, looking at a screen for hours, waiting for results and then the ensuing long sessions of data processing, landed me there.

But that was only the start. Late last week I got an email from another Glamor-type Mag, in which again I was in the author list, notifying us that the paper had been accepted, no corrections, no third reviewer crap about this ONE more essay the MUST be conducted to maybe accept the paper. I was reading that email on my way to work and a little happy scream and dance ensued. I’m sure people thought I was nuts. Whatever. I finally felt vindicated. In the two years I’d been in NY, TWO papers had come out bearing my name. Countless other projects there had also my touch on them, most which would never make into a publication … but those two, those beautiful papers, have given me so much hope that maybe there aren’t that many things wrong with me. That perhaps it was a combination of multiple factors that led to me having 0 papers out of postdoc-land but that in the same length of time I was in that lab, I got two papers out of my previous position. I was glad, and humbled. And I was pinching myself. I felt, I feel, vindicated.

I should remember this feeling in the future, when equipment breaks, or when I’m having a hard time training someone. I am enough and I can do great things … if I’m in the right environment. Cheers!

Changes, so many changes

When I moved to NYC almost two years ago, I knew that my position wouldn’t be a forever-type thing. I wanted, I needed to have some security, to get out of the training loop. I wanted to have benefits, to have a job that involved doing science, training, sample prep, and of course, learning new skills to add to my repertoire.

I knew the position would only be a temporary fix to my situation at the time (frustrated with academia, hated my postdoc, etc). I also knew, or at least expected, that the separation from honey would be a temporary one, especially while he finished his PhD. He’d be looking for work, hopefully in NYC or nearby, and we’d reunite after a while.

Hon was struggling for a few months to try to find work. He lived with his parents in the meantime, as my salary could not sustain the two of us. We went back to the long distance thing, with him doing most of the traveling to NYC. We’ve had a fantastic time in this city. This city is amazing. I’ve met some super fantastic folks, I’ve made contacts that I never even dreamed would be possible. I’ve met some of my favourite scientists, connected with emerging ones, in general, I’ve had a grand ole time.

I hadn’t been looking for work, or at least actively, since joining my current lab. Since I did such a short postdoc (in my opinion), only 1.9 years, I was afraid of doing a bunch of short stints at a couple of places, and creating the impression that I couldn’t hold on to something for a while, and improve my publication profile, network, present, etc.

Back in October I was contacted by a somewhat new hire at one of my previous places of training. I know this PI because they started in this place just as I was finishing. This PI’s postdoc lab is rather famous in my field, and has been very prolific in method-development. In addition, this lab has had a shit ton of trainees, some of which I’ve gotten to work with or meet since moving to NYC.

People at this previous place of training have been searching high and low for someone to be a manager of a lab in one of my disciplines of training. There have been some major changes (faculty-wise) and some of the people in power know of me and my work.

A couple of weeks ago I flew in for an interview, not sure of what to expect. I hadn’t seen these people since I left for my current job and I wasn’t sure how I’d fit in (if at all). Granted, I was trained at some point of my career there and people know the calibre of work I did. I was sure that all I’d get would be a free trip to say hello and goodbye and that’d be the end of it. I was oh-so wrong.

A few days ago I got semi-official confirmation that the position has been opened … for me. In essence I was asked to name everything I needed In order to leave NYC and join them. Yup. I’m still trying to pick my jaw off the floor.

I’m switching jobs once again. I’m going back and (hopefully) getting a do-over of some of the things I didn’t get to do, or did wrong. Hon will be relocating also, which means I get to have my cake and eat it too! Yeah, pinch me. I’m still trying to understand how the heck did this happen.

This new job has the potential for incredible amounts of growth. I’d be heading a lab I worked in, not as a PI, but as a bona fide manager. I’d be training people, creating protocols, collecting data, interacting with PI’s, postdocs and students of all levels. There would be no middle man like there is now. I’d basically become the female version of my current immediate supervisor, a person I adore beyond measure.

Yeah. I’m still freaking out. I can’t begin to wrap my head around the whole thing. I’ll be leaving NYC. That saddens me terribly. But what I earn now is not enough to live with hon, let alone cover the debt I have. I’d be getting access to the same level of benefits I currently have, along with more responsibility. I’d have access to a kick ass library, to decent sports teams, good food, and a whole new wave of talent.

I’m both excited and terrified. I’m excited about the possibility of working once again with people I know, but in a new aspect of my career. This is not a soft money position and I’m thrilled that the school/department/faculty kept me in mind when the whole change in faculty/department structure happened.

I also have some worries. I’d be the only woman in the lab, in a conservative environment where most of the faculty are white bearded dudes. And while I’ve been trained well in the science and in some admin stuff, I have no idea how to confront white bearded dudes, should they get out of line. I’m half their age at best … this shit is crazy.

I’ve certainly changed a bit from my old days there, so I don’t know how my “new” personality will mesh. I’m worried about that too. I’m worried about how I’ll be able to head the lab and move things along to show that the lab is self-sustaining and that we can bring more staff to help me. I’m worried about the pace of things, and about meeting the expectations. I don’t want to let anyone down. And of course, my imposter syndrome is acting up.

I’m happy about the change though (well, except the part about leaving NYC), about living with honey and being able to afford a place where we’re each others’ only roommate, of continuing our own little family, mamma, dadda and kitty. I’m happy to be able to drive places once again. I won’t miss living with total strangers (thankfully all of them have been sane!), the noises of the street, the crazy, stinky people during rush hour. NYC has been a tremendous adventure, but it’s my time to go.

We’ll see how things happen. But rest assured, I’ll keep writing about life in school, and life as a staff scientist, now loaded with moar responsibiliteez. Omai. I hope the new job, and the new me will still shed some light on the post-academic life. I hope y’all hang in there while I figure out my new roles, as a wife and lab manager.

Oh!? Did I mention that honey proposed and that we’ll be getting married in NYC before the move? Yeah …. totally. But that’s for another post, hehehe

Much love from my family to yours and a very merry 2013.

What’s in your CV?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about work (of course) and how I got to where I am, and how happy I feel at this time compared to last year. Last year I was feeling so miserable and sorry for myself. I had a job interview back home, and that had me a little excited, but eventually it didn’t pan out. That did give me hope that there were some interested souls out there willing to pay attention to my training and find it somewhat valuable.

At this time last year, and for the next 4-5 months (yes, 4 to 5 months, almost non-stop), I’d be sending CVs and resumes to whoever gave me the light of day. I had been to a couple of turning-your-resume-into-a-CV and vice versa workshops in grad school and then the postdoc and I was lucky to have a couple of super awesome tweeps look over mine and say “bleh, this is crap! Fix it!!!”

I had things written in paragraphs, I was rarely using (short and sweet) bullet points to showcase my mad science skillz and I needed to make it punchier (to quote my grad school PI who adores using that word).

As soon as I started at my new job, I immediately got out my CV and started adding skills as I mastered them. I’m somewhat lazy, especially when it comes to updating certain things, like my Twitter Bio, this blog, or hell, even my CV. So today, I started looking through the CVs and resumes I’d tweaked (or started from scratch) in the last year, and finally found one of my most recent versions of the CV, dated June 25th, 2011, very soon after starting at my current position.

For whatever reason I started updating the thing (possibly a pre-New Year’s resolution), and all of a sudden I found myself updating every little section, as if I was ready to apply to a new position (no, I’m happy at work, though occasionally I would like to punch my boss, but that’s part of our relationship). This got me thinking that I love to swift through resumes and CVs and learn about other people’s talents and experiences, what was their first job? When did they start in science? What awards and grants they’ve had and for how long? Reading some of these things sometimes triggers old memories, which help me tweak my CV and add old, yet important career points.

I won’t post my CV for obvious reasons, but I wanted to mention the areas included in mine, and see if you have the same, or if you have more or less.

The categories in my CV are:

  1. Work Experience (which is newly added, for obvious reasons, though I feel like changing the name to something less lame. Ideas?)
  2. Education
  3. Languages
  4. Skills (which I divided in categories: computer and lab)
  5. Publications (I’m tempted to move it all the way to the back, like TT-hopefuls do)
  6. Research experience
  7. Seminars
  8. Posters
  9. Teaching experience
  10. Volunteering
  11. Book Chapters
  12. Continuing education
  13. Awards and Memberships

I think there’s a better way of shaping my CV. It contains a lot of areas that are important to me (like skills, research experience, teaching, etc), but I believe that there’s a more coherent way of arranging everything. As it stands right now, I feel like my stuff is all over the place. I used to have a shorter version of my CV (I know, a lot of people don’t like this as a CV is supposed to chronicle your every step in the education/training/work ladder). But for some jobs I trimmed it down to the bare academic bones, to avoid having someone look at over 7 pages of me, me and more me. It felt …. wrong, I don’t know. I love to talk about myself all the time, yet, 7 or 8 pages of me made me feel … awkward.

So dear reader, I ask you now, how do you arrange your CV? Where do you start it? High school, college, graduate/professional school? How do you organize your CV? If you’re a recruiter, what do you look at first? What do you simply overlook,or ignore? Any areas that I’m missing? Any clever name for the “work experience” category? I’d love to read your ideas?

And, since I had a lot of help trimming mine and making it easier on the eyes, feel free to send your resume or CV my way. I’d be more than happy to take a look and help in any way I can.

PS. If you’ve taken a course, or audited one after grad school, do you bother to include it? Only if it’s specifically related to your discipline or future job? If you do include it, did you create a separate section in your CV for it? If not, where do you include it/them?

I’m employed (Act 3)

My apologies for the length of time it’s taken me to sit down and conclude the story of how I got my non-traditional job. I’ve been so busy. But, here it is. Thank you all for your comments, tweets, and kind words of encouragment.

Part 1 is here and part two is here.

Hon was more than a bit irked by the people at new job city. He kept asking me (pretty much every day) if I’d gotten any emails or calls from them. He couldn’t believe my bad luck (or blessing); every single place that approached me for an interview decided on someone else, closed the search, or something. Something happened, and it caused all my offers, and near offers to come crashing down. I cried, and prayed to the powers-that-be to give me some sort of answer. I was so confused and lost. I doubted I’d ever be back in research after my postdoc appointment ended. I was desperate and frustrated. But I also tried to do my part to stay competent by attending career seminars (please, even if you’re not in a position like mine, always, always keep an eye for career seminars, they might give you a different perspective and enhance your current skills). I went to workshops on new updates to pieces of software I already knew (or thought I did), salary negotiation, post-academic careers, writing effectively (I hope it shows!!). And although my CV is now peppered with these workshops, seminars and certificates of completion, I wish I could have gone to more of them earlier in my career, especially during my PhD. My PhD institution has some really talented people putting things in order and bringing good speakers and resources to help students choose a career path and get there, both in and out of the tenure track. Even if I fought and got frustrated at our postdoc affairs office initially (they were just getting started), they did a fabulous job of coming along and bringing interesting speakers, people from different paths and careers, counsellors, etc., to showcase some of the options available. There’s a common theme here … most schools I know have some sort of office or resources to help students keep current in different school/life affairs. These people put an incredible amount of time in doing that … if you’re in doubt, or need help or want some counselling, do get in contact with them. Now! I’ll wait …… If not, try seeking out the alumni office from your previous institution or help get one started at your current place. I guarantee you there’s a TON of people out there just like you.

By the end of April another ad came out, this from a place close(ish) to my PhD school, with a great reputation and impressive structural bio facilities. I applied, got a call, and by mid-May I was waiting for them to get back with some sort of schedule. I was happy that there appeared to be a glimmer of hope somewhere. I churned out a ton of data, made my peace with the gossipy labmate and kept on going. My temporary plan was to stay in Canada while waiting to hear from the close-to-grad-school place, then head home and start a new application cycle if nothing worked out. It wasn’t all nice and fuzzy like it appears here, there was a lot of turmoil in my head and heart. I was agonizing.

I also considered going back to school (something which I haven’t given up on … at some point I may want to try to get a software or hardware certification, at the very least), but it was too late to apply and get my stuff in place at that point.

Close to the end of my postdoc appointment, on a day when I had more experiments planned than time to run them, I noticed a missed call with an area code I recognized as being from new job city. I’m a glass-half-empty kinda person, so my mind immediately started thinking about the negatives of it. The caller left a message. It was the ad guy. He said,  with a strong voice, that we needed to talk, that he had news and wanted to see how things were going with my search. I started some experiments and sat down to answer the call, my hands shaking in disbelief. I knew a decision had been made just by the tone of his voice, I just wasn’t sure it was in my favour. When ad guy answered his voice was very calmed and pleasant compared to the voicemail, and after giving me an update on what was going on with the search (along with an apology for the length of time it had taken) he asked, point blank, what I was doing and if I had a job. I answered, adding that I’d be jobless soon (in a matter of hours almost).

After talking about a couple of other things he said that there had been some changes in new job city, and that they had a junior level position open, which they thought I’d be a better fit (I was applying to a mid-to-senior staff position originally). After going through some of the details, and thinking about the possibilities (ie. from jobless and homeless to job in former discipline in cool new city), we both agreed that he’d go back and talk to the committee, come up with an offer and see whether I liked it. I was definitely interested. Now it was just a waiting game.

The cool thing was that, for the first time in a long time, someone asked me what I wanted, what would make me happy and would make me seriously consider the offer. The guy was/is very matter of fact, and he asked me what I’d like to see in paper and ink to bring me there ASAP. He wanted the offer to be so good that I couldn’t say no (except if I’d won the lottery, in which case, screw it, I’m getting my own lab to study my own thing, AFTER a LONG vacation). Ad guy asked what things I’d like to see spelled in the offer, benefits, access to what, etc. Before I answered I went and read a bit on negotiating (via the TT aggregator, which I think it’s a great tool for negotiating salaries, even for staff positions). One of the main points which people kept mentioning over and over was that, it is better (necessary I’d say) to have everything you want on paper, clearly stated and spelled-out so that later the employer won’t come down and try to say something different. If it’s in paper, there’s evidence to back your claims and prevent your employer from screwing you.

I wasn’t so thrilled with the original salary. I did some research and remembered what the salary was for a similar position in Rainbow Lake. I used that as a starting point, and though they never matched the full amount I would have loved, I did get an increase in my original offer which was enough for me to seriously consider it.

I got a small relocation allowance, permission to go back and get my cat, and other things later on, and a flexible starting date, so I could rest, take a break from science and recover  between the end of my postdoc and the beginning of my life as a staff member (though the family drama in the last couple of weeks has been biting me in the ass, ugh). I accepted the offer and moved to cool-city-with-tiny-apartments-and-insane-rent a few weeks ago. I’m learning to juggle more senior things and make tons of decisions which I’d never done before. It is exciting and thrilling, and scary. The position seems to fit my needs and wants for now. And it gives me the chance to evaluate my career under a new light and see if this is really what I want to do.

So with that dear readers and tweeps, my job search concludes (for now, anyways). I’m very happy to start in a position with room to grow, acquire new skills, and polish existing ones. Job city is closer to my mom, dad, sister and nephew, and it’s at an intermediate place where hon can travel more easily than when we were both in grad school. New job city has many challenges, and it’s forcing me to grow out of my shell, and become of a go-getter … but it’s hard. Once things have stabilized I’ll be taking care of a couple of health issues (not too serious, but important enough to improve my life in a significant manner). I already feel better career-wise at the new place, and I’ve only been there for a few short weeks. I’m giving myself a year to see if the new job and new job city are worth it, or whether it’s time to hang up the scientific gloves and switch paths. I’ll try to explore my options to grow professionally and personally outside of work.

I thank you, my readers and tweeps for your encouragement, kind words, thoughts, prayers and the meetings IRL to provide support. Besides my family (especially my mom and honey), you have been at the heart of this saga. It takes a village to raise a scientist, I’m sure of that. I’m extremely lucky to be friends and tweeps with you. You know who you are, but I’ll be sure to give you credit where it is due, no worries. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now, onto that pesky apartment hunting thing I need to solve ASAP 😀

I’m employed, the process and the wait (Act 2)

This is Act 2, recounting how I got my new job. Act uno is here.

So, I swallowed (some of) my pride, emailed the guy from the ad and, in a couple of sentences, talked about my training and some details about my previous (and current) scientific life. I asked if the search committee would even consider someone like me (because I was/am still new(ish) research wise), and waited, and waited and waited. The guy wrote back, asked for a full application packet, but couldn’t make any promises. That was enough for me to get a glimmer of hope, maybe all was not lost. One of my 2011 resolutions was to get out of my postdoc lab, with or without a job. I didn’t want to go back to the lab after new year’s, I wanted out.

While waiting for signs of life from the search committee, I probably filled more than 50 applications to all sorts of jobs in North America and parts of Europe. After one particularly discouraging bout, I was ready to give up. I hadn’t been updated from any of the jobs I’d applied which were in areas compatible with my training and I didn’t know what was going on. Then out of the blue, I got a call from the ad guy. He wanted to see if I’d be up for a phone interview. I did, of course and we spent almost an hour talking about my previous research experience and accomplishments … but it felt as though all I’d done was babble on and on (brings to mind an entry from Dr. (now Prof) Becca). I was out of breath for the first 10 minutes, and my hands were shaking uncontrollably, I thought I’d hang up accidentally or something worse. Of course I didn’t hear from the guy for sometime, again. Eventually I got an email from a place in the south …. and on that same day I also got an email from the ad guy at new job city … somehow I’d convinced people at new job city that I was worth the invitation. After a few weeks of non-stop interviews, and considering the possibility of moving to Rainbow Lake, Alberta, I went for my interview at new job city. I’ll spare most of the details, but basically I had a full day of one-on-one interviews, a job talk and dinner (please be gracious and accept any sort of EtOH they provide, it will help calm your nerves, trust me).

I got back to Canada, and waited, and waited, and waited. Hon kept saying that I should email the people at new job city. I’d gotten a very generic email from my (now) new boss thanking me for my visit, and he mentioning that the committee still had other candidates to interview. With every day that passed a little bit more of hope kept fading. By this time I’d learned that I wouldn’t be moving to Rainbow Lake, or anywhere else for that matter … all my offers had fallen through. I was very sad and angry. I also made my mind, I wasn’t asking my boss for an extension. I was ready to go, with or without a job offer.

I emailed a guy at school, asking him if he was looking for someone. He was, but the guy was very busy, so we never got to talk about anything concrete job-wise. A part of me wanted to stay close to honey, be at the same school, just for a wee bit of extra time. I had some pretty good ideas for experiments and approaches I could try if I joined this lab … but a part of me really didn’t want to go back to protein biochemistry. It was as if my love for computer-controlled everything won over biology and biochemistry (apparently this is more common that I originally thought … especially if all you do is purify protein, after protein, and set up trial, after trial). I really couldn’t see myself holding yet another flask full of 2XYT, making another buffer, or running 6 gels at once.

I’d also given up hope from ever hearing back from new job city. I decided against writing a desperate email or something similar. All I wanted from them was to write back with the negative, I needed an answer to put this all behind me. 

I’m employed, the present (Act 1)

It’s no secret that I’ve been looking for work, and throughout the last couple of weeks I’ve mentioned bits (or tons) regarding a certain position in a cool new city. I’m happy to report that it is now official. I have a job. Though I’ve been carrying a letter bearing my name, a certain 5-digit figure and info regarding this position … it simply didn’t feel real until I had my papers signed and an ID with my name and picture on it. I have a job, it’s a real job, not another training position. It’s loosely academic, in the sense that I will work with a sort of core lab, serving various users. People at this place expect a couple of years worth of commitment. I’ll have an annual evaluation, a retirement account, health coverage, personal days off and some vacation time (not as much as I’d like, but it’s negotiable). I’m very happy career-wise. This position closely aligns with my grad school training and career interests. As far as I can tell, my labmates are very nice people, and I’m part of a small group, which increases in size upon meeting with collaborators and other interested parties. Small groups are my thing. I’m happy because I’ll be working again with Linux (yeepee!!!!) and with some kick-ass instrumentation. The group goes to a national/society meeting every year (or so I’ve been told), and there’s a possibility that I’ll be part of some search committees in the future. I have a BOSS and I also have a more immediate boss, whom I’ve been in constant communication since before the offer was made. This person has a similar background to mine (with, of course, a shit ton of experience), and seems to be easy to work with (at least judging by our emails). I met all my labmates during my interview, and I instantly liked them. We’ll see if this holds true after a few weeks/months. I hope I can make it work.

On to the details on how this position came about. As far back as October and November of last year I was very pissed off and tired of the situation in my postdoc lab. I had the relentless comments from my dear gossipy labmate going on for a weeks (at that time they were only directed at me, and a student that was finishing, but later it involved every single member of the lab). I was tired, I wanted out. It appeared as if my postdoc boss was uninterested in my work (or that’s how it felt), and had me going on and on with some experiments which I was convinced wouldn’t work (but hey, I had to test that to back it up, right?). I started looking for positions back then, though I had no clue of where I’d end up, or if I’d be in science at all. I contacted a prof at my college Alma mater, and got an interview pretty quickly, but the prof offering the position to somebody else. I felt terrible, and judging by this prof’s language in the emails (prior to my interview), it seemed as if he was just waiting for me to say yes (suuuure, right?!). I didn’t want to look any further. I felt defeated. I’d been so psyched imagining a way out of the lab (sooner rather than later) being close to my family, etc, but it wasn’t meant to be at that time, I still had lessons (and workshops) to learn/attend. Now I’m glad it didn’t happen. Most of the work involved cell culture, which I didn’t feel like learning (I’m a bad biology major, OK?, what can I say), and would have used very little of my manual/technical training (something that was also a problem in my postdoc lab).

One night I was particularly pissed (though hon might have a different opinion on the exact length of time) and I had a conversation with Genomic Repairman. We talked about my previous experience, ideal geographical location (one of the coasts) and other details. I’d seen an ad for a position at new job city, but it seemed like too big of a risk to even attempt it. But after talking to GRM, and re-reading the ad, I thought “well, maybe this is destiny telling me to give it a shot, worse comes to worse I don’t ever hear back from them and that’s it.”

To be continued ….

Female, scientist and homeless

Can’t give too many details but, there is a possibility of work in the States. In a couple of days I leave Canada. I’m packing away my life of 2 years in Canada and 6 years in grad school city to move to the unknown. I have to downsize drastically, and sadly I have to move alone, as hon will stay in Canada to finish his studies. I can/will leave my things in Canada and it’s possible I get reimbursed once I’ve completed the move, but first I have to spend money.

I got a call from one of the places I had visited earlier this year. The place was very welcoming and nice. I liked that almost everyone is/was a staff scientist and that I wouldn’t have too many people to share my working quarters with.  I don’t hate people, I don’t mean it like that. But, rather than sharing office and lab space with 15 people, it’s possible I get my own (looooong bench space), and maybe a bit of office space (but the offices and lab quarters are way apart, so people mostly stay at the bench). It’s a science place, but it’s neither industry nor academic.

I’m going back to what I know, but applied to something completely different. I may get a “fancy” title with the word ‘scientist’ in it (it’s true peeps, I’ll get to introduce myself from now on as some sort of fancy scientist). In paper I should be getting more moolah, but in practice I’ll be taxed on 3 levels (city, state and fed), which will invariably have me seeing a lot less money than I would have wanted (I did negotiate, but there’s no way to compensate for taxes, and no, I’m not complaining about taxes, it’s my civic duty and I’m happy to do it).

I’m thinking of renaming the blog ‘female scientist and homeless’ because I barely have money to move to uber-cool-city-with-great-science-and-too-small-apartments and I may not see more money for a long time. Possible new place of work will provide a roof over my head for a couple of days (read, a couple). I have a couple of (very, VERY) distant family members, and a grade-school “friend” who live there, but (sadly) can’t play hosts for me while I get my feet off the ground (in an ideal world I’d be happy to crash on somebody’s couch for 1-2 months while I get started, but reality is a bitch, and I don’t have any money, for realz). And because uber-cool-city-with-great-science-and-too-small-apartments is cool, landlords need to see a lot of moolah in all sorts of deposits and this and that prior to letting me in one of their (possibly not so fancy) apartments. I won’t have a car, furniture or even pots and pans to survive the first days (or months, at this stage, who knows who long it’s going to be). I’m taking a sleeping bag, and hoping I can pick up enough loose change on the streets of uber-cool-city to buy a pump and sleep somewhere (I’ll investigate whether there are showers at (possible) new job).

So, to summarize, I (may) have a job (I haven’t exactly signed anything, so to me, it’s not real at all, and based on the last 6 months they could back out at the very last-minute) which requires me to move back to the States, to a state I’ve never lived in, to a complete unknown, which is hard for me to swallow since I’m a type-A, planner-to-the-max kinda person. Yeah, I want to pull my hair to say the least these days.

We’ll see how that goes. Oh, and I’ll also turn 30 alone and (possibly) homeless. I am strongly considering renaming the blog female scientist and homeless.