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On the market - what to do with a priority score
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DonorsChoose - more projects to support
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Oh, the guilt...
Monday, October 25, 2010

Priority Score Confusion
Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Working from home sucks; aka "Preeclampsia for Dummies"
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Editor's choice
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Let the obsessing begin
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DonorChoose - start giving!
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Careful what I say...
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Challenges at the bench
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What am I really?
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A double standard
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The Little Lab Bench That Could
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What I'm glad I didn't know before...
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Round Up: 8/29 - 9/4
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Dr. O's advice to new grad students
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What you should know as a new TT faculty
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How picky is too picky?
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Hello LabSpaces!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
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Dr. O

After a frustrating year on the tenure-track job hunt, my eyes are still on the prize, and I've learned that sheer will might be the most important quality required for this career track.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"You can't turn down a job that hasn't been offered."

I've heard this statement a gazillion times during my tenure-track job search, and, for the most part, I agree with its sentiment. After a fruitless year on the market, it's clear that I can't be too picky about the jobs for which I apply right now. As a result, I've started applying for positions that aren't completely ideal, in that the institution 1) might not be able to provide the start-up package of my dreams, 2) won't have the kinds of collaborators I've imagined working with, and/or 3) doesn't carry the same prestige that other big Us would. These are all things that I can live without, to a certain degree, and my application portfolio has reflected this.

However, there are some things I just can't live without; with a baby on the way, one of these is a happily-employed husband. Hubby makes much more money than I doing a job he loves, yet he's willing to leave his home and jeopardize his career for me. As a compromise, I've granted him full veto power over any job I'm interested in. If he looks at the destination and finds that he will have a difficult time finding gainful employment, I don't apply...and that's that. We can't afford to have one of us out of work for a year or longer, especially with a baby on the way, no matter how great my job might be. Hubby and I also have no intention of doing the long-distance thing for any length of time, so living in two different cities to make my career work just isn't gonna happen. Enough stress occurs during a "two-body" career transition, and this agreement has worked for our marriage, eliminating what I'm sure could have resulted in countless arguments.

On the other hand, I've been told time and time again that I should be applying for absolutely everything out there, even those jobs I have no intention of ever taking. ("You can't turn down a job you haven't been offered.") And I can't help but suspect the sentiment is that I should be considering every job out there, even if it would be bad for my marriage...that somehow I'm not as dedicated of a scientist because I'm not willing to put my personal life on the line for my career. But I've always believed that being a good scientist, or even a fantastic scientist, does not require sacrificing your personal life. As a postdoc, I've regularly worked 9-10 hour days, taking time in the morning to blog or work out and getting home in time to cook/eat dinner with Hubby. I've enjoyed most of my weekends, making Saturdays and Sundays in the lab short unless a grant deadline is looming or I have an experiment that requires an extra day of the week to complete. I may not have a two-page-long list of publications, but my CV is strong and I have a well-developed project that will come with me when I start my own lab. So why should I start compromising my personal life, especially my marriage, now?

So okay, let's play devil's advocate for a moment. Say I apply for one of these jobs that I have no intention of taking. Maybe nothing comes from it, so no big deal, but maybe I get an interview. I take the interview, "just for practice", the interview goes well, there's a second interview, and suddenly I'm confronted with an offer I can't refuse. Hubby begins feeling guilty about wanting me to say no and starts looking for jobs near the university. In many of these places, this likely includes a part-time clerk position at the local map store - not really a stimulating job for a guy with a masters in engineering. Or we start considering living apart for a while, with an infant in the picture. Or I turn down the job, but always wonder what it might be like to work at Forbidden U. Just about any way the scenario plays out, our marriage takes a hit.

Hubby hasn't asked for much in this process...only 2 or 3 jobs have been taken off the list at his request. This seems a small sacrifice for a girl who has gotten so much out of her life already, and I don't mind it at all.

So why can't others mind their own business?

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Genomic Repairman
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The two or in your case 2.5 body problem is an issue that requires folks to be flexible and creative to solve. I don't envy being in your shoes when you have to make the decision but I wish you the best of luck.

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I think the fact that you have made these decisions in advance puts you in a good position. That way, you won't be stuck wondering "what if" about a position, because you won't apply for it in the first place.

When DH was searching for a job, we had the same requirements: he would only apply to areas where I could also get a decent job, and we would not do the long-distance thing. Those are the rules we set up in order to make both of us happy, and we ended up staying right where we were because he got a great job offer, I have a few options as well, and we both (now) like the city.

So, just go with your plan and tell everyone else to stick it. It's none of their damn business anyway!

Silver Fox
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I think that *sometimes* it can be worthwhile to apply for jobs one has no intention of taking - for the contacts or practise (like you said) - but usually extra applications and interviews can take up too much time. I think the times I'd consider it would be when I'd really like to explore the company or institution for possible connections or jobs down the line, or when I think my evaluation of whether I'd want or would take the job might turn out to be faulty. That being said, I've definitely not applied for some jobs I thought I wouldn't take!

Lady Scientist
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I get infuriated by that (the suggestion that I'm limiting myself too much). Why should I waste my time or someone else's time? Also, why is it a bad thing that I make sure that I'm happy. Life is just too short to do otherwise.

Lab Mom
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Don't do it! Don't interview for stuff you don't want. It is a waste of time and energy and you open yourself up to a bunch of "what-ifs" which is the last thing you need when you are on the search for the right job. The red-herring job search is just a distraction.

Right after his dissertation defense, LabDad was offered and interview in North Dakota. (now no offensive to anyone living in the great frozen tundra of ND) but there was no way in HELL I was moving to ND. So I vetoed it. (It takes 2 yeses and 1 no in this family) Anyhow.. he hemmed and hawed about how he should at least look at it. But i was adamant. Even if they promised him double rainbows and fairy dust, I would forever be unhappy living in ND. (And if mama ain't happy, nobody is happy) No matter how good the job was it wouldn't fit our family. So by not even testing those waters, he was able to get re-focused and put it out of his mind.

I KNOW if he had gone and it had been a decent package he would have tried to talk me into it, and his drive to find something better would have been gone. (and yes, clearly we found something better)

So my advice as someone who has been on the side of your Hubby is DON'T DO IT. That time/energy is best spent looking for the right job, not just "a" job.

Dr. O
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Thanks for all the comments, and reassurance, guys. LM - I can see things going down that exact just seems best that I don't go there in the first place. I see the value in practice interviews, but I have several chances to give invited talks at conferences/other universities' seminars. That will just need to be enough, and hopefully I don't totally blow the first interview I get!! ;)

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Interviewing is A LOT of work, especially if you have to travel with a little one in the picture. Just to play devil's advocate, though...interviews in academia can be a great way to meet people. Folks that you might never have a chance to talk to will sit down for 20-30 m and give you (and your work!) their undivided attention. This can pay off big in the future. Not mention that negotiating is always easier if you have multiple offers. I don't think you should apply to anywhere that there is NO CHANCE IN HELL I WILL EVER GO THERE. But there could be places that surprise you, too.

That being said, you should never feel that you are being asked to choose between your family and a job. That is just lame.

Good luck!

Dr. O
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Thanks Gerty! Hubby has actually been pretty open to me applying for places we're not sure of...the "sounds interesting, but it's not really clear how that will work" kind of place. I've actually applied for several that we're not sure about, for the same reasons you've pointed out. I just couldn't figure why I should apply when he said "absolutely no"...seems like a recipe for disaster.

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And I can\'t help but suspect the sentiment is that I should be considering every job out there, even if it would be bad for my marriage...that somehow I\'m not as dedicated of a scientist because I\'m not willing to put my personal life on the line for my career.

It\'s not just a suspicion, at least in my case. I have been told that almost word-for-word, completely explicitly. I was flabbergasted.
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