I am starting my lab as an Assistant Professor at a Big Research University (summer 2010). I have a super partner and an adorable kiddo, Mini-G. I tend to rush into things and then figure them out as I muddle along. I'm sure that will be true here, too. I hope to use this space to maintain my sanity and share my perspectives on science and academia. These perspectives may sometimes qualify as rants. There will undoubtedly be some crazy times on the tenure track. Gmail me [at] primaryinvestigator
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Today I had to fire someone. Well, actually I had to tell one of my lab peeps (let's call him Al) that they would only have a job for a few more months. This is not because Al sucks. Al helped me get my lab up and running and, though not a rock-star, has been solid. No, Al did not do anything wrong.
But I had to let Al go. Because the grant that was paying for Al is running out of money. And I was faced with a choice. Between keeping Al around or taking on another grad student. I thought hard about this, and I really think this is the right decision of my lab. Al was helpful in starting out, but the grad students I am considering are smart and motivated. And they can get on training grants.
So there you have it. I told Al because I wanted him to have as much time as possible to find another gig. But it sucked. It is the first time I have had someone in my office fighting to hold back tears.
I need a beer
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Oh, that sucks, I'm sorry. Awful to have to let someone go so soon after starting things up! *hugs*
I agree it suck, I just finished my last rochefort 10 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochefort_Brewery) but I'll get some next month from my importer. let me know if you want some
Brutal. Letting someone go who helped at the beginning for financials is never easy or fun. My condolences to both of you.
Yes, it sucks. For both of you. But you need to look to the long term and this is the right decision for your lab. Still, it will likely take more than one beer...
Rift, if the institution is big enough, good techs get picked up by other labs right away.
Gerty, sorry about the situation, I guess here is the hardest part about being a PI. But it was the right decision, who knows if you keep the lab going and get additional funding, Al might could come back. I've seen this with supertechs that come and go due to funding.
I've been in Al's position twice. The first time took me 7 months to find a job (in 2008), but in month 7 i had multiple great offers. The second time, I decided to go back for a PhD. I am sure he has acquired a great set of skills in your lab thast will make him very marketable. If he is mobile, there is are a lot of opportunities for technician work. 3 months is still tough, especially given the time of year. Most job opportunities follow the academic cycle.
Don't feel too bad Gerty, just give him an awesome rec and keep an ear out for people looking for a tech. You have to do what you think is best for the lab especially when you're in these early start up stages. Just don't expect too much out of your grad students for a while, they don't hit their stride until the middle of year two or 3 :P
I think my deductive powers have waned with age.
I somehow initially assumed the person who had to be let go was a grad student.
Looking at the comments, it seems like Al is a tech...I've not thought this through, but it appears to me that letting a tech go is not nearly as bad as letting a grad student go (in terms of how the fired person is impacted).
Yep - one of the toughest things I've had to do so far in my career.
Hardest part of the PI job in my experience.
Thanks, everyone. It did indeed suck. When I hired Al (he was a technician-sorry for the ambiguous post, gc), we agreed that this was a temporary gig just to get things up and running. I've been doing really well recruiting grad students, and with recent budget projections, it was clear that now was the time for me to move on. Still, didn't make it easier. I'll keep my eye out for somewhere else to move them, but we'll see.
Fucking shite innit. Funnily enough, it never really gets easier :/
Sorry to both of you
Shitcanning people is definitely the worst part of being a manager.
Firing people it hard. It does get easier though.
And believe me, you will have to do it again. Likely a number of times.
Yes, it was really unpleasant. I don't know if it will ever get easier. But it was the right thing for my lab.