Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Academic Mob is guiding my career

A recent post by A Natural Scientist got me thinking about my inability to steer away from academia.

Every time I set my mind to an "alternate" career path, someone from academia comes along and makes me an offer I can't refuse. Why do they keep pulling me back?

Example: I decide there is no hope of me getting a tenure track job (yup, my applications last season were THAT well received). Then, within the course of two weeks 1) I get offered a very nice academic postdoc ($50k + benefits), 2) chat with arguably the top 5 names in my field, who offer to pass around my CV, 3)start a dream collaboration, meaning I get to do EXACTLY the kind of interdisciplinary work I would want to do as a faculty member, but didn't have the means to do until now, and 4) get approached for a research assistant prof. job at another institution (verbal, nothing formalized and contingent on funding).

I mean, really? I can't make this stuff up.

And of course, each time it happens I get warm fuzzy feelings of belonging as hope returns that I can someday become a professor. But then, as always, the feeling wears off and I start doubting. Then, invariably, once I reach a crossroad and plan to turn away from academia, another opportunity comes along. Then it starts all over. Rinse and repeat, career PCR as the cycle starts all over again.

I almost wonder if the promise of an academic career is like a drug and that I am just an addict who can't see the reality of what's going on. Are these opportunities or distractions?

Only time will tell, but my hair is graying rapidly, my joints are creaking, and my kids are growing like weeds. In other words, I sure as hell don't feel like I have a ton of time before I obtain a real job....

ARRRGGGGHHH!!! I hate indecision! All I want is to feel like I'm in control of my career choices....


  1. It sounds like you are in control of your career. You just need to wait a little bit longer for some things to finalize and you get to pick your path. I know that sounds all nice and easy, but I understand how nerve-wracking and terrifying this is for you. Wanting to make sure that you pick the right path for you and your family, having to balance the deadlines for accepting/declining offers, and having to continue with your current work while all of this is going on around you. In the end, only you and your family can decide what is best for you all, and I am sure that you will be happy with whatever you choice. Best of luck!

    1. Hmmm... I think we may have different definitions on the word "control...."

      But I get what you're saying - it's all headed in the right direction so I should be happy. I just wish it were less hectic/faster to get to my goal...

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUbTW928sMU

    (You can check out any time you like...)

    1. Ahh... so maybe this is where I have control, lol.

      All in all, I know I shouldn't be complaining. But all this back-and-forth is driving me crazy (nevermind what it's doing to my wife).

      But I will try and turn a new page today and embrace the situation for what it is - a sign that others have faith in me, and that I should start having faith in them as well :)