Sunday, January 19, 2014

Should I stay or should I go?

I'm sorry for the lack of posts, but my plate has been rather full and my mind has been spinning in a thousand directions. I'm posting this to help with one of my biggest challenges - deciding if I should jump ship (and thereby also go the route of industry) or stay in it for the long haul.

To be fair, the whole place is a bit screwy. Even though I feel specifically targeted. the whole environment isn't exactly the best right now. My problem is that I love the institution and what it stands for, seem to have my values aligned with the leadership, but the department is stuck in a quagmire at the intermediate level (lab peeps get along just fine, but PIs don't seem to support/encourage each other).

_IF_ I can gain independance it might be better, but I'm still struggling with the concept of starting out here. Can I change the culture? I've already begun to, but I'm afraid it'll be long process unless I either 1) have the support of senior leadership to specifically change the culture or 2) people leave and are replaced by more open-minded folks....

So what say you, or wise and worldly readers? Any thoughts?


  1. I have followed your blog for awhile. I think you should leave the current lab.

    Without the PI's support, it will be very difficult to land an academic job. Lacks of very good/strong reference letters from your postdoc advisor (I recalled it is the 2nd one) hurts the chances of being the finalists. i.e., you do not even have a chance to explain for yourself since the search committee have already exclude you due to the letters.

    I am not here encouraging you to go to the industry, rather, I truly believe you should minimize the damage you got from this current PI. Change to another lab and continue on the academics.

    Good luck.

    1. I am definitely of the mindset to keep my options open.

      I know I can get another postdoc at the drop of a hat, but I'm not sure I want to go that option. One consideration for me is that I'm quickly advancing on 40 years of age, and don't see the NIH loosening up the purse strings any. The current funding climate is making for a tough sell for an academic career unless I see substantial moves on what is required for tenure...

  2. I've been a "in for a penny in for a pound" kind of person (before I ended up after my post-doc and saw my new job). Now, I've decided that I should give myself a time frame, "give it x months/years" and then when the time is up - if it isn't better, cut your losses and start something new.

    Partly why I started thinking this is that I saw so many post-docs trying to get through in a very unsupportive environment and it spilled over in their private life and then when push came to shove they lost a lot... even those who got a TT position it was a 50-50 to keep family and all... Maybe I've been in highly competetive places where people are more prone to view family as "dispensbable" or maybe it is just bad luck? I just know that I gave my old job way too long time, and it festered and then once I cut ties and applied for new venues I realised that there were places that wanted me and that I could be valued somewhere else.

    I think it would be good for you to take stock on where you are now, give yourself a time frame and then see what happens. It doesn't sound like the best place, so if you think its worth it - the payoff- then that's one things. But if it causes you too much trouble, maybe it is worth looking for new venues?

    1. This is actually the subject of a post I have in the wings. Far too many friends and faculty members of mine have been divorced. I can count the number of successful academic marriages on one hand.

      This is not sustainable for the field, and is not what I want for my future. I'm not convinced it's a forgone conclusion that marital problems result from an academic pursuit, but I unfortunately have no idea how to stop the problem before it starts....