Move to uncertainty

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Move to uncertainty

Postby Kat U. » Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:14 pm

I know similar questions have been asked several times, but mine is somewhat unique so thought of posting on the forum.

Currently, I work at a major US university as a staff scientist (8 years of post PhD in biology). I have been looking for a job (due to the toxic work environment) for past two years with moderate success. Out of desperation, I asked my spouse who works at the same university to look for jobs. They, immediately, got an offer that matched well with the qualifications and that would triple the current salary. Considering the salary the company offered and the kind of job, it was no brainer to accept the offer. The new job is going to be in a different state (literally on the other side of the county) and I would also need to move, as it is impossible to live in two different places with young kids. This is where the problem comes.

There are not many places where I can, potentially, find a job (this is not a tech hub and has one university and couple of other places to work in science). So my options are:
• Staff scientist position at the university (quite unlikely given that my expertise in a different field)
• Postdoc (this seems like going backward)
• Find a small company or startup (although not sure if they exist)
• Do a master’s degree in computer science (I have sucked into computers due to my current job and I quite like it - may be a good time to get a formal education.)

I want to see what others have done under similar situations and if there is other options that I haven’t thought about.
Kat U.
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Re: Move to uncertainty

Postby D.X. » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:31 am

Hi, you may want to Keep your mind very open here.

I live in an expat Environment - where usually there is what's called " Trailing Spouse". It could be the husband or the wife who is the Trailing Spouse.

In These cases, many of the trailing spouses have left their careers in their home Country, usually thier working expat spouse has had a great offer, i.e. finanicial and/or career upside etc. etc. and the trailing spouse takes the "sacrifice" to leave behind. Your case sounds similar, you would be somewhat of an "expat" and a "trailing spouse".

In These cases, some trailing spouses will try to look for Jobs in thier own field - yet in many others cases, they Switch field or take an entrepreneural route. We recently meet a trailing spouse who was an Engineer in the US, but she has since then opening a ceramics Studio.

In common the trailing spouses are very active with Networking - they are active on Linkedin, they join many "meetup" Groups, and because they have some time on their Hands they can get very active in the the community, be it social endeavors, Networking Meetings, and various interest Groups, both within thier speciality and out. They meet other trailing spouses and Network there.

Basically, the take home message is, you have an opportunity to explore. Be open minded. Don't narrow yourself the the options you described. Seems to me based on your post going back to work is not urgent. Maybe you can find something that really excites you. A new journey. Networ! . You can also have a view that is a temporary move, like the typical expat and you can treat it as that, a chapter to explore - but it can very well be, that you may like where you live and you may just want to settle - consider yourself an "Immigrant" then - just like many of us expats.

Start looking for opps now, you can set up alot of informational interviewing now, with the excuse that you are moving and looking to understand various ops.

So not want you wanted to hear, but maybe some Inspiration? I was a trailing spouse, but I stayed in my field and had the Advantage of moving to a Location where my industry (pharmaceutical) is an important economic sector in the Country, a collateral consequence for me moving here was a Major boost to my career and professional experiences which I never planned for or expected to get. So I saw an upside. Maybe you can find this as well. As for Kids - as I will soon learn, don't worry too much - experiencing change is a great character builder and they will adapt.


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Re: Move to uncertainty

Postby Dave Walker » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:16 am

I think DX has provided excellent and thorough advice (as always!). There isn't much to add -- but if it helps I can offer some examples of PhD-holding "trailing spouses" that have ended up elsewhere:

- Administrator for graduate PhD program
- Technical writer for scientific writing company
- Field Application Scientist for instrument company
- Working in Technology Transfer for local university
- Biology teacher at local community college
- Biology teacher at nearby private university

The major theme I have seen (and with DX's post) is that you should consider a job away from the bench.

I assume with your family you are somewhat limited with travel? For many positions with travel (sales, FAS, etc.) you do not need to live in a "hub" city. Alternatively, you could consider remote positions (like technical writing) that also don't require living in a specific location.

There are many types of these jobs available; success will require dedicated networking and informational interviewing.
"The single factor that differentiates Nobel laureates from other scientists is training with another Nobel laureate." -- Sol Snyder
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