career move ?

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career move ?

Postby Val » Wed Nov 17, 2004 8:33 am

Hi all,

I have got my own story, comments on which I would appreciate to receive. I work on a contract at a govt agency. Due to internal politics, we were told our project would not be re-newed (we have a year or so more to go). The head of the department (not my supervisor) recommended me in private conversation to apply for a permanent position which he would advertise in several months. I liked the idea of the dept head, but I was always taken aback by his tendency to turn any scientific discussion (which I initiated) into politics. It looks like the guy breathes politics. It always keeps me strained and on defence. However, the guy seems to talk sense sometimes, and he recognises my competency of a specialist.

Other departments (in different fields of S&E) advertise permament positions from time to time. Some of the positions are for the staff promotions, and some are genuine. I now consider applying for them; however, I do not know anything about their projects and if they will make good bosses. I do not know yet long-term people to ask about the reputation of the bosses in question. I suppose it is true that "you will know about the position only when you start working there".

My current supervisor is good at getting funding, but he does not work with his staff. I am left to my own devices. And I am trying for couple of months to meet him up and ask him to set the priority for the developments which I am doing. I feel utterly frustrated by now. The reason for not leaving the project now is that my previous history is full with working in different areas of S&E for a year and so; I have not gotten yet the chance to stay on one project and develop my skills in depth on one thing; and this is the stuff which employers hire for. I suppose the realisation of own competency would make me feel more secure -- that's what I am desperately lacking at the moment.

Anyone can suggest ideas -- should I stay, should I go -- or, most probably, I should procrastinate in the current situation until it lives itself out ??

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career move ?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Nov 17, 2004 11:06 am


There are so many bad bosses out there in the world. It is an advantage, seriously, to have a bad boss that you know about, and how to deal with him, etc. He uses his ability in the "politics" area to get money for projects -- this is an advantage to all who work there. While it is frustrating to work for a person who is a "hands off" leader, at least you have some control of your destiny and this is a good thing at times. Sure, everyone needs a bit more direction than this guy is going to provide. My concern is that you really need to know more about the other bosses in some of those positions you might apply for, since this is a concern for you. Can you do a lot of digging in advance of getting the process started?

Obviously, it is a very personal decision, but if I were in your shoes, I would likely stay in the position and apply for the post your supervisor's boss is going to post . . . When he told you in confidence that he was going to do this, it was a "pat on the back" and he is probably thinking that you would be good in that role.

Sometimes it is better to have a bad boss you know, than a bad boss with new circumstances. Your job stability is VERY important to your future. Getting 2-3 more years would help you down the road in getting out, and getting an even better job.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
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career move ?

Postby A. Sam » Wed Nov 17, 2004 1:55 pm

Go with the job that's being handed to you by the dept head. And get comfortable with politics, the whole world has operated on them since the beginning of time. David Baltimore gave a great speech upon taking the helm at Caltech, it's out there on the internet somewhere. In it he makes a point out of the moment he realized that what's logical and reasonable isn't agreed upon by everyone. Politics is the way anything ever gets done.
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