Is academia only for the very devoted?

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Is academia only for the very devoted?

Postby Erica » Thu Feb 17, 2005 7:48 pm

Whoa! Don't feel guilty!

On the contrary you should be proud of your husband for placing a high priority on family time! The impact of a family on an academic career is the subject of a whole lot of debate right now because it IS really hard to balance the two, but it's not going to change if everybody in academia forgoes having children, which would be a ridiculous demand for any career. As it is, lots of people in academia have kids and are very successful.

Your husband's apparent lack of progress is not the result of spending time with you and your kids. I agree with previous posts that he might need to rethink how he approaches his time management and experiments, etc. before pulling up stakes and moving his living quarters into the lab.

Is academia only for the very devoted?

Postby J.J. » Thu Feb 17, 2005 9:38 pm

Gosh-I feel terrible for misreading your original post. Sorry!

I second Dave's suggestion to look in industry. Also, your husband might want to look into government research jobs, like the NIH or FDA. There are also other private research foundations that might be a good fit. They tend to have more reasonable hours because they have a different administrative structure.

Good luck-a supportive family is an asset, not a liability.
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Is academia only for the very devoted?

Postby Emil Chuck » Fri Feb 18, 2005 4:54 pm

While I in principle agree with what's been said, I am not sure based on the impression I get that he has really devoted the time to researching a career in industry. Like most postdocs, he probably wants the t-t position and probably thinks he can be the 1 person in 3 to get the slot.

What is not clear to him perhaps is that after year 5 of your postdoc, your marketability time drops precipitously. Not only does he become ineligible for career transition awards but there is statistical evidence that your chances of getting tenure are correlated to getting a t-t position within 5 years post-Ph.D. (NSF study I think). Beyond 5 years, it becomes remarkably harder.

But I am afraid to say he may have to plan on an additional 2 years of a postdoc/permanent staff postdoc before he becomes marketable to industry. I don't know a lot about what it takes, but he has to take the time to understand the culture, get the networking contacts, go through informational interviews, and then craft his skills and qualifications towards getting the industry job. Then he has to apply for them, and you never know how long your job search is going to be. If you want to go into industry, you have to be sure that's really what you want, and you need to make the effort to show that you are sincere (and not paying lip service because you just want a job). Successfully changing career direction won't happen overnight.
Emil Chuck
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Is academia only for the very devoted?

Postby Megan » Wed Feb 23, 2005 9:37 am

As an American post-doc in Europe, I have found that good science can be accomplished during humane working hours. When I arrived here, I found myself the only one working on weekend, and the only one here past 7pm. I've cut back to working from 7am to 6pm Monday through Friday and 10-5 on some Sundays (because I like the peace) and my productivity hasn't dropped. My grad-school problem of insomnia has also disappeared. I start an assistant professorship in the U.S. in August and am convinced (with a bit of nervousness) that organization and discipline will let me retain my evenings.
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