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Not suited to research??

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:56 am
by E.M.T.
Thanks to everyone for the advice. My husband and I have decided to move back to the midwest as soon as we can. Neither of us have settled here (after 10 months) and we feel like we won't. Things are not getting any better. I would love to have a job where I don't walk in every morning and sit down at the desk beside my bench and feel like I want to cry, then go from one end of the day to the other without saying a word to anyone. The research doesn't excite me as I thought it would. I don't know whether its where I am or just research in general. Its not that I have bad days. Every day is like this. We don't fit in where we moved to (the details of which I am not getting into)and just want to go back to close to where we were to be near our network of family and friends.
So my question now becomes how do I do this in the best possible way without offending my advisor who has been very good to me and also asking for a reference. Keeping in mind that I need to take time off to have a baby and can't afford not to get paid. Also bearing in mind my current feelings towards research etc, what type of job should I look for.

Not suited to research??

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:51 am
by Larry 2

If no one talks to you all day long for months on end, I am amazed you are still sane. No wonder you don't like the work, even a dedicated introvert would be at their wits end. If you loved your research enough to complete your degree, please don't try to solve the isolation problem by aiming lower and lower until you hit something. Your self esteem will take a terrific beating. Take good care of yourself and go for a job that means something really important to you (not to someone else).

As Dave says, let us all know how you are doing.



Not suited to research??

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:45 am
by Kristy
Hi E.M.,

Reading your posts was like re-reading my own journal from the past few months. I just left a postdoc on the west coast to move back to the east coast, where I am from. I dreaded telling my postdoc advisor that I was leaving, but it went really well. He took the news in stride, was completely supportive, and pointed out that people come to decisions about their careers at different stages of life. I also offered to do whatever he thought was most useful to the lab before I left, shifting my efforts from my own self-directed projects to those that were more in line with his long-term research projects.

As for the next step in your career, what about teaching high school? Or working on the education/outreach end of a research institution?

As many of the other posters have said, transitions are never easy...neither is deciding that you need to make a change. But good for you for recognizing that you aren't happy and for taking steps to change that. Best of luck.

Not suited to research??

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 10:24 am
by Kelly
I think if you have decided to leave then the sooner the better, before you get deeply into a project for which your supervisor has invested a bunch of time and resources. That's what is upsetting to a supervisors, half completed projects. It is also better for you if you are as unhappy as you write that you are. Feeling like crying when you walk in is no way to live.

People understand when things don't work out. I've had friends indicate their dream was to live in NYC, CA, small town, basically places they had never experienced, thengo there for a post-doc and HATE it. A post-doc is a good test drive for a lot of things outside the science.

Not suited to research??

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:00 pm
by Kristin B
I think this is the most telling line: "I would love to have a job where I don't walk in every morning and sit down at the desk beside my bench and feel like I want to cry, then go from one end of the day to the other without saying a word to anyone. "
I have had an experience very similar to yours- good boss but little group interaction, days without speaking to anyone, cant focus on work, dont care so much. Its awful.

You seem to have found out a truth about most human beings: we are social creatures. You need to work with people in order to be excited about the work itself. Very few people can be sustained by the work alone (often these people happen to be nerdy scientists). Your old lab environment was very collegial and that probably made all the difference. My sense it that whatever you do next, whether it is research or not probably does not matter. What matters is who you work with and what goals you want to accomplish. Unfortunately, science is often a solitary pursuit. You might want to pursue industry jobs, which are more likely to be team-oriented and can involve mentoring new hires, etc.
Also don't be so quick to run back to the midwest. You just need a social network in your new place. What is it about the new place that makes you feel like you don't fit in?


PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:24 pm
by E.M.T.
I guess I got my questions answered today. Although I have been trying hard, today my advisor called me aside and told me that I am not getting anywhere fast. I have a month to get my stuff together.....or else!!!!! He told me I am struggling and that I am probably "too stressed" to be good at the bench!!!
As I have stated before I am miserable in this job and this could be part of the reason I am not doing well......simply no motivation.....but now I guess I have to find it from somewhere.
I can't lose this job. I am 6 months pregnant, my husband recently lost his job (for reasons we don't know) and unemployed. To say I am stressed is putting it mildly. I am not a US citizen, my husband is though and we have not quite yet got around to the green card thing (just as we were about to my husband lost his job!!!) so I still need sponsorhip after November!!!
I have got an adjunct teaching job at a local community college teaching 1 class to keep up my teaching experience and I am really looking forward to that.
I just don't know what to do.
Any advice would help!!!


PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:41 pm
by Kelly
I think the last thing you need right now is an adjunct teaching job. It sounds like you are on the verge of getting fired from the real job that pays most of your salary and gives you benefits. You need to focus on improving your performance in this job while looking for another real job since you hate this one.

Adjunct teaching and worrying about teaching experience right now is short-sighted. It will take a bunch of time for little pay and no benefits. One can only do this when things are going really well in their real job.

Dump adjunct teaching, force yourself to do at least a good job technically for your present boss (want motivation? consider being pregnant without benefits) and start the search for another job that will make you happier.


PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:53 pm
by E.M.T.
I really want to do the adjunct teaching. Teaching is the part of science I enjoy doing. Thats why I took the job in the first place. Its only 1 class.....3 hours a week. I started this whole thread a month ago because I was worried that I wasn't suited to lab work.....of which I am now convinced!!!
My goal is to get through with this job until when I am due and then hopefully next semester take on the maximum teaching load as an adjunct at the college I am going to teach at which will pay me the same if not slightly more than what I get now. At least I have my foot in the door. There are also 2 to 3 other community college districts in the area, that have offered me positions this semester but I only took one and one class because it was the closest. Yes, benefits are worrying but my husbands job search is promising and he should have a job in the next few weeks. If worst comes to worst and I lose my job I can maintain my health benefits through COBRA. When he gets benefits and after I have the baby I will go on his plan. Also where I work the benefits given to postdocs are paltry. The only one I care about losing is health benefits


PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 3:29 pm
by Kelly
"I really want to do the adjunct teaching."
Okay but that doesn't mean you get to do it right now. We have to put off things we really want to do all the time.

Maybe I misunderstand: an adjunct gig usually pays on a per/course basis, about 1500-2500K for the whole course with no benefits. And when I write benefits I mean specifically health benefits.

"If worst comes to worst and I lose my job I can maintain my health benefits through COBRA."

You won't be able to support yourself, and your spouse and cover COBRA unless you have an adjunct deal that is pretty different than the standard ones.

As for your husband's job, in your first post you indicated he had a great job, several months ago. Maybe he will get another great one and in 3 months maybe it will be gone too. I don't mean to be gloomy but right now, like it or not, you are responsible for you, hubby and the one on the way.

You need to be realistic about how things work for teaching adjunct at community colleges; this is very fluid. Enrollments are very unpredictable. There may not be 3 courses for you to teach next semester and even if there is

"the maximum teaching load as an adjunct at the college I am going to teach at which will pay me the same if not slightly more than what I get now."

I would double check those numbers. Community colleges are full of adjuncts that are teaching full loads at THREE different places to make ends meet.

Bottomline: triage; you and your family need the fulltime job that you have right now. Your plan has too many "ifs" in it:
if husband gets job
if you can teach full time next semester (by the way; who will take care of baby while you are working for an adjunct salary and husband may be in another soft job?).

I'm sorry to be tough on you but you need this job for now. Do everything you can to keep it and nothing to compromise it while you line up a full time non-adjunct teaching position with benefits.

Last question:
does your PI know you plan to teach a course at a CC?


PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 4:36 pm
by B.R.
I have to agree with Kelly - you really need the full-time job you have right now. Labor/delivery can get expensive pretty quick without insurance, especially if things go awry with the delivery. I had student health insurance when I had my first baby, and it didn't even come close to covering the cost of the delivery and follow-up complications, leaving us in serious debt that took at least a year to pull ourselves out from under. Luckily, we had some insurance coverage, otherwise we would have been in serious trouble.

So, of course, this is only my humble opinion, but it just sounds too risky to let this post-doc position slide right now with all of this uncertainty in your life.