I accepted my current position approximately 11 years ago and I did not do my homework nor did I listen to friendly advice from colleagues. I was too excited to get out on my own, and while it was a difficult transition, I made the best of it.
The advice I ignored:
“You shouldn’t go to university X, it is too small and it is in a State with few opportunities for collaboration”. This turned out to be true. I have had a difficult time developing collaborations; I am geographically isolated and the research interests of my colleagues (of which there are only 29) are quite disparate from my own.
“Your start-up funds are too small to set up an adequate lab”. This turned out to be somewhat true and I did as Michael is preparing to do (i.e., purchased used equipment). I was very fortunate in this regard. I found excellent used equipment that is still functioning perfectly today.
“Your new colleagues wrote that. You should call the department chair and tell them that you decided not to take the offer after all”. After accepting my position, I received an e-mail from two colleagues in the department. The first wrote me to let me know that she had heard that I did cell culture and that under no circumstances would I be allowed to use her hood or incubator. She was not certain that I was properly trained and that my aseptic technique might not be adequate. The second colleague wrote me to tell me that he had heard that we would be sharing a research technician and that he was sorry that I would not be able to use the technician because the technician was too busy doing research for him. Perhaps I could get some help in a year or so. (BTW, both of these e-mails really concerned me and I still have them today.)
The start-up package:
I was promised a lab with a particular sq. footage. When I interviewed, the lab that I was promised was occupied, but I was told that it would not be when I arrived. Well, when I arrived, the lab was still occupied. After 6 months, I complained to the dean and the dean offered a solution; a lab ¼ the size of that promised to me. I took him up on his offer because I had all sorts of equipment, reagents and supplies stacked up in my office. Also, I needed to get to work in a lab to gather preliminary data for grants.
I was promised a ½ time technician. Well, my colleague made sure that did not materialize, but made me feel good about it. Luckily, I was able to fund a technician when my grant was funded. Unfortunately, it took three years to get it funded.
I could add a few other things but lets end there.
Anyway, I made the best of the situation and I realized that it was all my fault. I did not ask the right questions during my interview, I did not insist that things I was promised be formalized in writing, I did not listen to my post-doc mentor, and I was incredibly naïve. However, it has turned out to be the best learning experience of my life. Now I am ready to move to an environment with more resources. If I can be successful here, I am confident I can be successful anywhere.