resigning from post-doc position

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resigning from post-doc position

Postby E Young » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:33 am

Hello Everyone,

My question is in two parts.

I joined a new post-doc position while pregnant but didn't disclose it during the time of interview because the PI wasn't sure about the funding situation but still wanted to meet me and give a talk.I planned on telling if I get a positive hearing which I did before joining the position. At first it seemed he really wanted me to start and assured me he could accommodate me without any problem. But I got to see his true colors after getting in there. He is very micromanaging, checking every hour what people are doing in the lab, passing sarcastic remarks if they are away from the bench, gives a huge lecture on taking a little break in the office, criticizing people on their work style, telling them all the time how things should be done. In summary, it has become a nighmare to be around him and he is in the lab most of the time.
I was trying to keep my composure together until now when I found out that he has said something bad about me (probably that I am not working hard enough)to my Ph.D. PI which really has upset me. This could really affect my relationship with my PhD advisor. He had been very supportive and always gave me good ref letter. They both know each although not for long enough.
I have been very productive since the beginning even working in 8-5 pm work schedule and not to mention the physical exertion that comes along with pregnancy. I tried to work like a normal person and not even used my pregnancy as an excuse to affect my work. He even mentioned to me that I am supposed to work 12 hrs a day and I am not working hard enough for the amount of money I am getting (I'm sure all the members here would know how rich is post-doc world?. I am not going to mention all other things that have been really hurtful if not abusive. All I can say that he is a big bully.

Now my questions are:
1. Should I tell my PhD PI about what's going on? If I should then how and upto what extent? I just want to make it clear to him that I worked to my full capacity but he was never happy...sthg like this.

2. Although we have worked out care plan for our little one, but I still don't want to work for him. It's been only few months since I started. Should I leave his lab now? I don't want to include this job time in my resume. He is not going to give me any good ref. letter I can tell for sure even if I stay in his for a year.
On the other hand, I would really like to take some time off (2-3 months) and recharge myself for another job position (definitley not post-doc). I am so done with bench work and research.

I would really appreciate your input and much valued suggestions.

Thanks in advance!

E Young
E Young
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Re: resigning from post-doc position

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:34 am

There are only two times when you can leave a job and not have it affect you adversely. For one, you are there for 2-3 years and you move on. No problem with that. In the case of a postdoc, you leave after your contracted term ends.

But, "sooner is better" on problem employment. If you have these difficulties now, they are only going to get worse. They aren't going to ease up. This person has shown his stripes. NO, a 12 hour day is not normal. Many people will work that (myself included) but it isn't necessary to be successful. And no boss should ever demand it. There are many reasons you may want to leave.

I'd get out of there and go immediately to work in another lab -- I wouldn't take months of extra time off on top of this departure which will already show as a hole in your CV employment timeline.

"Failure is a bruise -- not a tattoo." -- Jon Sinclair
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Re: resigning from post-doc position

Postby K.S.M. » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:45 am

As postdoc and a mother (in Europe though) I could not work in a lab were I had to be present 12 hours a day every day. I need flexible working hours to be able to spend time with my children.

With a boss like yours I would definitely start looking out for a new job.
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Re: resigning from post-doc position

Postby Pat Mawheny » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:16 pm

You should jump ship as soon as possible. Not to be an alarmist but exposure to highly stressful environments while pregnant has been linked to adverse outcomes for newborns that can last a lifetime. No job is worth compromising your or your baby's health. Your previous adviser knows you better than this clown and if he/she is a reasonable person they will not let the opinion of one sociopath contaminate their understanding of who you are.
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Re: resigning from post-doc position

Postby PG » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:36 pm

In many cases the stress levels go down as soon as the decision to leave have been made. I would recomend making the decision to leave the lab but I would highly recomend trying to go from one position directly to the next. If you take a couple of months off the risk is significant that those couple fo months turn into 6 months and then you will start to have a problem with the fact that you first left a position already after a short time and then have a 6 month gap in your CV.
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Re: resigning from post-doc position

Postby P.C. » Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:46 am

What is the name of this so and so and where does he live?

You might start making some quiet calls to administration, EAP, or the employee assistance program, if any. The EAP should be able to start you thinking about push back. He cannot treat pregnant women the way you are describing, and they might help you to find some people to talk to about short term means to deal with the stress, and long term transitions away from this situation. Expecting 12 hours a day for regular post docs (and he probably is thinking 7 days a week), is excessive and probably unproductive. I have worked with or close too such monomaniac, egotists. The structure of academia is pretty tolerant
(as long as they are bringing in the big buck grants).
I think this situation is one that illustrates the need to transition most post-doc funding to training grants and with a lot more oversite on the outcome of the so-called training experience. You are not his cheap labor!
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
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Re: resigning from post-doc position

Postby S.J.D. » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:04 am

My guess is that this is an early career faculty that is under a lot of pressure to produce results and was looking for an extremely productive ambitious postdoc that could really strengthen their tenure package.

It sounds like a difference in expectations. You should just leave as soon as possible. You should meet with him and say that you feel that you have differences in expectations and priorities and that you have decided to leave on X date. You can think about a respectful way to say that you would appreciate it if he does not discuss your situation with others and that you will respond in kind by not expressing your disappointment with the position with others. It will be better for you and better for him if you both just cut your loses.
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Re: resigning from post-doc position

Postby E Young » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:28 pm

Thanks to all who took time to share their point of view.
I have decided to leave the position. I have started looking around for other opportunities. P.G. is right, I feel much better now.
It's a big relief knowing that other people also agree on that 12 hrs work schedule is not normal for a family person.
I hope my previous PI's opinion about me remains the same based on my productivity in his lab not in current PI's lab.
As P.C. suggested, I thought of reporting him first, but now since I am going to leave the lab, perhaps it's better to leave the matter here now. If I would have to stay, I would definitely think about talking to someone. Thanks for the advice though!
S.J.D., your guess is right. He is entry level faculty and is under lot of stress to get his tenure which ultimately comes on the grad students or postdocs. I like you idea on leaving the position in an agreeable manner although he doesn't deserve it.
Regardless of what I have been through, this whole experience got me thinking how much women in science have to put up with. For women, starting new family plays big role in deciding to stay active in research or leave it for good and look for alternate careers. This has been true in my case. I know many women have been fortunate to figure out ways to get around it. But I guess everyone has different situation and priorities.

thanks again.
E Young
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Re: resigning from post-doc position

Postby P.C. » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:59 pm

Perhaps a misreading or mistatement in my post, but I was more suggesting you get some councilling to deal with the stress, and another opinion, face to face, on how to handle it. EAP, is supposed to be confidential... so there should be no reprocussions to you.
Maybe a face to face consult will help you process the whole stressful and unfair (in my view), situation. Might also help you from making any career faux pax or missteps.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
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Re: resigning from post-doc position

Postby E Young » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:50 pm

It was more a misreading, my bad.
Actually one of his students (also being bullied constantly)already talked to the chair. I guess that's what all going in my mind too if I should do the same. I missed the EAP option, but still I feel leaving is better for now.
Thanks for the advice.
E Young
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Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:47 am

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