about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

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about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby M.T.R. » Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:25 am


First, I think I need to give you some background.
I have started my phd in 2009 and I have published 7 journal papers during the phd study.
So, I started looking for a faculty job last fall but there was no luck until this January when my advisor offered me a postdoc position. He said, he was planning to make me defend my dissertation in June but he would make me defend it in February if I accepted the postdoc position he suggested. So, I took it and defended my dissertation in February.
And I just started working as a postdoc from this month but surprisingly I got a job offer (tenure track faculty position in a teaching school) a few days ago.
I really like this job and really want to take it.
But I am pretty sure that he was not expecting my getting a new job this soon. Is there anyone who has been in similar situations?
How should I talk to him about my new job. By the way the new job starts on August 1st.
Any advice or words would be appreciated.

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Re: about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:28 pm

Congratulations on the job offer. As you know, too many respondents on this forum would love to be in your position.

The key thing to remember is that any decisions you make need to be based on what is best for your career. Your advisor's career is already doing well - he doesn't need you to continue to work in his lab to be successful. One could argue, in fact, that your ability to obtain this position represents a greater contribution to his success than anything you would accomplish by sticking around "just to make him happy."

It's also not like you're going to be leaving him hanging out high and dry. You've got a good three months available to help him get started on his new project - and to help train your replacement (assuming he finds someone to take your place). In fact, I would emphasize this point when you do discuss the matter with him.
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Re: about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby RSD » Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:25 pm

Congratulations on landing a job you are excited about.

Situations like this are best handled directly and professionally. Once you have signed your job offer I would recommend sitting down with your advisor and having an open conversation about what you intend to accomplish in the next few months before leaving, and how you might help transition the project to someone else.

I was in a similar situation in my postdoc, and left after 18 months to take an industry position. Like you, I had some anxiety about telling my boss. Postdoc positions are temporary, and good postdocs leave for permanent jobs all the time. Unless your advisor is a jerk or a crybaby, he should appreciate your direct approach and will probably understand completely. Good luck.
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Re: about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby D. Martin » Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:13 pm

If you got a job offer, it means you applied for the job and interviewed there (plus the fact your adviser wrote a letter for you), so he was expecting this ma happen. Thus, if you want it, just take the job. He will not get mad, I was in a similar situation with one of my students and I was fine with it, he should be too. Especially b/c he was your PhD adviser too.

However, keep in mind that if you take a teaching position, it will be very hard to move to a research position later on. So if your end goal is teaching, go for it. If you want to do research on top of the teaching, then stay where you are (although, IMHO, doing a postdoc where you did your PhD is not the best career move unless you are working for one of the big guys at Harvard/MIT/CalTech)
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Re: about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby M.T.R. » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:48 am

Thank you all for your kind and precious comments and advice.
Please allow me to put more information about my advisor.

When I told him that I would start applying for jobs, he said he would write a recommendation letter. But whenever I checked, he always said, he was too busy and still preparing a letter. And when I accepted his postdoc offer, he stop writing a recommendation letter.
I used to tell him that my goal is teaching students rather than doing research but he doesn't like that idea and expressed his disrespect about teaching positions strongly.
And I am the only one who can properly conduct research and produce results in this lab. There is only one new student who is not ready to do research independently.
Eventually, I will take this new job and leave this lab but I just wanted to let you know the source of my anxiety.
Thank you so much for your encouragement and good words. I will approach this matter directly and professionally and let you know how it goes.
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Re: about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby Craig B. » Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:24 am

It sounds like your "adviser" is looking out for his interests and not yours. Even if you didn't have another offer in hand, I'd suggest that you reflect on whether continuing in this lab were a long-term solution.

You have an opportunity for a "permanent" position that that moves your career in the direction you want. Take it. As Rich said, use the remaining time in your current lab as productively as possible and help train the individual(s) who will continue your work.
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Re: about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby PG » Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:50 pm

Since you already have an offer there is not much your current PI can do about it. If you want a continued career in teching getting good references from your next position will be much more important than what your current PI may say in the future. Make a clean break and make the best of your remaining time in the lab but dont hesitate to take the offer.
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Re: about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby M.T.R. » Mon May 09, 2016 4:50 pm

Dear all,

I have finally talked to my advisor. Unfortunately, he was not happy at all. He had spent more than 4 hours to convince how terrible job I was about to take. At the same time, he made a counter offer with some interesting benefits and increased salary. It was not easy to sit down and listen to him for four hours. After four hours, I told him that I didn't change my mind and my answer was the same. Like you said, there was not much he could do about it. I feel much relieved now. Thank you all for being supportive and for really good advice.
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Re: about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby PG » Tue May 10, 2016 12:06 pm

Regarding the counter offer I think that you did the right choice. Personally I have always been looking at it as if the company I worked for thought that I was worth increased salary and benefits they should have made that offer before I told them that I was leaving. The only situation that I can see when a counter offer might be a good idea is if the company was already planning to offer the candidate a new type of position within the company but got the letter of resignation shortly before making that transition public. I have been on the comany side of one of these and it is annoying to see someone leave when you know that you actually had a better offer already planned for them.
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Re: about quitting postdoc way earlier than expected

Postby Dick Woodward » Tue May 10, 2016 1:20 pm

PG is absolutely right about the counteroffer - you did the correct thing. I suspect that for every person who was going to be offered a promotion, there are several where the counteroffer is just to keep you there until they find your replacement. I have often told people (in somewhat earthier terms) that when they make you a counteroffer, they are saying that you are someone unprincipled that can be bought; when you accept the counteroffer, you prove it.

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