Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My luckiest day

The short version: I walked into a seminar, ran into someone I met at a conference 2 years ago, talked to her for an hour about what I've been doing, and walked out with a job. Part time, temporary work, but I will have a MENTOR and TITLE and a PAYCHECK! I am overjoyed!

The long version:

Two years ago, I attended a small conference, mostly because of its location and the opportunity to see friends and family. I went on a field trip and spent a few hours in a van with a woman who was working on a similar type of database project and has been supporting herself on soft money (i.e. grants) since she finished her PhD. She said it have her the flexibility to work part-time when her kids were young and I appreciated hearing about her research and experience. Even better, she was at an institution near Jon's hometown, so I made a special note to contact her in the future.

I emailed her in November, saying we were probably moving to Hometown and might she be able to meet with me to talk about my project and funding ideas. I never heard back, and hadn't yet tried to follow up with her further over email. I went to a few seminars at her institution, but didn't see her. Until this week.

She walked in right behind me, and recognized me but couldn't place me at first. I told her I'd recently finished, moved to Hometown to be near family, was looking for work, have a 9 month old child, and told her more about my database project and the applications I have pending. After seminar, she said, "I've been feeling like I need some help on some of my projects and it sounds like you might have just the right skill set. Let's talk more about your experience and availability."

I showed her what I've done. I told her many of my pending applications have start dates still months away even if I do get an offer.

She said not many PhDs have the particular background of mine that she needs.
She said she loves to help other moms in science because she knows how hard it is.
She said she also moved into her parents' basement without a job when she finished her PhD.
She said she can't hire full-time or long-term, but what about half-time for 3 months?
She said welcome to the lab.

I could hardly contain my tears of happiness and immense sense of relief after the meeting. I'll have a paycheck, desk space, affiliation, and another line on my CV. I'll be working with someone who does things I'm interested in, but she has more experience and can mentor me. I will still have time to work on my own projects & applications, and flexibility in terms of when I work. What a day!

Friday, February 7, 2014

I really needed a win

Over the last 15 months, I've applied for 21 different jobs, postdocs, fellowships, internships, or consultancies. I spent considerable time on each application, and was highly selective about what I applied for so I, for the most part, only applied for things I thought I had a good chance at. I had an interview in April, an interview in July, and it's been nothing but crickets and rejections for the last 6 months. To say that is discouraging hardly does it justice. All week I have been thinking to myself, I need a win. I need something positive in this job search, and I need it soon before I spiral downwards in a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure.

I got it. In the past day, I received the exciting news that I will be interviewed for two different positions! Furthermore, one of these is something I thought I had a snowball's chance in hell of getting. They are going to interview me! This application was due at the same time as another, in which I invested much more time. This application was mostly an afterthought, and I was very close to not applying at all. If it hadn't required letters from Herb and Sam that were already sent, I would not have bothered. Boy am I glad I did! I am practically in tears with relief.

Even if I don't get offer from these, the good news could not have come at a better time.